By Monisha G Kumar Last Updated:
Indian royals play a significant role in the rich history and culture of the country. Some of them are deeply rooted in their tradition, and some have imbibed modern thoughts. One of them is Maharani Shivranjani Rajye, princess of the royal family of Jodhpur state. She manages the day-to-day activities of Umaid Bhawan Palace, one of the world’s largest private residences.
Shivranjani Rajye is the daughter of former Maharaja Gaj Singh II and his wife, Hemlata Rajye. Gaj Singh II is an Indian politician, who served as an Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago. Sivranjani also has a younger brother, Shivraj Singh of Jodhpur. Besides managing the activities of Umaid Bhawan Palace, Shivranjani also owns the Jodhpur Girls Polo team. Let us delve into many other lesser-known details of the Cambridge-educated princess.
Since Maharaja Gaj Singh II was the Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Shivranjani was raised in the West Indies. She returned to India at the age of six. After her schooling, Shivranjani went to England and studied Anthropology at Cambridge University. She also took a Filmmaking course in New York.
When Maharaja Gaj Singh II’s family ancestors faced some financial crunch, they let go of one of their palaces and a country estate for a meagre amount. Witnessing such a disastrous situation, it was the Maharaja who decided to partly convert their royal residence, a 347-room Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, into a hotel. The royal family has partnered with the Taj group, a luxury chain of hotels, keeping half the palace for paying guests and the other half remains for the family.
The Umaid Bhawan Palace was voted ‘world’s best’ by TripAdvisor in 2016, and the average cost of the stay is approximately Rs. 50,000. In the beginning, there were very few tourists; however, with time, tourism grew. The man behind turning Umaid Bhawan Palace into a hotel was Gaj Singh II, but the driving force behind the business is his daughter, Shivranjani Rajye.
Shivranjani’s engagement in managing the palace is quite interesting. Though her brother, Shivraj Singh, was set to inherit his father’s title however, in 2005, Shivraj met with a tragic accident while playing polo, and he slipped into a coma for two months. Shivranjani took the responsibility of the family business on her own shoulders. However, Shivraj is fine now and married with kids. Shivranjani is still single.
In a conversation with the Financial Post, the Maharani elaborated on how the palace promoted a conserving water zero waste policy. Talking about the same, she stated:
“The palace/hotel is a farm-to-table-to-waste enterprise, what guests eat is locally sourced, there are no plastics used, and conserving water — Jodhpur is a desert city — is a priority.”
When Shivranjani visited Toronto, she was asked by a publication about what it was like growing up in the opulent Umaid Bhawan Palace, and she stated:
“It was always full of people — traditionally, it has been — in another time, with the courts, or the durbar, as we call it. We were always interacting with visitors. I remember roller-skating in the palace.”
Shivranjani’s family owns other hotel properties and a red sandstone family fort, which they converted into a museum trust. Shivranjani runs the Heritage Resorts, and she also looks into the museum trust. She also pays attention to the art and culture at the museum, and her duty also involves serving the cultural heritage. The Maharani calls her duty as her ‘privilege meant to be shared with others’. Talking about the family business, she elaborated and said:
“We have heritage tourism and real estate — those are the family businesses. The rest of what we do is charitable.”
Priyanka Chopra tied the knot with the love of her life, Nick Jonas, on December 1, 2018, at Umaid Bhawan Palace. They had exchanged their wedding vows in both Christian and Hindu rituals. Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ wedding was a lavish affair. According to the reports of Times Network’s India Economic Conclave, Priyanka and Nick's grand wedding helped with the three-month revenue of Umaid Bhawan Palace. The managing director of Indian Hotels Company Ltd, Puneet Chhatwal, who operates the Umaid Bhawan Palace said that the grand wedding took care of the three months revenue of the palace.
Shivranjani Rajye is still single and has made it clear to her parents that she has no intentions of getting hooked. However, a Reddit post claimed that the Maharani had a fling with Bollywood actor, Salman Khan. As per the Redditor, it was in 1999 when the cast and crew of Sooraj Barjatya visited the palace during the shooting of the film Hum Saath Saath Hain.
It was stated by the Redditor that the Maharaja, Gaj Singh II, caught Salman and Shivranjani and kicked the entire cast of the film out of the palace, and Shivaranjani remained unmarried. These are mere rumours, and no evidence of such an episode is verified.
Maharani Shivranjani Rajye is a remarkable entrepreneur, who changed the destiny and fortune of her royal family while keeping their traditions intact.