It is reputed to have been the largest private dwelling built till date and four times the size of Buckingham Palace. At the time of construction it boasted the most modern amenities such as elevators and the interior is reminiscent of a large European country house. It remains the residence of the Royal Family, who continue to be held in high esteem by the residents of Baroda.
The Kingdom of Bharatpur was carved out by the legendary Jat warriors, Badan Singh and Suraj Mal. Under their able leadership the territory of Bharatpur expanded far beyond the original boundaries of the town of Bharatpur and the Jats became a power to be reckoned with in this region. Such was the might of the Jats that Bharatpur came to be known as the impregnable city.
The forces of Bharatpur were the only ones which fought successfully against the British. In the unsuccessful siege of the Lohagarh fort, the British forces led by Lord Lake suffered heavy casualties and Lord Lake himself was killed. At Deeg, the Bharatpur Maharaja's men successfully took on the might of combined Mughal and Maratha army of 80,000. Growing from strength to strength, the Jats even attacked and captured the Red Fort in Delhi, the ultimate seat of Power! Set amongst a sprawling 50 acres, the Laxmi Vilas Palace Heritage Hotel was built in 1857 for Raja Raghunath Singh, the younger brother of then ruler of Bharatpur, Maharaja Ram Singh son of Maharaja Jaswant Singh.
An eclectic and lively fusion of Rajput and Mughal architecture, the place was earlier called Raghunath Niwas, though the locals always preferred to call it Kakaji Ki Kothi.
For almost a hundred years, the Laxmi Vilas Palace has been a prime witness to, and a participant in almost every eventful happening that took in the princely state of Bharatpur - Royal weddings, affairs of the court and the Royal duck shoots. It has played host to such dignitaries as the Duke of Edinburgh, Shah of Iran, King of Nepal and Shah of Afghan. There was of course enough to entertain those who entered the portals of the Palace. Feasts and festivities lasted for days, and the Palace kitchen ensured that the only gourmet cuisine arrived at the dining table.
The same traditions of hospitality have been kept alive till the present day. In 1994, a decision was taken to convert the palace into a hotel. The Laxmi Vilas Palace has been operational ever since.
Though the Laxmi Vilas Palace is now a premier heritage hotel, it is first and foremost a Royal residence with the family of Raja Raghunath Singhji staying in the Palace . Even today the traditional pujas and ceremonies, especially of Dusshera and Diwali, take place in the ceremonial rooms.
While restoring and refurnishing the Laxmi Vilas Palace care was taken to preserve the " Royal" character and the spirit of the property. The furniture, furnishings, even the photographs and paintings on the walls reminded one of the gracious days of the Raj.