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Rediff.com  » Business » Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Last updated on: November 11, 2010 12:32 IST

Image: Falaknuma Palace hotel.
Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad

This palace hotel is tipped to be the grandest of all palace hotels in India. The 19th century's magnificent Falaknuma Palace, a gem in the royal legacy of the Nizams of Hyderabad, is completely decked up to welcome the rich and the famous in its new avatar of a seven star luxury hotel of the Taj Group.

Falaknuma or the 'Mirror of the Sky', located atop a 500-acre hillock 'Kohi-Toor' has been restored to pristine glory after a painstaking effort that lasted for over a decade.

The hotel now looks resplendent and dazzling as a bride.

Photographs: Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: A historic hotel.
Built in European style with marble statues, Grecian pillars, high ceilings, sprawling courtyards, manicured lawns and fountains, the two-storied palace was first the residence of Prime Minister Viqarul Umra (who built it) and then occupied by the sixth Nizam Mir Mahboob Ali Khan.

After his demise, the last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan (who was the world's richest man) used it as the guest house for the foreign visitors including Prince of Wales (later King) Edward VII, Nicholas II, a future Tsar of Russia.

Viqarul Umra spent a whopping Rs 40,00,000, who later sold it to the Nizam.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: The glittering interiors.
With a fresh coat of bluish paint, (the same colour it wore when built in 1890), and the newly laid and repaired themed gardens, relaid path ways, glittering Belgian chandeliers, carpets, restored 19th century paintings, a library full of 5000 odd classic books and manuscripts, Falaknuma Palace is bustling with life almost hundred years after it witnessed the death of a King.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: The palace gets a life.
"It is really heartening after such a long hard work to see the place brimming with people," Ranjit Philipose, general manager, Taj Falaknuma Palace says.

Though the Taj Group already has three palaces in its repertoire - Taj Lake Palace, Umaid Bhavan Palace and Rambagh Palace all in Rajasthan - Falaknuma Palace will be the most luxurious and expensive of them all. It is expected to be the most sought palace hotel among the choosy business and leisure visitors.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: Nizam's Hukka.
Though the Hotel will be formally opened on November 13 in the presence of a select gathering including the 8th Nizam Prince Mukarram Jah, Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, and Princess Esra, former wife of Nizam from Turkey, it has already started testing the systems by inviting selected guests.

The expansive palace has 60 rooms including 15 suites.

The most majestic and ostentatious, undoubtedly, is the 'Nizam Suite', or 'Grand Presidential Suite', a duplex suit with private pool, a private garden and separate sitting and dining rooms and a most luxurious king size bed room, will cost a fortune to stay.

Its tariff is Rs 500,000 per day plus taxes.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: A great restoration work.
But don't be disappointed. For lesser mortals there are other rooms with a starting tariff of Rs 25,000 plus taxes.

That the restoration of a neglected palace, left to the mercy of vagaries of weather and time, was done in a most meticulous manner would be an understatement.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: The grand staircase.
Under the hawk-like supervision of Princess Esra, the historic palace was restored by a number of agencies, experts in different fields like the construction, ornate furniture, jade, linen and brocades, carpets, paintings, Venetian chandeliers, lighting, and acoustics and so on.

"At the peak of restoration, 800 people were working on the project," Ranjit Phillipose says.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: Nizam's antique billards table.
"For the carpeting of the Palace, yarn was brought and was dyed 300 times to match it with the original work", Phillipose said.

Similarly, the restoration of the Fresco painting on the roof of a hall took one-and-a-half years.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: A 200-year old fan.
The uniqueness of the painting is that it is three-dimensional and the eyes of the eagle in the painting seem to follow as you move from one corner to another in the hall.

Taking a leaf out of the book of the sixth Nizam Mir Mehboob Ali Khan, even the interiors of the drawers of the dressing tables are covered with silk linen.

Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: Supposed to be the world's longest dining table.
"The Nizam had covered the interiors of the wardrobe so that his wife would not get hurt by any wooden chip. We have taken the same care for our guests", said Sharon Fernandes, one of the executives of the hotel.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: Palace hotel ready to greet guests.
Some of the old rooms of the Palace including the Chinese Whisper room, where the royal ladies used to sit for chatting, Begum's Suite, the library, has been kept aside and will be accessible to all the guests.

Nizam's breakfast room has been turned in to a conference room for board meetings.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: Meeting room.
There is a surfeit of antiques and rare artefacts in the palace, which Taj Group was lucky to get along with the leased building and which has added to the glitter of the palace hotel.

They include a rare majestic Orchestreone, which can give 45 different tunes at the same time, world's longest dining table with 101 chairs, a billiards room, original refrigerators of GE Company and Hyderabad's first petrol pump.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: A grand revival.
Apart from the restoration of the palace, a new row of rooms have been built facing the Zenana Quarters of the original palace in a manner that one can not differentiate between the old and the new structure.

The new structure is named 'Palace Mogra'.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: A royal retreat.
The courtyard, the terrace as well as the balconies of the European style palace give a bird's eye view of the entire city of Hyderabad, specially the area around historic Charminar and Mecca Masjid.

"It is breath taking view especially in the evenings and night. You feel as if the diamonds and rubies are spread all around you", says Prabhakar Rao, another executive.

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Check out the grand Falaknuma Palace hotel!

Image: Great view of the city.
The Taj Falaknuma also boasts of two restaurants - Italian restaurant Celeste and Indian restaurant Adaa, Jiva Spa, a glittering Durbar Hall, Jade room with a breathtaking view of the city.

Well, if Hyderabad had been on the itinerary of Barack Obama, he would have been awestruck!