The Jai Vilas Palace is one of India’s most grandiose and eccentric nineteenth-century relics, although the lack of labelling and information make it an unsatisfactory experience.

The palace was built in 1875 during the reign of Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia. He dispatched his friend Colonel Michael Filose on a grand tour of Europe to seek inspiration; Filose returned with a vast shipment of furniture, fabric, paintings, tapestries and cut glass, together with the blueprints for a building that borrowed heavily from Buckingham Palace, Versailles, Greek ruins and Italian-Baroque stately homes. The result is a shamelessly over-the-top blend of Doric, Tuscan and Corinthian architecture.

The Scindias, who still occupy part of the palace, have opened two wings to the public. The first wing, a museum, includes countless Mughal paintings, Persian rugs, gold and silver ornaments and antique furniture that belonged to the estate of Louis XVI before the French Revolution.

A still more extravagant wing lies across the courtyard from the museum. The durbar hall was where the maharaja entertained important visitors. A sweeping Belgian glass staircase leads from the lobby upstairs to the gargantuan assembly hall, which has the world’s biggest chandeliers. At over three and a half tonnes apiece, they could not be installed until the strength of the roof had been tested with eight elephants. The rug lining the floor of the hall, woven by inmates of Gwalior jail, took twelve years to complete and, at over 40m in length, is the largest handmade carpet in Asia.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

India features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

In pictures: the little-visited treasures of South India

In pictures: the little-visited treasures of South India

After a week-long whistle-stop tour of central India's least-visited attractions, travel writer and photographer Lottie Gross shares her favourite photos. In…

07 Mar 2017 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
Indian trains: a traveller's survival guide

Indian trains: a traveller's survival guide

The Himalayan Queen, the Grand Trunk Express, the Deccan Odyssey… the very names of India’s trains are evocative of timeless style and old-school adventure…

09 Feb 2017 • Freya Godfrey insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
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