Adab! Yes, that’s how they greet anyone and everyone they meet right from the main gates of this grand Palace. The Falaknuma Palace is one of the finest palaces in India. It was owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad. Falak-numa, in Urdu, means “mirroring the sky”, and thus the story that the princess got the exterior painted more than a 100 times so that it matches the color of the sky at dusk. It took nine long years to construct the palace in the 1880’s, and it took ten years to renovate and restore the palace. The Taj group had taken charge of converting the royal palace into a luxury hotel, and it started operations in 2010. Relatively new amongst the other royal palaces that the Taj Group owns and runs (the Lake Palace in Udaipur , the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, and the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur), the hotel has become popular as a wedding destination as well as a royal indulgence.
Hyderabad had never been a part of my “to go” list, and it skyrocketed as travel destination when heard about the Falaknuma Palace. I have some cool reasons for you to visit the Falaknuma Palace, and also the Indian Silicon Valley – Hyderabad.
Why to visit the Falaknuma?
Rich and Interesting history of the city
Hyderabad was the largest and most prosperous of all princely states in India. The Nizams of Hyderabad had one of the most illustrious rule in India, so much so that even after the Indian independence in 1947, Hyderabad stayed defiant as an independent state until Sept 1948. Seven generations of Asaf Ali Khan’s family ruled the state and 7th Nizam was the richest man in the world in his times and also featured on the cover of the Time magazine. All such stories and more will come to you once you are in the old part of the city. Falaknuma houses a large collection of rare treasures including paintings, statues, furniture, manuscripts and books of the Nizams. The jade collection is unique in the world. The current Nizam lives in Turkey, and gifted this palace to his second wife when he divorced her.
'The Jade Room'
Arrival and Traditional Welcome
The royalty begins right at the Airport when the well-maintained car and a courteous driver greets you for pick-up. The 40 minute drive to the palace was full of General Knowledge about the city. Once you are at the gates, a horse-driven chariot is waiting for you to take you up the hill to the main entrance. My little daughter was amazed to take the ride every time we went out of the palace, and she kept choosing between the white and the black horses. They offer you the lovely welcome drinks, followed by the floral shower, applying of the Indian ‘Tilak’ and spraying of scented water as in the ancient times. Check-in happens in the luxury of your room. Not to forget, `it was lovely of the hotel staff to upgrade our room to the next category.
Historical walk of the Palace
Every evening the in-house historian takes you for a walk around the Palace, highlighting the way the Nizams lived. The Palace has some of the finest collections of the Nizam treasure. The large Venetian chandeliers, rare furniture, grand marble staircases and gurgling fountains, priceless statues, and objects’ d’art, stained-glass windows, unique sketches and murals encased in ornate frames, a world-class collection of crystal as well as the Mughal, Rajasthani and Japanese gardens personally conceived by the Nizam are all worth admiring. Also while you are still enjoying the entertaining stories, the hotel team obligingly cracks open a bottle of champagne, and pour you a glass to walk around with.
Luxury of the rooms
The accommodation is ought to be classy and comforting of this grand Palace. I stayed at the Akbar Suite, and it had a beautiful living area, dining table and a washroom with all modern facilities. You can have a look at the pictures.
The Taj group is known for its hospitality, and when it comes to the Palaces it becomes all the more royal. The drivers were very knowledgeable, adjusting and soft-spoken. The front desk was keen to take any queries, and upgraded our rooms by themselves. They had made a big arrangement for birthday celebration which was awesome! The in-room dining guys were accommodating to get anything we ordered for the baby and were ready to change whenever requested. The pool staff inflated my baby’s big swimming tube with their mouth which was really a difficult task to do. My room had all the baby amenities set up like the cot, sterilizer, toiletries, bath toys, bath tub and even the pot sheet!
Jiva Spa is world renowned and this palace is a perfect place to relax and indulge in one of the signature treatments. The Fitness center, Swimming pool, and Steam room are good enough to keep you busy during a part of your stay.
The Palace has 6 dining options. Breakfast at Adda is sumptuous with innumerable a la carte options. Don’t forget to talk to the chef a day before if you have some special dietary requirements. They will happily prepare anything for you even out of their menu. The afternoon tea at the Jade Room, a relaxing session at the Hookah lounge, the poolside bar, Celeste the Italian restaurant, all offer you a wide choice of culinary delights.
"The Poolside Bar"
The soulful sufi music, the scented aroma, and the views of the illuminated city from the balcony at dusk was a memorable experience. We loved it!
I happened to visit the city during the auspicious month of Ramadan. The markets were busy, city was lighted, eateries were busy, in short the city was full of life! Since 60 percent of the population follows Islam, the festival is celebrated with pomp and show. The old city of Hyderabad came alive and a festive atmosphere prevailed.
Shopping is not the best thing to do in these crowded days. But when you are there in the city try your hand on some of the beautiful bangles and pearl accessories. Also pick some of the products from the most famous Karachi Bakery. It boasts of the highest counter sales in the city and also has a small store at the airport. The greetings from the hotel staff, combined with a wonderful stay experience is what we got with us.
Some Quick Facts
* Rack rates at Taj Falaknuma Palace begin at 24,500 INR but I would prefer one of the packages offered.
* The hotel can arrange for a local tour guide to take you to the nearby Chowmahalla Palace (built in 1720) and some other museums. The highlight of our tour was finishing at the Laad Bazaar where you can buy stone set bangles, which come from here.
Note: The featured image is from the Hotel Website.