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(CNN) — Set in the rugged hills of Rajasthan, the Samode Palace is an architectural gem that dates back nearly five centuries.
An hour's drive from state capital Jaipur, the structure has been through several incarnations over its long history. It began as a fort in the 16th century, built to protect local rulers; during the 19th century it was transformed into an opulent palace; finally, in 1987, it was remodeled into a luxury hotel.
For guests, "it's a chance to go back into history ... and experience what royal families experienced," says Yadavendra Singh, a descendant of the rulers who built the fort, and now co-owner of the hotel.
Having spent weekends and vacations there as children, Singh and his brother, Raghavendra, inherited the palace in the 1980s and decided to convert it into a hotel for 80-plus guests.
They added two restaurants and a rooftop infinity pool while meticulously preserving the building's heritage features, including colorful frescoes and the spectacular, glass-tiled Shish Mahal -- a "hall of mirrors" Singh's forebears used as a space for entertaining.
Singh says the biggest challenge was to "very aesthetically and very sensitively try and restore the existing building and to add modern amenities without spoiling the charm of the old world."
It was worth the effort, he says.
"It has helped us to maintain our lineage, our culture," while guests "get a chance to experience a bygone era."
Watch the above video for a taste of royal Rajasthani life.
Samode Palace, Village Samode, Tehsil Chomu, Jaipur, Rajasthan 303806, India; +91 1423 240 014