Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor are Bollywood's power couple in every sense of the term. Apart from illustrious careers on the silver screen, the couple is known for their regal homes and expensive properties. The crown jewel (pun intended) among these is the Pataudi Palace, also known as Ibrahim Kothi. Located in the town of Gurgaon in Haryana, it was the royal residence of the Pataudi family, erstwhile rulers of the princely state of Pataudi. Saif Ali Khan is the grandson of Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi, the last ruling Nawab of the family.
The palace was commissioned by Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi after his wedding to the Nawab Begum of Bhopal, Sajida Sultan. The Nawab believed that Akbar Manzil, the official residence of the Nawabs, would not offer his wife the same luxurious living as her paternal home, the Noor-us-Sabah Palace. Therefore, in an endeavour to give the begum a home that was equally palatial and luxurious, the Nawab decided to build this mansion. The palace was designed in 1939 by British architect Robert Tor Russell in collaboration with Karl Moltz von Heinz from Austria. The colonial-era mansion showcases the very best of the era's architectural influences and designs.
Following Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi's demise, both his title and the palace were inherited by Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who went on to be one of India's legendary cricketers. The sprawling Ibrahim Kothi, built over an area of 10 acres, is now owned by his son, the 10th Nawab of Pataudi, Saif Ali Khan.
Later, Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi leased the property to the owners of the Neemrana group of hotels, Francis Wacziarg and Aman Nath. The Neemrana Group has about 18 properties in various states of India, each committed to bringing an authentic heritage experience to the guests. Between 2005 and 2014, the property came to be known as the Pataudi Palace Hotel and eventually passed from the possession of the family. In 2014, however, Saif Ali Khan took the opportunity to buy back his ancestral home and repossess an important part of his family's history. Since then, the INR 800 crore palace has been the family's favourite holiday home and retreat.
The Pataudi Palace is a regal residence steeped in history and memories of yesteryears. Apart from the impressive gardens, the palace has about 150 rooms, including seven-bed chambers. The sprawling dining halls and living rooms, several rooms designated for entertaining, and separate quarters for closets and dressing areas come together with a swimming pool, adjoining farmland, and a stable to create magic. The design of the palace incorporates elements that were favoured by colonial architects, such as rounded pillars, chequered marble floors, wide staircases with teak bannisters, and wood and glass doors and windows.
Saif collaborated with famous interior decorator and architect Darshini Shah to redo the interiors to give the home a plush yet modern feel. The palace retains most of its opulent carpets, rugs, large chandeliers, and vintage light fixtures, but some of the frequently used rooms have received a fresh lease of life with vibrant colours and modern furniture.
Some vintage artworks have been complemented with modern decor pieces, and the rooms have a distinct English feel. With the chic billiards rooms retaining mounted animal heads from a time when hunting was the royal sport of choice, the history of the home is a living presence. The one distinct feature of the Pataudi Palace is the immortalisation of memorable moments through pictures. From vintage black and white pictures to mundane modern moments - the family's love of capturing and chronicling its journey is evident in the lavish use of photographs on display. The large bedrooms effortlessly bring together poster beds with modern luxuries.
The balconies, verandahs, palace grounds and gardens are some of the favourite places for the Pataudi family to take pictures and spend their holidays. The expansive dining area with its silver candle stands is just what you would expect of a royal palace. Solid wood furniture and long corridors are just as appealing now as they must have been in years bygone. The Pataudi Palace has been the setting for several movies over the past few years.
Apart from the legendary Pataudi Palace, Saif and Kareena own one of the most impressive spaces in Mumbai. This Bandra home boasts supreme luxury and aesthetics that is just as fascinating but certainly more modern and chic than the couple's palace abode. Apart from the fabulous views of the Arabian Sea and the large outdoor swimming pool, the highlight of the Bandra home is its library, which remains Saif's favourite place. The couple also owns a chateau in Switzerland.
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