Monday, March 14, 2016

Hanging out in Hyderabad - Lunch at the Falaknuma Palace

Last year our friends Jan and Paul came to stay - and after 10 weeks of touring around southern India they announced that Hyderabad was their favourite place of all - it was quite a surprise to me - until I went to the Falaknuma Palace (where they stayed) and could see why.

The palace was at one time owned by the Nizams of Hyderabad.   It was built by one of the Prime Ministers and the name Falak-numa means "like the sky" or "mirror of the sky" in Urdu.  The palace is built in the shape of a scorpion, with 2 wings (representing the stings) extending out from the main part.  It's difficult to see them in this photo as they are on the sides and I couldn't get far back enough to photograph the whole building.  The architecture is a blend of Italian and Tudor.

We phoned ahead to book for lunch, but even so it was difficult.  We were told they did not take "walk-ins" and that they were fully booked.  However during the whole time there we only saw one other couple in the dining room!  It really is a beautiful place though!

The photo above is not of the palace - it's the gateway into the palace.  From here you have to take either a golf cart of a horse-drawn carriage up to the actual palace.  

The palace must have hosted many important guests during its history, however since the 1950s it was mostly kept closed until around 2000 when it was given on lease to the Taj group of hotels who undertook a 10 year restoration programme to restore it to its original grandeur.  The restoration was led by Princess Esra Jah, the first wife of the 8th Nizam of Hyderabad whom he apparently divorced when she did not want to move to Australia with him.

The palace is really amazing and has a famous dining room (not the one we used) with a huge table that can seat 100 guests - it's considered the largest in the world. There is also a library which is a replica of the one in Windsor Castle.

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