The Brijraj Bhawan Palace, on the banks of river Chambal, Kota in Rajasthan was built in 1830 A.D by the East India Company (financed by Kota state) as a British residence and was then called the Residency Bungalow. It’s a 178 years old palace and was converted into a heritage hotel in the 1980s. Brijraj Bhawan is now a heritage hotel. It was once the residence of Maharaja Brijraj Singh of Kota. Many important and renowned dignitaries like Lord Curzon, Queen Mary of England, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and many other had visited this palace during the 1970s.
However, this posh and luxurious hotel is said to have something spooky and eerie about it. In spite of being a famous hotel this place has its story of being haunted. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of major Burton who was killed by Indian Sepoys during the revolt of 1857. There are a number of places in Rajasthan which are rumored to be haunted and Brijraj Bhawan is one among them.
As per history this palace was the home of Major Charles Burton, 40th Bengal native infantry posted to Kota. He and his family lived in there for thirteen years. However, due to the outbreak of the mutiny in 1857, Burton was sent to Neemuch cantonment for the protection of Neemuch, a town in Madhya Pradesh. Burton moved along with his family. On 13th December 1857 the Burtons returned at Kota, on being requested by Kota’s Maharaja. But this happiness did not last long. Two days later, a large troop of soldiers, who had mutinied, surrounded the palace and looted it. Burton and his two sons were hiding in an upper room with few weapons, but after five hours of firing they surrendered and were killed in the central hall of the building. It’s said that just before their death they bent on their knees and prayed. In 1858, the Britishers took back Kota and Major Burton’s and his sons’ bodies were interred again in Kota cemetery with full honors and as epitaphs “this tablet is erected by a heartbroken wife and mother vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord, I will repay” was written on their tombs,
Post independence, the mansion became the private property of the Maharaja of Kota. The Government of India abolished the privy purses and privileges of the Maharaja and named the building as Brijraj Bhawan.
It is said that the guests at the hotel often get a discomforting and oppressive feeling. The staffs have complained of hearing an English voice. The watchmen often complain of hearing “don’t sleep; no smoking”; they even said some guards are slapped while sleeping on duty and given warnings in pidgin language. Even the former Maharani of Kota has told a British journalist in 1980 that she used to see Major Burton frequently because the room in which he was killed was being used as her drawing room. Ann Morrow quoted in her book “The Maharajas of India“; the Yuvrani stated “As far as we know, he (Major Burton) is an elderly man with white hair and a walking stick. I have seen him myself, because he was murdered in the first floor bedroom, which is now my study. The trouble with Major Burton is that he never goes off duty. He wanders around the palace and if he catches a servant asleep, gives him a quick slap on the cheek. He is the only restless soul around in summer, when it can be like furnace in Kota”. The ghost of Major Burton appears as an elderly man with a cane in his hand. His spirit is usually said to be harmless.
The royal family lives in one half of the building, while the other has been converted into a heritage hotel. It was opened in 1964, and is one of the earliest heritage hotels in India. The palace is in colonial style. It has spacious rooms and graceful royal furniture. All bedrooms are provided with air-conditioners and modern attached bathrooms, and are equipped with telephone with national and international access. Most rooms have a pleasing and soothing river view. It has well maintained lawn, terrace and gardens with wide variety of birds. It serves multiple cuisines like Chinese, Indian and continental. The food is made especially under the supervision of the royal family. Gaming facilities like croquet, badminton, tennis are also available along with their respective courts. Besides, other facilities like doctor on call, laundry, safe deposit, travel arrangements are also available. Different room types like standard, suite and extra beds are provided here. Other room amenities like A.C, bathroom toiletries, bath tub, hot/cold water, room service, and dining hall are provided too. Food can be served on the terrace garden and also to the guest through room service. The royal family personally looks after the running of the hotel, thus giving it a homely touch. Being situated on the banks of Chambal River, the hotel has a marvelous view. In the olden days, renowned guests could hunt down crocodiles by shooting them from island below. The hotel is located 5km from the airport, 3km from the railway station, 1.5km from the center of town, and 1km from the bus stand.