Nawabs and Nizams have trod the glorious soils of India and left behind their gilded footprints in the form of palaces and forts. The Falaknuma Palace is one such remnant that reminds us of the days when grandeur adorned India’ skylines.
When I visited this historical masterpiece, I was as intrigued by its illustrious history as by the amazing frescoes and gilded relief crowning its ceilings. Whenever I looked up I realised I was staring at a massive expanse of sculptured art as huge as the sky above it. It made me realise why the palace was given the name Falak Numa the Urdu translation of which means ‘like the sky’ or ‘the mirror of the sky’.
Each of the 222 exclusively decorated rooms and 22 ornate halls of the palace houses paintings, sculptures and a host of other rare treasures and memorabilia which etches out Indian history in all its gilded glory. I stopped dead when I saw the huge organ installed in the palace Ball room. The instrument which was said to have been operated manually weighs around 2 tonnes and is also known to be one of the only one of its kind available in the whole world. I was just wondering how they managed to get them here when I was mesmerised by the amazing collection of Jade articles, once again unique to the palace and its lineage.
The 108 foot long dining table paired with rosewood chairs and gold and crystal encrusted tableware stands in all its regal grace in the dining room. If I could ever imagine myself being one of the 100 guests it was designed to seat, I knew all I could do was to simply stare at such a grand thing. Its opulence definitely makes you forget about food.
Sir Viccar, the great grandson of Khuddus, a scientist, was responsible for laying the foundation of this magnificent piece of art in 1884. It took almost nine years to complete and Sir Viccar personally supervised the laying of the Italian marbles and the Venetian chandeliers which still adorn the palace even today. In 1897 Sir Viccar, in order to save himself from cash crunch much of which was owing to the expenditure incurred in building this opulent palace, invited the 6th Nizam of Hyderabad to enjoy the palace as his own. The Nizam agreed and ownership of Falaknuma soon passed on to Nizam Mehboob Ali Pasha. Owing to the sweeping view of the entire city that the place afforded, the Nizam used the palace as his royal guest house.
Falaknuma stands testimony to the progress of history much of which has had a direct impact on its own destiny. In 2000, the palace was handed over to the Taj Hotels for restoration. In 2010, it opened its doors to accommodate the public who wished to savour the Nizami opulence.
The Falaknuma, the mirror of the sky, still welcomes guests and transcends them to an era which none have experienced and few could imagine ever existed; another wonder of India that keeps enticing people to walk through its doors and get bewitched.