The capital of a princely state under the Raj, and a city with much charm and few visitors, Patiala dates back to the early eighteenth century. It was founded as the capital of a state that featured a unique power-sharing arrangement, in which the maharaja was always a Sikh and the army commander a Muslim. Buffeted by rival powers, be they Hindu, Muslim or Sikh, Patiala’s maharajas finally secured their state’s survival in 1808 by allying themselves with the British. Like India’s other princely states, Patiala was absorbed into the Republic in 1947, but the city remained capital of its own state (the Patiala and East Punjab States Union, aka PEPSU) until 1956. To this day, there’s still something special about Patiala, and even the local measure of whisky – the Patiala peg – is bigger than a standard peg that you get elsewhere. The old city is full of bazaars and temples, and still has its fort and several of its original gates, although the walls are long gone. The tourist board have designated a self-guided “heritage walk” around the city’s main sights, with signposts marking out the route, although they’re a bit patchy, and a map is more helpful.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

India features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

13 tips for backpacking India

13 tips for backpacking India

Whether you’re hurtling along in a rickshaw, eating fantastic curries, kicking back on the backwaters or hiking in the mountains, backpacking India will alwa…

15 Aug 2017 • Helen Abramson insert_drive_file Article
Video: a 2 minute guide to India

Video: a 2 minute guide to India

India has been captivating travellers for centuries – and it continues to enchant to this day. It's a country that has it all: rainforest, desert, pretty beac…

20 Jul 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
Living the past: the ancient professions of Old Delhi

Living the past: the ancient professions of Old Delhi

Modernity is seeping into Old Delhi, a walled district that has long harboured the Indian capital’s traditional ways of life. But what does this mean for long…

13 Jun 2017 • Jack Palfrey local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month