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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad, AP, India

The city of Hyderabad is replete with imposing monuments which give a clue to the rich historical background of the land. A remarkable travel destination.

Falaknuma palace is a remarkable edifice which stands atop a 200 feet high hillock. It is located 5 kms from Charminar. Built by Nawab Vikar-Ul-Ulmara, the Prime Minister of Hyderabad, it is a stupendous palace and connotes the "heavenly abode".

Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad stands as a testimony to the glorious time of the Nizams. It is one of the finest pieces of architecture and is situated in Falaknuma. Engineered by the famous architect Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra, this palace connotes "Star of Heaven" in the Urdu language.

It is believed that the Falaknuma palace was gifted to the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mehboob Ali Khan by the generous Nawab. The palace was constructed over a period of seven years and it covers a total area of 9,39,712 square meters.

A majesty testimony to the glory of the Nizams, it stands atop a hill 2000 feet high. It has often been referred to as the 'Mirror of the Sky'. The palace was designed by a Italian architect and follows a western architectural style. Falaknuma houses a large collection of rare treasures collected by the Nizam including paintings, statues, furniture, manuscripts and books

The palace is laid out in the shape of a scorpion with two stings spread out as wings on the north. The middle part is occupied by the main building and the kitchen and harem quarters stretch to the south. The Nawab being an avid traveler, various influences show on the palace architecture. The Falaknuma palace is a rare blend of Italian and Tudor architecture. Its glass stained windows throw a spectrum of colors into the rooms. The palace has a library with a walnut carved roof, a replica of the one at Windsor Castle. The library had one of the finest collections of the holy Quran in India.

The Falaknuma palace has other unique things to its credit. It includes the largest Venetian chandeliers. It is said that it took six months to clean a 138-arm Osler chandelier and the palace has 40 such chandeliers adorning the halls ! The famed dining hall of the palace could seat 100 guests on a single table. The furniture is also very aesthetic. The chairs are carved rosewood with green leather upholstery. The tableware was made of gold and crystal to which fluted music was added.

The telephone and electrical system was introduced in 1883 by Osler and the palace has one of the largest electrical switchboards in India.

The ground floor of the palace houses the living quarters. The marbled staircase leads to the upper floor. It has carved balustrades which supports marble figures with candelabra at intervals. The ceiling of the reception room in the upper floor is carved with frescoes bordered with gilded relief. This floor offers a panoramic view of the city.

The ballroom contains a two-ton manually operated organ said to be the only one of its kind in the world. This apart the palace has as many as 220 lavishly decorated rooms and 22 spacious halls. The palace has some of the finest treasures collected by the Nizam. However, the palace has proved to be fatal to those who have resided there for a long period. The scorpion-like structure is believed to be the cause of all deaths.

There Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad is counted as one of the most imposing monuments because of the large number of rooms built for various purposes. There are a total of 222 opulent rooms and 22 roomy halls. There are billiard room, card room smoking room, huge dining hall and others. The rooms are beautifully decorated with arches, upholstery, gilded works and state of the art furniture. The reception room is the major highlight of the palace with gilded decors and frescos.

The palace at present is a part of the Taj Group and has been converted into a plush 5 star hotel. To get inside the Falaknuma Palace, you need to take prior permission. October to March is the ideal time to visit this palace.

Prior permission is required to visit this palace. And a visit to the Falaknuma palace is an awe-inspiring experience !


ajita vishwas said...

O yes, a superb article. good photographs. after visiting hyderabad, i personally felt that a part of it should atleast be opened for public viewing atleast on few days!