The Dholpur City Palace, Dholpur, Rajasthan and the legal knot

There are countless old palatial  palaces in  Delhi  and adjacent areas built by  ex princely rulers of India. Though many were built for special purposes  for their stay or for the stay of their representatives, some were built  in connection with the visit  of  royal members of the British family. The Dholpur Palace in Dholpur was one among them. 

Raj Niwas Palace/Dholpur palace, Rajasthan

Dholpur City Palace, Dholpur.

Located on a spread of  13 acres of land, the  Dholpur Palace was built by the royal members of Jaipur  to welcome Albert Edward (later King Edward VII) during his visit to India in 1876.   The palace, made of  Dholpur red stones is in Dholpur town in the eastern part of Rajasthan flanked by Chambal ravines of Madhya Pradesh on it South east end and covered by Agra on its North west outskirts. close to the  state  border of Uttar Pradesh. This place and the areas around it were  known for  natural beauty, unexplored wooded terrain  and ample gaming opportunities. No doubt, in the past this area attracted  the royal princes to go on hunting trips in the interior portion of the jungles.  This place was equally known for illegal sandstone quarries and ravines that were haven  for bandits/dacoits. The palace  is  set  in the midst of  stately landscaped garden and is close to Dholpur railway station - just one kilometer. This structure, unlike many palaces, stands apart because of its unique architecture and dressed red sandstones widely used  in the building. During the tumultuous freedom struggle, this palace was under the care of the English and obviously, it was a   silent spectator to  so many famous and historical personalities both British and Indian. who had set their foot in this majestic edifice.  Truly  this palace is the legacy of the Jaipur royal family whose members lived here for several generations.

 Raj Niwas Palace/Dholpur palace, Rajasthan

Not many of us aware that  that Delhi's Union Public Service  Commission ( famously known as UPSC) building (Dholpur House) and Dholpur's Rajniwas Palace  were owned by ex ruler Hemant Singh, ex-husband of  former   Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje and father of MP Dushyant Singh.

Often referred to as  Raj Niwas Palace, it is now a heritage hotel and is being run by Niyant Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd, owned by Dushyant Singh, son of Vasundhara. The palace hotel is yielding substantial income to the royal family.     

Raj Nivas palace / Dholpur palace

.Raj Nivas palace / Dholpur palace

For a longtime the Jaipur royal members were embroiled in legal battle  that lasted almost 30 long years over the properties owned by the family. In 2015 Jairam Ramesh, a prominent Congress Party  leader  asserted that ''the Dholpur City Palace is a property of the state that has been usurped illegally,"  Ramesh thundered on prime-time television. He  further accused that CM  Raje and her son Dushyant  got the property in collusion with former Indian Premier League (IPL) owner  Lalit Kumar Modi and converted it into a luxury heritage hotel for illegal profit. However, Jairam Ramesh could not prove his case against the Jaipur royal family  as his record  was incomplete. 

Ex- ruler Hemant's grandmother in the 1950s  to avoid estate duty imposed on the heir(s) after the death of her husband Udaibhan   finally decided to  retain the Dholpur City Palace and offered to swap the property with Kesarbagh Palace, Delhi. This kind of swapping was common  among the ex princely families to avoid exorbitant estate duty taxes.   

The last king of Dholpur state  was king  Udaybhan who died  at the age of 61. His reign lasted for 43  long  years.  Hemant Singh,  son of Maharaj Pratap Singh was adopted by  Udaybhan' wife. Later  Hemant Singh   became the titular Maharajah of Dholpur in 1954.  It was in 1971 Mrs Indira Gandhi, then PM of India, through the amendment to the Indian constitution,  abolished  the royal titles and privy purses (doles) to the princes  given by the Indian government.

The Indian  government  readily accepted the swapping offered by the Jaipur royal family and the possession took  place in 1958. Dholpur City palace was repossessed by the royal family.  In 1962  the Rashtriya Military School opened in what was then known as  Kesarbagh Palace. ''As per male primogeniture law of succession  the Dholpur royals retained the City Palace as absolute owners with full authority to will it''. For unknown reasons, it is not recorded in revenue records. The govt.  records were clear regarding Dholpur City palace's title documents  and Jairam Ramesh's  argument was not supported by proper documentation. So, the court disposed of  the case in favor of the royal family. 

If you go back on the history of Dholpur, since the time of Mogul period this place has been a center of dispute and  conflicts  Shahjahan and Nur Jahan  vied with each other  to control this place. Emperor  Jahangir  quite unhappy over the conflict  in which several people died. finally  had sent  Shah Jahan to a distant palace.


The  litigation over the properties  between Raje's estranged husband Hemant Singh and son Dushyant Singh  went on for a pretty long time - the media called it ''Dholpur battle.'' They spent one third of their precious life in the court case, of course, they had the money to get the litigation going.  Finally in 2007 it dawned  on the father-son duo  that their legal battle was  useless and it was  something like Sisyphus trying to move a huge  boulder up hill.   At the fag end in the same year, they made a compromise.  Accordingly, Dushyant got the ownership of the palace (Dholpur city palace) in question, a mansion in Shimla, a dozen vintage cars and jewels from Dholpur's treasure, whereas his father got the Delhi properties including a mansion at the Panchsheel Marg.

Dholpur city palace, now a  renovated  heritage hotel with old splendor and style showcases the past legacy  and the opulence of  Rajput royal life.