When in Hyderabad, do as the Nizams do and hence, I decided to taste this extravagant slice of the magnificent Nizam luxury. Taj Falaknuma Palace is to say the least, experiential hospitality at its best.
Hyderabad is the land of Nizams renowned for their sheer richness and grandeur living. That was some 200 years back, but in current times if one wants to experience the magnificence of the bygone Nizam era then Hotel Taj Falaknuma Palace is the most undisputed choice. No words can suffice the beauty of this palace; however, I have tried to sum up its gorgeousness in my best possible manner.
Here are some reasons that make Taj Falaknuma Palace a must visit destination-
- Royal welcome
The moment you arrive at the hotel gate you are ushered into a decorated horse-drawn chariot operated by uniformed charioteers that makes one feel like royalty. This chariot leaves you in front of the hotel façade where guests are treated to refreshing welcome drinks, cold towels and then escorted by the Nizam’s coat of arms (just the way it was done in Nizam’s era) and rose petals showered on the guests as they traverse the spectacular marble staircase. By far, the most unforgettable welcome I have ever received.
- Unique high tea experience
Food is always a unique selling point at Taj Hotels but the high tea experience is something to cherish. The guests are given a tour of the hotel before they are led to Celeste Restaurant where the high tea experience is much richer than lunch or dinner itself. An assortment of cookies, sandwiches (all which I haven’t tasted earlier, think Gulkand sandwich, beetroot and carrot flavoured breads made into sandwiches), mocktails, chaats, vegetable tarts, samosas, puffs – the variety is as amazing as the taste. Varieties of tea and an entire aisle full of desserts from Indian mithai to cakes and pastries is enough to tantalise the best of foodies. Also, the traditional Hyderbadi sweet- Khubaani ka meetha is served- it tasted great.
- Palace tour
The highlight of the Falaknuma Palace is the tour that gives a stunning insight into the lavishness of Nizam’s lifestyle. Each element of this tour is like magic unfolding before your eyes leaving the guests spellbound. Whether it is the large billiards table (only two of its kind-second one in the Buckingham Palace in UK, with rotating lights over it or the jaw-dropping artefacts, Falaknuma Palace is no less than a museum of its kind.
- Dining room
While the entire palace is a majestic shout-out to regality and augustness of the highest order, there’s the dining room that deserves a special mention. This 100- seater dining table is the world’s most luxurious and has the longest dining table with amazing acoustics. Even if two people are seated at the either ends of the table (108 feet apart), they can speak to each other in normal voice tones. Culinary scenes and food items are painted on the walls so that the Nizam could simply pin point his choice for dinner. Those stashed with oodles of cash can host a dinner in this dining room- the cost of which could go upto INR 10 lakhs for upto 10 people.
- Architecture and interiors
Juxtaposed to the royal interiors of the palace, the Falaknuma Palace owns a pleasing grey façade in western architecture and reflects a rare blend of Tudor and Italian architecture built heavily in Italian marble. The foyer is studded with a picturesque fountain with exquisitely carved figurines of angels and dolphins. The ceiling has a fascinating painting of a mighty angel spreading its wings with a unique 3-d effect. The enchanting Grand Staircase has exquisite marble statues of muses from Greek mythology and mammoth paintings hanging on either side. Beautiful Belgian chandeliers hang from the roof in various parts of the palace. The Durbar Hall weaves its own enchanting story with 600 timber diamond-shaped panels that flood the floor. The Durbar Hall is also called the Ballroom in Paradise with chandeliers weaving light into the mirrors as if lending an infinity effect. The velvet drapes and Victorian-style-stained glass window panels that filter in the sunlight make the hall seem right out of a fairy-tale.
There are 60 well- appointed guestrooms and suites at the hotel. I stayed in the contemporarily designed room, which opens into the garden filled with Mughal -style fountains, manicured lawns leading to beautiful views of the city. The palace might be historical but the rooms are modern with flat screen TVs with satellite and a DVD player, a marble bathroom with a deep- soaking tub, separate shower and Ploh bathrobes. I also took a sneek peek into the most coveted Nizam suite which is the most expensive and decadent one and costs roughly INR INR 7.5 Lacs per night. The Nizam Suite is a two-storeyed villa that comes with a private pool, crystal chandeliers, jacuzzi and an inbuilt lift. The ornate work on the cupboards is stupendous as are the period fabrics and furnishings.
Unmissable things to see at the Taj Falaknuma Palace-
- 100-seater dining table
- Billiards Table
- Massive paintings
- Lamps that work both on kerosene and electricity
- Belgian chandeliers
- Tiled flooring
- Stunning paintings with 3- D effect.
- Marble fountains
- Ceilings with stucco work
- Victorian bath-tubs with perfume spray
Book lovers have another reason to rejoice as the Taj Falaknuma Palace library is stocked with gargantuan cupboards (from floor to ceiling) beeming with a massive collection of 5900 books and guests having access to many of them. 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.
- Musical sessions
The evening sees local Qawwali singers entertaining the guests while the mornings are treated by the subtle tunes of Veena and flute.
- Peacock feeding
Flocks of peacocks have made Falaknuma Palace their home and every morning and evening guests can feed the peacocks and be visually treated to peacocks dancing with their gorgeously displayed plumage.
Be it the sheer grandiose or the luxury or the impeccable service or the upbeat hospitality or the jaw-dropping interiors or the tongue-ticking food, Taj Falaknuma Palace is an unmissable experience of a lifetime.
History of Taj Falaknuma Palace-
The Falaknuma Palace is a historic palace renovated into a new luxury hotel in Hyderabad, Telangana state, India in 2010. The palace has been leased by the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces of the Tata Group to be operated as the five-star Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel. Sprawling over 32-acres, the palace is built on a 2,000ft hillock and provides good views of the city’s popular landmarks- the Charminar, Golconda Fort, etc.
The palace was built from March 1884 to 1893 by the Paigah noble Sir Nawab Viqar Ul-Umra, then prime minister of the Hyderabad State. It was purchased by the VI Nizam Mir Mahboob Ali Khan during 1897 for use as a royal guest house. It served special guests of the Nizam and dignitaries and nobility including the King and Queen of England, King George V and Nicholas II, the last Russian Tsar, and Governor-General of India. The Falaknuma Palace underwent refurbishment and restoration from 2000 to 2010 for its conversion into a hotel. The heritage hotel was opened with 60 rooms on 1 November 2010. Taj is known for its marvellous hospitality across the globe which is aptly reflected in Taj Falaknuma Palace where history of Nizams exists amidst contemporary surroundings and architecture. What makes Taj Falaknuma Palace special is the rich experiential hospitality at every step of the guests living in the hotel.