Patiala, Punjab, India

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. Family fortunes have declined and the grand monuments are crumbling, but the old city, ringed by 10 historic gates, is swooningly atmospheric. In January/February, the skies above Patiala burst into life for the Basant kite festival.

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