Palaces in India
Falaknuma Palace information
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Falaknuma Palace

Falaknuma is a palace in Hyderabad, Telangana, India. It belonged to the Paigah family, and was later owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad. It is on a 32-acre (13 ha) area in Falaknuma, 5 km from Charminar. It was built by Nawab Sir Vikhar-ul-Umra - Prime Minister of Hyderabad and the uncle & brother-in-law of the sixth Nizam. Falak-numa means "Like the Sky" or "Mirror of the Sky" in Urdu. An English architect designed the palace. The foundation stone for the construction was laid by Sir Vicar on 3 March 1884; he was the maternal grandson of Mir Akbar Ali Khan Sikander Jah, Asaf Jah III of Hyderabad. It took nine years to complete the construction and furnish the palace. Sir Vicar moved into the Gol Bangla and Zanana Mahel of the Falaknuma Palace in December 1890 and closely monitored the finishing work at the Mardana portion. It is made completely with Italian marble with stained-glass windows and covers an area of 1,011,500 square feet. The palace was built in the shape of a scorpion with two stings spread out as wings in the north. The middle part is occupied by the main building and the kitchen, Gol Bangla, Zenana Mehal, and harem quarters stretch to the south. The Nawab was an avid traveler, and his influences show in the architecture, which combines Italian and Tudor influences. Viqar-ul-Umra, the Prime Minister of Hyderabad, used the palace as his private residence until the palace was handed over to the 6th Nizam of Hyderabad around 1897–1898. His monogram is on the furniture, walls and ceiling of the palace. The palace was built and furnished at a cost of forty lakh rupees, which necessitated borrowing money from the Bank of Bengal. In the spring of 1897, the sixth Nizam Mir Mahbub Ali Khan was invited to the palace and extended his stay to a week, a fortnight, and then a month, which prompted Sir Viqar to offer it to him. The Nizam accepted but paid some of the value of the palace; the Paigah family maintains that around 20 lakh rupees was paid. The Nizam used the palace as a guest house for the royal guests visiting the kingdom of Hyderabad. The list of royal visitors included King George V, Queen Mary, Edward VIII and Tsar Nicholas II. The palace fell into disuse after the 1950's. The last important guest was the President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, in 1951. The palace was then restored after being leased by the Taj Group of Hotels; the restoration, which began in 2010, was managed by Princess Esra, the first wife of Mukarram Jah. One of the highlights of the palace is the state reception room, where the ceiling is decorated with frescoes. The ballroom contains a two-ton manually operated organ said to be the only one of its kind in the world. The palace has 60 rooms and 22 halls. It has considerable collections of the Nizam's artefacts including paintings, statues, furniture, manuscripts, books, an extensive jade collection, and Venetian chandeliers. It has a library with a carved walnut roof, a replica of the one at Windsor Castle; it had an extensive collection of Qurans. The dining hall can seat 101 guests. The chairs are made of carved rosewood with green leather upholstery. Burroughs and Watts from England designed two identical billiards tables, one of which is in Buckingham Palace and the other in the palace's billiards room. The palace was the private property of the Nizam family, and not normally open to the public, until 2000. In 2010, Taj Hotels started renovating and restoring the palace. The renovated hotel was opened in November 2010.

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