Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif’s recent big fat Indian wedding to actor Vicky Kaushal was lauded for its dreamy locale and stunning decor.
The couple's hush-hush nuptials took place at the lake-facing Six Senses Fort Barwara, a 14th-century property located three hours from Jaipur, the capital city of the desert state of Rajasthan.
Ahead of the December 9 wedding, local media released minute-by-minute commentary and coverage of the event. Only 120 guests – including the who’s who of Bollywood – made the guest list.
The invitees were accommodated in suites costing about $1,000 a night. The couple, meanwhile, stayed in the $10,000-per-night signature suite, which is outfitted with a private swimming pool, Jacuzzi and landscaped gardens. Once owned by a Rajasthani royal family, the property consists of two palaces, on-site temples, three restaurants, a signature spa and water bodies.
From a lavish banquet of Punjabi and English cuisine rustled up by 100 cooks flown in especially for the wedding, to a customised glass gazebo within which the duo shared their vows, a horse chariot for the groom and a palanquin for the bride, everything was regal.
Six Senses Fort Barwara isn’t the only venue that has hosted large-scale celebrity marriages. Many other well-known Indian hotels and resorts have also played host to the nuptials of Bollywood and Hollywood stars.
Here are some of the best:
Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Actor Priyanka Chopra and singer Nick Jonas tied the knot in a glittering ceremony at Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. More than 1,500 guests gathered from around the world, many arriving in private jets, for three days of celebration.
Home of the Jodhpur royal family, and currently the world’s sixth-largest private residence, the palace was built between 1928 and 1943 from the same palm court marble used in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
Perched on Chittar Hill, the highest point in Jodhpur, the property offers sweeping views of the Blue City, undulating sand dunes and the historic Mehrangarh Fort, while the Balsamand and Kalyana lakes are nestled nearby.
A heritage walk around the palace offers an intimate insight into this fascinating royal residence, once home to Maharani Badan Kanwar of Jodhpur. The last of the great palaces of India, the hotel is set amid 10.5 hectares of lush gardens and is home to a family museum, a subterranean Zodiac Pool and 70 Art Deco-inspired rooms and suites.
Liz Hurley and her ex-husband, Indian businessman Arun Nayar, also stayed here before their 2007 wedding, which took place at the nearby Meherangarh Fort.
The Baradari Palace, Patiala, Punjab
The magnificent 19th-century The Baradari Palace, located amid Punjab's culturally rich Patiala city, is an architectural marvel converted into a heritage hotel by Neemrana Hotels.
Punctuated by sprawling courtyards, the 30-hectare property has hosted many high-profile weddings, including those of royalty and Bollywood stars. Most recently it was where Simran Kaur Mundi, former Miss India for Miss Universe, tied the knot with her Bollywood filmmaker husband Gurickk Maan. It has also featured in blockbuster Bollywood films such as Bodyguard, Yamla Pagla Deewana, Phillauri and Raazi.
The palace was commissioned by the king of Patiala, Maharaja Rajinder Singh, in 1876 for his pregnant queen, one of the reasons it is peppered with oxygen-giving trees. He championed women’s rights, implemented reforms and defied all taboos by marrying an Irishwoman. He was also known for the ease with which he integrated various cultures. Reflecting the Maharaja’s love for syncretism, the property refuses to conform to a single architectural style, and amalgamates Hindustani, Mughal and colonial design elements.
The heart of the palace is its 12-door pavilion – the baradari that gives it its name. With all its suites named after former maharajas of Patiala, and fitted with portraits of kings and queens, the hotel transports its guests to a bygone era.
Exquisite period furniture, grand four-poster beds, and other vestiges of the past, including etchings of the maharaja’s coat of arms on glass doors, build on the regal ambience. At night, the 12 cusped arches of the Baradari are illuminated, reinforcing the garden palace’s noble past.
Taj Falaknuma Palace, Telengana
The venue of Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s sister Arpita Khan and actor Aayush Sharma’s wedding in 2014, Taj Falaknuma Palace in the southern city of Hyderabad was the talk of the town for weeks. The nuptials were attended by the who’s who of Indian and international cinema, as well as business honchos and politicians.
Salman booked the entire palace for two days of the $2 million wedding, which featured horses, chariots, lavish banquets and processions. Located five kilometres from the historic 16th-century monument of Charminar, Falaknuma Palace (Falakunma means mirror in the sky) has more than 60 lavish rooms and a dining table that can seat 100 people.
The marble palace, which once hosted guests such as Tsar Nicholas II and King George V, has signature rooms that cost more than $20,000 per night. The palace was once the residence of the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, after he bought it from the prime minister of Hyderabad state at the time, Nawab Viqar ul-Umara.
Deo Bagh, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
A heritage hotel in Gwalior, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Deo Bagh is peppered with 17th and 18th-century Maratha temples, two cenotaphs and one pavilion with 36 arched gateways. Its landscaped gardens and lawns have hosted many a celebrity and royal wedding, with drummers, dancers and classical music concerts entertaining VIP guests. Delectable Indian and continental delicacies are rustled up by the property’s 50-odd chefs.
The hotel’s lavishly decorated 15 suites spread across the palace’s five wings, fronted by a Nau Bagh, or nine-part garden. During medieval times, important state meetings of Punjab’s kings were held here. The garden complex houses exquisite temples, a hathikhana (elephant shelter) and stables.
Legend has it that in 1500 AD, the Mughals camped on Deo Bagh Palace’s lawns, which feature a chhattis dari, or 36-pillared pavilion. The queen and her entourage congregated in the palace’s underground chamber during summer to escape the city’s catatonic heat, as it had a moat of water on all four sides. In the evening, the ladies would stroll through the lush, landscaped lawns where peacocks still preen in all their plumed glory.
Neemrana Fort Palace, Rajasthan
It is said that Neemrana Fort Palace was the first property in Rajasthan to host a secret royal wedding in 1992, involving a chartered plane, an artificially created chapel lit up with a 1,000 candles, white and orange Oriental lilies hung from baskets in the central court followed by a black-tie dinner. But hotel staff are far too discreet to share any names.
Since its inception in the 1980s, the fort palace has hosted many celeb weddings, including of wealthy non-resident Indians from the UAE. History whispers from every corner of the palace as it was the centre of power of the descendants of Prithviraj Chauhan III, king of the warrior Rajput Chauhan dynasty. Left to ruin for much of the 20th century, it was meticulously restored in the 1990s to its original medieval glory, making it one of the most unique hotels in the world.
Built in 1464 AD, the property is located on a hill commanding panoramic views of the Indian countryside. The 55-roomed hotel is constructed over 2.5 hectares of land with 12 separate levels and palatial wings fronted by well-manicured gardens brimming with traditional flora and fauna. Rooms take inspiration from Indian antiquity or British colonial heritage. Bulging with antiques, they come minus modern gizmos such as TVs or phones, allowing guests an immersive experience into a rich past.