Welcome to Patiala
Punjab’s best-kept secret, Patiala was once the capital of an independent Sikh state, ruled by an extravagant family of maharajas. As the Mughal empire declined, the rulers of Patiala curried favour with the British and filled their city with lavish palaces and follies. After Independence and the subsequent abolition of privy purses, royal fortunes began to decline, and the once regal city slowly became a shadow of its former self. Today, the grand monuments are all crumbling, but the old city, ringed by 10 historic gates, is still swooningly atmospheric. In mid-January, the skies above Patiala burst into life for the Basant kite festival.
First thing to do when you get here is grab a free map of the town from the tourist office. Even then, be prepared to get lost in the old-city bazaars.