Summer has to be my favourite time of the year, even though I live in Delhi. Regardless of the unbearable heat and dust all around, there’s something so calming about it that makes me feel at peace. Now, that the season has almost slipped away and time has come to pack up summer dresses, shorts and all things pastel, a nostalgia seems to have engulfed me, reminding me of the travels that summer of 2016 brought along. One such trip which hasn’t been documented yet was to Hyderabad, the City of Nawabs where I set out to explore the royal chambers with some of my best friends.
The day began with a journey to Salar Jung Museum which is an art museum located on the southern bank of the Musi river. The Salar Jung Museum hosts the largest one-man collection of antiques in the world. It is well known for its collections belonging to different civilizations dating back to the 1st century. Nawab Mir Yusuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III (1889–1949), former Prime Minister of the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, spent a substantial amount of his income over thirty five years to make this priceless collection, his life’s passion. One could easily spend an entire day here, collecting valuable information about the artifacts of display. It actually is a walk down history lane, with each piece of art being a masterpiece and craving for well deserved attention.
Salar Jung Museum set the tone right for the rest of the day which I spent exploring the royal connections of the city of Hyderabad. There is no dearth of heritage properties in the city, but given that I had only one day, I decided to cut the list short, postponing some items on my agenda for a second visit. Salar Jung Museum is anyway worth a full day but then time wasn’t on my side during this visit. Next up, we decided to visit the Chowmahalla Palace (translating into four palaces in one) which was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad while they ruled. The palace remains the property of Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, heir of the Nizams. It is believed to be modelled after Shah of Iran’s palace in Tehran which was built by Juveria Khan Rahimullah.
Chowmahalla Palace is easily one of the most beautiful palaces I have ever seen. Even though Rajasthan comes to mind when one thinks of palaces and forts, I am not sure if there is anything as beautiful as Chowmahalla Palace that the Rajputs ever constructed. This one seemed to be carved out of a fairytale and put on the map of Hyderabad. With it’s intricate designing, beautiful glass-work and best in class architecture, it is no wonder that Chowmahalla Palace was awarded the prestigious UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation. It took more than a century to complete this work of art, and any picture whatsoever cannot do justice to what is preserved behind the yellow walls of this masterpiece of a palace.
I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of workmanship that would have gone in making such a beauty. No wonder it took more than a hundred years to complete and also effortlessly transported me to the era when it was occupied by the Nizams of Hyderabad. No matter how much time you spend here, it will never be enough.
Next on my list was the Falaknuma Palace which again is a masterpiece of art and hosts many a stories of the times when Nizams ruled Hyderabad. We walked along the pretty banquet halls to the bedrooms and the bathrooms of the Nizams. Every aspect of every corner of the palace is so pretty that it’s a thing to stare at.Whether it’s a sofa that was ordered from Italy for Nizam’s begum, or chandeliers imported from Belgium or her bed or the art-work on window panes. The adjoining bathroom to queen’s bedroom also hosts world’s first bathtub made in marble and imported from England. Talk about royalty!
Falaknuma Palace left me craving for more though I didn’t have enough time to explore Purani Haveli , King Kothi , Chiran Palace and many more. Perhaps another visit to the City of Pearls has to be planned. When in the royal city of Nizams, it actually makes sense to explore the layers and layers of heritage that they have left behind. It’s yet another fact that when you spend an entire day amidst all things royal, you don’t want to come back home to the ordinary. I have found a perfect solution to that too – next time I am in town, I have to put up at one of the luxury hotels in Hyderabad so that I can relive royalty even after I leave those beautiful palaces behind.