The Falaknuma Palace stands tall like a diamond in the sky in the city of Hyderabad. Borrowing beauty from across the world, the palace’s architecture is a mix of different 19th-century European styles. Back in the day, the nizamsof Hyderabad were among the richest people in the world, owners of diamond mines, pearls, rubies, and gems. The nizams have contributed two centuries worth of art and culture towards Hyderabad’s history. The city was governed by the Asaf Jahi dynasty’s seven nizamsfrom 1720 to 1948. Building up Hyderabad’s grandiosity one architectural marvel at a time, the seventh nizam was the one responsible for most of today’s historical marvels, like the Chowmahalla Palace, Unani hospital, Hyderabad High Court, and more. The foundation stone for Falaknuma Palace was laid on March 3, 1884, and the construction took 10 years. The palace has hosted royal guests like King George V and Queen Mary, Prince of Wales, heads of state like Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, and more recently in 2017, American businesswoman and US President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.
A Dream Come True: The History Of The Palace
Falaknuma Palace was the result of Sir Vicar-Ul-Umra, the sixth nizam’s Prime Minister’s imagination. It is believed that sometime in the 1880s, he stood on the top of a hill on the outskirts of Hyderabad and dreamt of a grand palace that was shaped like a scorpion. Sir Vicar then set out to make this dream come true and hired a British architect. The palace is spread over 32 acres and is 2,000 feet above sea level. Sitting on a hilltop, the palace towers over Hyderabad like the throne of the sixth nizam, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, who lived there until he died in 1911. Since the palace sits on a hilltop, the name Falaknuma translates to ‘mirror of the sky’ in Urdu.
Designing An Architectural Marvel: Features Of The Palace
Built to resemble the shape of a scorpion, Falaknuma Palace has buildings spread out like wings, and the Gol Bungalow that looks similar to a scorpion’s tail with its domes and protrusions. The construction of the palace was completed in 1894. The palace was built lavishly with Italian marble, wooden ceilings, walnut wood interiors, and mirrors. This almost drove Sir Vicar to bankruptcy and cost him a whopping 40,00,000 INR (which might not seem like much currently, but was a huge sum at that time). The sixth nizam visited the palace in 1897 and saw the grandeur of the magnificent palace. This led to him buying the palace and living there from 1897 to 1911.
Since the palace sits on a hilltop, it offers beautiful views of prominent monuments of Hyderabad like Golconda Fort and Charminar. Right from the gateway to the palace’s interiors, every bit oozes grandeur. The foyer is studded with a picturesque fountain that is ornate with exquisitely carved figures of angels and dolphins. The ceiling has a fascinating painting of a mighty eagle spreading its wings in the sky. The palace also has a unique two-tonne pipe organ that can play 36 tones. The organ was manufactured in the United Kingdom and is operated using a winding key.
Keeping Company To Greek Muses: Grand Staircase
Falaknuma Palace has a mixture of Italian and Tudor architecture and has Venetian chandeliers, 60 luxurious rooms, outdoor terraces, alluring ceiling paintings, and rare artefacts. The enchanting Grand Staircase has exquisite marble statues of muses from Greek mythology. Originally, there were nine muses, but only eight have survived with inscriptions. The three-level staircase is made of marble and is suspended with the support of four pillars. The staircase walls bear pictures of 36 British Viceroys and Governor Generals of India. The Jade Room, situated above the staircase, is decorated with objects that depict the four seasons of spring, summer, winter, and autumn.
Step In The Kingdom Come: Durbar Hall And Dining Hall
The Dining Hall is one of the wonders of the palace. It houses the world’s longest table that can seat 101 guests. The hall was constructed in seven pieces and has five splendid chandeliers. The 100 feet long table is also surrounded by an acoustic system.
Beautiful Belgian chandeliers hang from the roof of the Durbar Hall. The hall weaves its own enchanting story with 600 timber diamond-shaped panels that flood the floor. The Durbar Hall is considered to be the most beautiful space in the palace. The velvet drapes and Victorian-style stained glass window panels that filter in the sunlight make the hall seem right out of a fairytale. The Durbar Hall is also called the Ballroom in Paradise.
The Mind Palace: Library
Falaknuma Palace only offers the finest things in life, from a royal dining experience to a well-stocked library. While it is advisable not to judge a book by its cover, let it be an exception this time. This library’s cover is beautifully made of rosewood and mahogany. The roof is carved out of walnut as the library attempts to mirror Windsor Castle’s library. The royal library stores around 5,976 personal books of the Nizam. Also, there are many books on English, Persian, and Urdu literature. Varying genres like travel, art, gardening, architecture, and detailed illustrations of books like ‘1,001 Arabian Nights’ and ‘Fairy Tales’ by Hans Christian Anderson. Spread across an area of 83.17 square metres, the library acts as a passage to different halls in the palace. While the pages of these books might look brown and faded, it is believed that they are of better quality than the paper we now use.
Reviving Centuries Worth Of Art: Restoration
The titular nizam, Mukkaram Jah, leased the palace to the Taj Group of hotels in 2000 as maintaining it became difficult. The restoration was completed over 10 years and under the supervision of Princess Esra Jah, the nizam’s wife. Falaknuma Palace was opened in 2010 for people to enjoy the royal experience. The lavish rooms offer spectacular views of the palace courtyard and Hyderabad. The process of restoration was not an easy one. The extravagant chandeliers were imported and custommade from Osler of London, 19th-century expert chandelier makers. Details such as fabrics and patterns were taken care of with yarns for carpets imported from New Zealand and dyed 200 times to match the original colour. The ceiling paintings, handmade designs, wooden flooring, and camel-leather upholstery took a lot of time and effort to restore.
The Taj Experience: Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel
The Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel stands a symbol of Hyderabad’s royal and colourful past. The palace was returned to its previous glory and opened to the public as a royal indulgence. The inspirations of the palace were the White House and Buckingham Palace, so the rooms have four-poster beds made of rosewood. The palace offers a royal experience where you can sit at the nizam’s desk and write letters with his onyx quill. The Nizam Suite is the most expensive and decadent one, that can be yours for INR 5 to 8 lakh per night. The suite is a duplex with high ceilings and crystal chandeliers. The nizam experience extends to guests being treated to a private qawwali (spiritual music) performance and a personal tour.
How To Reach There And Where to Eat
The royal treatment starts with guests being welcomed in a horse-drawn carriage. The palace also has spas, outdoor pools, antique baths and well-maintained gardens. The palace also has in-house restaurants Adaa, for Hyderabadi cuisine, and Celeste, for Mediterranean food. You can also experience the Falaknuma Palace high tea at the Jade Terrace. You can also have the unique Falaknuma Palace dinner at the Gol Bungalow overlooking the city. Taj Falaknuma Palace buffet price rates depend on the restaurant you choose.
You can see the palace through Telangana Tourism—NIZAM PALACES TOUR, which has different tour options with inclusions of transport, tour guides, tea and refreshments. The Falaknuma Palace entry ticket cost depends on the type of tour you book. You can book these tours online and they are only available on Saturday and Sunday. Falakunama Palace entry ticket prices range from INR 2,000 to INR 3,100 for adults and INR 1,600 to INR 2,480 for children. These tours also include visits to other monuments like Charminar and Golconda Fort.
Make The Extravagant Choice
In the lap of luxury, Taj Falaknuma Palace offers a nizam’s life with period furnishings and decorated artefacts. It is a once in a lifetime experience that welcomes families and other travellers. A centre for history, art and culture, the palace also offers views of colourful sunrises, melting sunsets, and starry nights.