palace turned Taj Hotel opens
Falaknuma Palace, one of the historical landmarks of Hyderabad and
which was once owned by the erstwhile nizams, has been thrown open
as luxury hotel.
After 10 years of extensive and sensitive restoration, the
relaxing in the private chambers of the Nizam, sitting in the
splendid Durbar Hall that hosted guests like King George V and
Czar Nicholas II and having access to every luxury that was once
the exclusive preserve of the erstwhile rulers of Hyderabad.
Welcome to Falaknuma Palace, one of the finest of the dozen
palaces of the Nizam, which has now been converted into a luxury
hotel by the Taj Group of Hotels.
"Guests can experience enchanting moments of luxury while reliving
chapters from the lives of the Nizams," said Ranjit Phillipose,
general manager, Taj Falaknuma Palace.
Falaknuma, or 'mirror of the sky' in Urdu, has come alive after a
century. It took 10 years of painstaking work by the Taj Group to
breathe life into the scorpion-shaped, all-marble palace in the
old city, five kilometres from the historic Charminar.
Once the residence of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan (1869-1911), the sixth
Nizam, the palace had been lying unused since 1911. Built over 32
acres and perched atop a hill, the palace has now opened its doors
to guests with all its opulent interiors and breathtaking views.
Falaknuma Palace is a majestic blend of Italian and Tudor
architecture, with 60 lavish rooms and halls decorated with ornate
furniture, rich handcrafted tapestries and brocade from France.
The interiors are a splendid interplay of Venetian chandeliers and
intricate frescos, and have charming outdoor terraces, and a
treasure of rare artefacts, including paintings, statues,
furniture, manuscripts and books.
The Jade Room, deriving its name from a rare collection of jades,
boasts of a Victorian painted ceiling and gilded reliefs.
The palace is also home to a 101-seat dining hall, and the Durbar
Hall, embellished with intricately carved wooden ceilings, parquet
flooring, regal walnut wood furniture and handcrafted mirrors.
"The restoration work was challenging. We paid attention to every
single item," said Mamta Singh, a Taj Group executive.
The corridors of Falaknuma are filled with elegance and intrigue,
two hallmarks of royal living worldwide.
From the zanana wing for ladies to the gossip room - where the
Nizam used to discuss the day's events with his family - every
nook and corner of the palace has its own history. The Nizam's
writing table, for instance, has a priceless Jacob diamond, which
was once used as a paperweight.
The Nizam's breakfast room has been converted into a conference
room, an oasis of modernity in the century-old palace.
The two halls in the 'Gole bungalow' have been transformed into
restaurants serving Italian, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine,
perhaps in deference to the architectural inspirations of the
Though it is the fourth palace in the country which the Taj Group
has converted to a luxury hotel, executives say Falaknuma stands
apart in its splendour and majesty.
It was Nawab Vaqar-ul-Umra, the Nizam's prime minister, who built
the palace in 1893. Impressed by its magnificence, the Nizam
bought it for himself.
The palace has many firsts to its name. "It had the country's
first GE refrigerator, first electrical switch board, first
telephone exchange, first petrol pump, and first attached
bathroom," Singh explained during a walkthrough.
Princess Esra Birgin, the first wife of Mukarram Jah, the scion of
the Nizam family, played a key role in the restoration of the
Custom-designed furnishings and carpets were shipped from Turkey,
and the interiors were designed by Princess' cousin Ruia Makan,
who runs a design company in London. The exquisite crockery and
food are sourced from nine countries, including Italy, France and
The palace offers a breathtaking view of the city, including from
the 'Gole' terrace, which was restored with glass flown in from
France and Poland.
Taj Group promises to treat you like a Nizam right from the moment
you arrive at the clock tower, the main entrance of Falaknuma
Palace, from where the guests are ferried on a 'bagghi' (horse
"Everything that we offer is luxury, but it comes with a premium.
The whole idea is to give a glimpse of a day in the life of Nizam,"
sums up Singh.
And finally, how much do the 'commoners' have to shell out to live
like a Nizam?
A sum of Rs.5 lakh (over $11,000) a day, making it the most
expensive palace hotel in the country. For the less fortunate, the
hotel also offers suites at Rs.33,000 per day, plus taxes.
And if the waiting list of the Taj Falaknuma Palace is anything to
go by, many consider it a small price to pay for an experience of
Shafeeq can be contacted at email@example.com)