Apr 12, 2013

Taj Falaknuma Palace - I

Every time I go to shoot pictures of an old building, I wish I was born way back in Hyderabad's 'good old days', but never as fervently as I did last week, when I was at the iconic Taj Falaknuma Palace! I had the opportunity to be invited to spend an afternoon at the exquisite palace, and what a wonderful journey back in time it was!

Falaknuma translates to "mirror of the sky" and built atop a hill and painted to match the sky, the palace does magically blend into the clouds. The Paigah Nawab Vikhar-ul-Umra commisioned the Falaknuma Palace in 1893, to be built by an English architect in the shape of a scorpion. Its interiors were filled with Belgian cut-glass chandeliers, marble statues, walls and floors in Italian marble, hand painted wooden ceilings and intricate wooden furniture. Unfortunately, all this put the Nawab into severe debt. His brother-in-law, the reigning Nizam Mahboob Ali Khan Asaf Jah VI, who came to visit his sister, loved the palace so much that the Nawab offered it to him as a gift! The generous Nizam would hear of no such thing, paid for the palace, and brought Nawab Vikhar-ul-Umra out of debt. He lived in this palace until his death in 1911. His son, Nizam Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII moved to the King Kothi palace and the Falaknuma Palace became the royal guesthouse. The last guest of the palace was India's first president, Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1951, after which it lay vacant for several decades. 

In 2000, The Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces began what would be a decade-long painstaking restoration of  the palace, personally supervised by Princess Esra Jah, the first wife of HEH Prince Mukarram Jah, the present Nizam. In 2010, The Taj Falaknuma Palace was opened to public, offering people around the world an opportunity to experience what it feels like to be a guest of the Nizam, in his own home!

The imposing gateway painted, like the rest of the palace, to match the sky
'Aadab!', the guard greeted us. And we walked through the arched gateway, into the past, leaving the present behind. 

This adorable horse-drawn carriage took us up the winding road to the palace at the top of the hill.
The palace gradually came into view
Impressed? You aint seen nothing yet :P
We took the steps to the palace, led by a guard carrying the Nizam's emblem.

Showered with rose petals as we entered
Italian marble fountain, exquisite frescoes, and tantalizing glimpses of what lay inside the palace.
We were met in this stunning marble lobby by one of the palace historians, who took us on a tour of the palace. He kept us enthralled with anecdotes about the palace and its residents, and his poetic Urdu made everything sound extra beautiful. We started the tour with the Nizam's office - I fell in love with the swiveling book case:

Seated in the painting is Nizam Mahboob Ali Khan Asaf Jah VI 
The gorgeous, gorgeous palace library, said to be a replica of the one in the Windsor Castle and known for its priceless manuscripts and the Nizam's Holy Quran collection.

I am convinced that time stands still in this room.
Some of the library's treasures.
The Nizam's wife's bedroom:

So graceful and so feminine
A seating nook in her bedroom under a photograph of her two sons:

The little Sahibzadas :)
We spent an entire afternoon at the palace and I filled up my camera's memory card to the brim :D I could go on and on adding more pictures to this post, but I think I'd better make this a series. I'll leave you with these pictures now, but there is a lot more coming up :) 

16 comments:

  1. Having recently visited the Chowmahallah, this place definitely looks a worthy sequel :) Thanks for the sharing Madhu, you are definitely showing a forgotten Hyderabad of the past! :)

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  2. This is super stuff. Very well shot.

    - @poetrification

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  3. my gosh! stunning pictures...

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  4. nizam is known for their lavish life and awesome decor, one who want to know how king and queen lived in golden days, I will surely ask the people to go through nizam life. they were the best(est) of all. the collection will be mind blowing. you are treasuring it up :)

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  5. I have seen this palace featured in several fashion magazine editorials...but the emphasis was always on the model/clothes, rather than the palace itself so it was lovely to get a glimpse into the gorgeous interiors! Hearting the four-poster bed...and the rose petal picture is so pretty!

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  6. Thank you all so much! Glad you like the pictures!

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  7. WOW... wow... i wanna live there!!!! or at least just be a guest :-P

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  8. Gorgeous! I am definitely going to visit this place sometime! :)

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  9. What a collection of pictures. Your blog is very good.

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  10. Anonymous6:27 PM

    GREAT job with the AMAZING photos, Love the passage of time in all these images.
    The pictures above are just beautiful. You make me want to move back to HYDERABD!! PLEASE keep up the good work.

    Shakir Hussain!

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  11. Hi Madhu,

    Yes, I am going to read every word and scan every detail of your pictures of the Falaknuma Palace, but just two lines into your post, all I can do is feel ever so envious of you, and wonder at the same time, how one can get 'invited' to spend a day at this splendid place I've been dying to go have my fill of!

    Meanwhile, any luck with finding/visiting the Asmangarh Palace, yet?

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  12. Pree, thegalnxtdoor, website4all, Shakir Hussain - thank you all so much for your kind comments!

    Sheen - I was invited as a blogger - because of this blog. I was there for a palace tour and lunch. But why wait to be invited - it's a hotel! Even if you're not staying there, you can go for a meal! Make sure you call and book a table, and also ask what time the palace tour is scheduled for, so you can join that too.

    I visited the Asmangarh Palace quite some time back. A school is being run in the building now, and one needs prior permission for photography. The person to be contacted for this wasn't available that day and I haven't been able to go again.

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  13. stunning photos madhu, can u please let me know the fare for visiting the place and also the timings to visit...
    thanks in advance

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  14. Anonymous7:30 AM

    Thanks for the sharing

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  15. Girish Gogula2:03 AM

    awesome clicks madhu... i being hyderabadi dint get time to visit the palace ...may be clicks are more beautifull than if its originally seen ...........

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  16. Khurram Mirza4:58 AM

    Beautiful pictures and beautifully presented. Great job Madhu
    Thanks once again

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