The Falaknuma Palace is a historic palace renovated into a new luxury hotel in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh state, India.
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.
The Falaknuma Palace (meaning the Mirror of the Sky) is one of the ancient palaces in Hyderabad. It sprawls over 32-acres and has an area of 19,400m². The palace is built on a 2,000ft hillock and provides good views of the Charminar, minarets and domes in Hyderabad.
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 has been passed on for generations and was occasionally opened to the public.
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.
Falaknuma Palace underwent sensitive 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.
Falaknuma Palace design
The Falaknuma Palace was designed in western architecture by the Italian architect William Ward Marret.
The palace reflects a rare blend of Tudor and Italian architecture and was built entirely from Italian marble. It has the shape of a scorpion, the zodiac sign of the Nizam.
The main building is located at the centre, while two stings of the palace spread out as wings on the north. The kitchen and the harem quarters are located towards the south. The palace entrance exhibits some old artillery models and ornate fountains.
The palace has 220 rooms and 22 halls and a private wing for the hotel. The first phase of renovation preserves the inherent history of the palace with a magnificent 101-seat dining room and the original Nizam suite.
The heritage hotel also retains its original Japanese, Rajasthani and Mughal gardens created by the Nizam. It was the first palace in India to have refrigerators, petrol pumps for vintage car fuelling, a musical organ and one of the largest telephone and electrical systems.
The Falaknuma Palace is built with many types of wood, 10 types of leather and 32 kinds of Italian marble.
It has a Louis XIV-style décor and a Mughal influence with ivory figurines and statues. The heritage hotel boasts of a rare collection of treasures, green leather upholstered rosewood furniture and paintings compiled by the Nizam.
The western architectural style interiors are lavishly decorated with Italian marble. The hotel has the most unique Jade collection in the world, estimated to be worth $120m. The ballroom is equipped with a manually operated 2t organ.
The Marble Hall is one of the main attractions of the Taj Falaknuma Palace. The palace also has a library in a walnut carved roof with a collection of 6,000 valuable manuscripts and books.
The hotel houses 40 large Venetian chandeliers in the halls. The dining hall tableware is of crystal and gold. The stained glass windows of the palace allow a spectrum of colours into the interiors.
The Italian marble cantilevered staircase in the main building leading to the upper floor features the portraits of British governor generals. It is supported by carved balustrades with candelabra at intervals.
The state reception ceiling is decorated with murals framed in gilded relief.
The hand-crafted French tapestries, frescos and carved ceilings have Indian and English influences.
The palace has been refurbished with modern luxuries in the first phase.
The 10-year sensitive restoration works on the palace included refurbishment of the Venetian chandeliers and replication of the metallic copper yarn chatoyant tapestries, art and artefacts.
The first phase of the refurbishment for 60 suites and guest rooms was completed under the supervision of Princess Esra, the first wife of the last Nizam Mukarram Jah.
Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo (WATG) were contracted for the interior design, architectural aspects of back-of-house areas and the guestrooms.
Taj Falaknuma Palace facilities
The former royal family and state rooms serve the heritage hotel as suites and guest rooms. The Taj Falaknuma Palace offers the palace library, heritage walks, champagne, meeting facilities and bespoke tailoring to its guests.
The banquet and recreational facilities include the 101-seat dining hall, two restaurants, the 2,000ft² Durbar Hall, the Jade Room, a 17-seat Board Room with the latest communication equipment, various gardens and terraces, an outdoor pool and catering services.