Falaknuma Palace is the jewel in the crown of Hyderabad. Its Shining glory, its very own signature luxury symbol is a heritage property dating back to 19th CE. I visited Falaknuma twice, once to have dinner there on our special day and once again to take the heritage tour. There is nothing Indian about this palace except the hospitality that is as Indian as it can get. Here is my list of 10 things you must see /do at Falaknuma:
Take the Ride in Horse Drawn Carriage – Do not forget to have a close look at the coat of arms inscribed on the door. Feel like a royal as the carriage carries you from the tall gateway to the front lawns of the palace where someone is waiting for you with a welcome drink. From here a commander leads you to the foyer of the palace as the rose petals are showered on you. Left stairs are taken to enter just as Nizam used to do. I kept wondering where they are coming from, but when you are there just enjoy the moment. Get soaked in the itr or perfume showered on you along with the flowers handed over to you.
Meet the the Resident Historian – To my knowledge, this is the only heritage property that has a resident historian who has studied the history of the palace and takes you through the corridors of history that the palace has seen. He not only explains you the various types of chandeliers, wooden panels or marbles and paintings in the palace but also tells you stories of the richest man this world has seen and who lived in this very palace.
Sit in Nizam’s Chair to sign the visitor’s book – Sit in the chair of Nizam with his huge painting behind you, his book case by your side, an old white telephone set on table and an old ornate clock overlooking you. Pick up the peacock-feathered fountain pen, dip it in the ink pot in front and write your comments on visitors book. You can read what other guests have written if you have time.
Admire the Paintings – Key places to see the paintings are the entrance foyer that has some amazing paintings on the ceilings with Greek Goddesses that take various poses as you move from one angle to another. Elements of heaven like heavenly bodies can be seen everywhere in the palace and you can start observing them right from the foyer. Most magificient paintings can be seen on the walls around staircase and various rooms – these are primarily portraits of various people including that of Amir Vicar-Ul-Umra who built this palace or Nizam Mehboob Ali who bought this palace from him.
See some rare books – Palace boasts of a beautiful library with rare 5970 books some of which are available to guests for reading. Check out some old copies of Encyclopedia Britannica and first edition of Titanic. Notice the wood paneled ceiling with the initials of the builder of the palace V and O engraved all over. This seems to be a trend amongst the royalty of Nizam.
Talk around the Dining Table – World’s longest dining table that can seat 101 guests under the bright lights of shining chandeliers is something that would leave you wide eyed. Look at the table layout that takes many hours to prepare. I loved the combination of silver gold plates with bidriware glasses. Now the most interesting feature of this room is its acoustics. You can be sitting at a distance where you may not be able to see each other but you would still be able to speak to each other at normal volume.
Walk around the palace – Try and imagine the days of Nizam when he used to live here, with women living in Zenana, visitors from across the world visiting or stopping by. Imagine Nizam going out for Shikar using the carriages here with his troupes. Shop at the Khazan shop cum museum on the ground floor and see some old and new pictures of the palace, buy some handcrafted products from the region, all of them displayed on the old furniture.
Take 360 Deg view of the city – Go around the property and see the various top views of the city. At some angle you can see the vast spread of the city, at another you see the Falaknuma station and you can see the trains crawling through the city, and from yet another you see the rocky beds of Hyderabad. At the Sunset, sun plays with the landscape and it is just lovely there.
Enjoy the Music on Hill Top – If you go there for dinner, go a little early so that you can sit in the Gol Bungalow and enjoy the Qawwali sung by local youth as the staff of the hotel serves you drinks and snacks. This is almost like a perfect setting for see the sun go down.
Walk around to figure out the Scorpio – This palace is designed in the shape of a Scorpio, the sun sign of the architect of the palace, William Mariet. Apparently, there is no Arial view picture of the palace to see but you can walk around and spot the various parts of Scorpio. Two stings spread out as wings on the north, the middle part or the body of the scorpion comprises of the Zenana Mahal on one side and the Mess Khana i.e. Kitchen and the Telephone Exchange on the other. The Gol Bungalow that forms the tail has a dome structure with an iron protrusion, which looks like the sting of the scorpion.