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    Falaknuma Palace-A peek into the lifestyle of a Nizam.

    Traveling Sardar

    by Traveling Sardar

    Falaknuma Palace is one of the finest palaces in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. It belonged to Paigah Hyderabad State, and it was later owned by the Nizams. It is on a 32-acre (13 ha) area in Falaknuma, 5 km from Charminar. It was built by Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra, the then-prime minister of Hyderabad and the uncle and brother-in-law of H.H. The Nizam VI, Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan Bahadur. Falak-numa means "Like the Sky" or "Mirror of the Sky" in Urdu.

    Amir e Paigah Sir Vicar Ul Umra prime minister of Hyderabad and Berar used this palace as his private residence until it changed owners and the palace was handed over to H.H. The 6th Nizam of Hyderabad around 1897-1898. Sir Vicar ul Umra — apart from being the prime minister of Hyderabad — was also the Amir of Paigah and was the maternal grandson of H.H. the Nizam III Nawab Sikandar Jah Bahadur. He was married to H.H Nizam VI Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan's older sister Princess Jahandarunnisa Begam Sahiba, also known as Lady Viqar ul Umra.(The monogramme VO for Viqar ul Omra is seen on every part and the furniture of the palace.)

    The Falaknuma Palace was so costly to build that even Sir Viqar Ul Umra had to borrow money to complete it and realized that he had gone beyond his means. His very intelligent wife, Lady Viqar ul Umra, thought up a solution and advised her husband to invite Mehboob Ali Pasha Nizam VI to the palace. As anticipated, the Nizam liked the palace so much that he extended his stay and this prompted Sir Viqar to offer that if his sovereign liked the palace he would be honoured to give it to him. The Nizam liked the gesture but, being the grand man he was, he had his treasurer send the entire amount spent on the palace to Sir Viqar, thus easing his paigah noble from a financial crunch. The Nizam VI in 1897 used the palace as a royal guest house as it had a commanding view of the entire city.

    After being a celebration of royal living and playing host to royalty and dignitaries from all over the globe, the Falaknuma fell silent after the 1950s when the Nizam moved to his next abode. The responsibility of the restoration to its original grandeur was led by Her Highness princess asra jah the first wife of the VII nizam, who also built a mini palace whcich was completed in 2012 near the old building for her personal use.

    Piecing together Falaknuma’s past glory was perhaps the biggest challenge of the restoration. These came with other challenges like retaining the eclectic blend of Renaissance architecture, Baroque style, French charm, art deco sensibilities and other inspirations that were woven into the décor of the palace yet retaining its true-blue Nizam flavour. The restoration was extensive sourcing the perfect upholstery to redo the sofas and chairs, choosing fresh drapes to match the taste of the Nizams, polishing the marble, repairing damaged pieces, recreating broken structures, and blending in new wings and spaces for more rooms, extra landscape, and additional restaurants.