Thirty years after he faced debacle, the maharaja is the undisputed crown jewel of Jodhpur, the Indian king with the most economic success stories to tell. He put Jodhpur on the travel map and hopes to do the same with Nagaur, which will soon open to tourists. His five-star resort properties infuse the once drought- and famine-ravaged region with jobs and cash. His multiple charitable trusts conserve ancient history. The Maharaja of Jodhpur may no longer live so like a king, but to his people, his actions are princely.

“My father has been a pioneer,” says his son, The Yuvraj Shivraj Singh, or the Young Prince, as he is affectionately known around the palace. “As head of this erstwhile kingdom and as the head of the challenges in business.”

The maharaja recently turned over many aspects of the palace hotel business to the son who will inherit. Wide-eyed and dashing, the young prince has inherited not just his father’s good looks and business sense, but his optimism and passion. “Some kings turned a blind eye to their people because of their birthright,” says The Yuvraj from behind his desk in the palace offices, where he spends most of the day. “But my father has always been very clear that we are where we are because of the people of Jodhpur. Governments come and go, but people will always be there.” And, it appears, so will their maharaja.

Providence created the maharajas to offer mankind a spectacle.
—Rudyard Kipling
In changing these family assets into businesses, the maharaja didn’t just manage his taxes well. He kept the art and artifacts, the antiques and carpets and buildings. It was a feat many other indian royals didn’t achieve.