If you ever dream to live in a palace, Hyderabad has something just for you. The Taj Falaknuma, one of the India’s most opulent palaces, is set on a hillock with sweeping views across Hyderabad below.
Of the seven Nizams who governed Hyderabad from 1720 to 1948, the richest was the last, Mir Osman Ali Khan, who was regarded as the wealthiest man on Earth. Nizam’s love affair with the palaces was very well known but the most favourite of all was the Falaknuma. Prime Minister of the Nizam, Viqar Ul Omra, stayed in the palace for a long time and later gifted it to another Nizam.
The grandeur of the palace invites the guests to experience the lavish lifestyle of the Nizams who ruled over the princely states. The palace was closed from the early 50s to 2000. It was then leased to Taj Hotels for 30 years by the Nizam Prince Mukkaram Jah Bahadur when it underwent massive restoration work. Princess Esra Jah spearheaded the restoration work to its original shape.
The Falaknuma Palace was laid out in the shape of a scorpion with a double stinging tail. Known as “Mirror of the Sky”, it was constructed in the classical style from Italian marble, with hints of art nouveau. No expense was spared to create it – a European masterpiece on the plains of central India.
We had booked for an evening hi tea which is an economical way to witness the grandeur of the palace. A golf cart took us to the main gate. There’s no reception desk, no concierge, none of the trappings of a hotel. Rather, there’s a sense that you are a guest in the Nizam’s home.
As you enter the palace, you are first taken for a tour where you are accompanied by a palace historian to give you a quick history recap. We first went through the Library. As I’ve read in the books about the interiors of a palace, it was exactly like that. The ceiling is monogrammed with the initials of ‘VO’ and the tall wooden shelves with books kept in proper alignment, the library was an appealing room for learning with a royal touch. Walking through the space, you get a sense of the limitless power held by the Nizams.
Passing through a small doorway, we emerged into the cavernous dining room. Running down the centre is one of the longest dining tables in the world. Thirty-three metres in length, made from teak and rosewood, it can seat 101 guests and was once laid with the Nizam’s gold cutlery and plates.
We were then taken for our hi tea. We chose a vegetarian as well as a non vegetarian platter. The cutlery used to serve will give you a feeling of being a guest of a Royal. The best part about the hi tea was the mini dessert bar where you can have as many desserts you like. Do I even have to mention how finger licking the food was?
The entire experience of walking through the grand palace and passing through the hallways, illuminated by marble lamps and adorned with portraits of the Nizams looming down in giant rococo frames is amazing. The gardens with fountains and innumerable flowerpots brighten up the entire palace. As you step into the palace, you feel like a royal guest.
So, if you are planning a visit to Hyderabad, I hope Falaknuma tops the list of places you’ll visit. You will come back home with a very different experience and an amazing evening.