New ITV period drama Beecham House showcases some gorgeous locations in India, from beautiful gardens to royal palaces and ancient forts.
Created by Bend It Like Beckham’s Gurinder Chadha and starring Tom Bateman, Lesley Nicol and Dakota Blue Richards, this six-part period drama will take us back to 1795 – a key moment in Indian history.
Though the drama is set in Delhi, the production team visited filming locations around India. Here are some of the places you’ll see on screen:
John Beecham’s friendly new neighbour Murad Beg (Adil Ray) lives in a huge mansion – and he certainly knows how to entertain, hosting a spectacular party one night with hundreds of high-profile guests.
These scenes were shot at Chomu Palace in Jaipur. The fortified palace of “Chomugadh” was first established by Thakur Karan Singhji Ji, who ruled over the district in the early 17th century: it was built with a tall wall to keep enemies out, and future rulers of Rajasthan continued to add to the building until it was finally completed in 1714, almost a century later.
Chomu Palace is now a “luxury heritage hotel” and a popular wedding venue, with 58 rooms.
The production team filmed at Samode Palace and the nearby Samode Bagh (aka Samode Garden) near Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Discussing filming locations, Bateman – who plays John Beecham – says: “Samode Bagh was my favourite one. There was this beautiful quad where we were staying, and it’s out the back, they had a swimming pool and stuff, and out the back was John Beecham’s garden. So we got to stay there and walk around those gardens and stuff… it was like a big old holiday.”
Described as a “garden paradise”, Samode Bagh is spread over 20 acres, with waterways, flowers, trees, horse stables, fountains, and a pavilion. Constructed by a ruler of Jaipur called Rawal Sheo Singhji, the garden is built in the geometric Mughal style and is enclosed by a tall stone wall.
The Samode Bagh has 44 hotel rooms for hire in a luxury “tented camp” assembled around a courtyard.
Samode Palace is located 4km away from Samode Bagh, 42km from the city of Jaipur. Built 475 years ago by the noblemen of the court of the royal family, the palace is a combination of Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. It is now operated as a hotel, with 43 rooms.
Built out of sandstone at the foot of a mountain-range, the palace features marble floors, ornamented pillars, mosaic walls, luxury carpets, wall paintings, artefacts, frescoes, patios. There is an old ruined fort just above the palace which gives a panoramic view of the valley.
Bessie Carter, who plays Violet, says: “We filmed up at the Simode Palace at the top of the hill, this beautiful big yellow building, and you walk in… me, Dakota [Blue Richards] and Lesley [Nichol] went – this is extraordinary – and the view looking down from the balcony!”
Jaipur’s Amber Fort
The Amber Fort (or Amer Fort) in Rajasthan was another key filming location, serving as headquarters for Frenchman General Castillion (Grégory Fitoussi).
“Oh my god,” Bateman says. “It doesn’t do it justice, but behind his office where we film a lot of those scenes, the cast go onto this cliff which drops away, and you can just see Jaipur below, and there’s no wall.
“There’s these huge stone archways out of nothing, and there’s this garden there, and it’s the most insanely – we’d just sit and have our lunch there, didn’t want to go back to work, because you’re just looking out over this most incredible view. And there’s this sort of wall, almost like a mini Wall of China, swooping down into the town.”
Located at the top of a hill, the fort is 11km from the city but is one of the most popular tourist attractions for visitors to Jaipur and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Amer Fort overlooks Maota Lake and is constructed of red sandstone and marble. Built over four distinct levels, each with a courtyard, it was the sumptuous residence of the Rajput Maharajas and their families.
The Taj Mahal
“The Taj Mahal was one hell of a way to finish,” says Bateman. He and co-star Dakota Blue Richards had their last day of filming at the “Crown of the Palaces” in the Indian city of Agra – one of the most recognisable buildings in the world.
The film crew set up a shoot behind the Taj Mahal in “a sort of private garden” where they could block out the modern world.
“We filmed from across the water,” Richards explains. “Which meant that we didn’t have to contend with the crowds of tourists. But we did have that on quite a few of our other locations, so when we were shooting, a lot of the emperors’ palace stuff, there were up to a thousand maybe more people with their phones out filming us. They would clear the space behind us so they could shoot on us – and then everything else was just full of people!”
The Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1632 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who had died the previous year. Built out of white marble over the next 20 years at an absolutely colossal cost, the Taj Mahal complex also includes a mosque, a guest house, formal gardens and a reflecting pool. It draws millions of visitors every year and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Before the cast headed out to India, they spent five weeks filming at a studio in Ealing – where a set was constructed for the interior of Beecham House:
Beecham House airs soon on ITV