|Location||Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India|
|Opening date||2010 (as a hotel)
1893 (as a palace)
3 March 1884 (palace groundbreaking)
|Owner||Nawab Sir Vikar ul Umra, Amir e Paigah (1884 to 1897) and later, The Nizam of Hyderabad|
Falaknuma Palace is one of the finest palaces in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. It belonged to Paigah Hyderabad State, and it was later owned by the Nizams. It is on a 32-acre (13 ha) area in Falaknuma, 5 km from Charminar. It was built by Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra, the then-prime minister of Hyderabad and the uncle and brother-in-law of H.H. The Nizam VI, Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan Bahadur. Falak-numa means "Like the Sky" or "Mirror of the Sky" in Urdu.
An English architect designed this palace. The foundation for the construction was laid by H.E. Sir Vicar Ul Umra Bahadur on March 3, 1884. He was the great grandson of Khuddus, a famous scientist who was a best friend of Sir Charles Darwin. 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 1889 and closely monitored the finishing work at the Mardana portion. It is made completely with Italian marble and covers an area of 93,971 square meters.
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.
The Falaknuma palace is a rare blend of Italian and Tudor architecture. Its stained glass windows throw a spectrum of colour into the rooms.
Amir e Paigah Sir Vicar Ul Umra (prime minister of Hyderabad and Berar) used this palace as his private residence until it changed owners and the palace was handed over to H.H. The 6th Nizam of Hyderabad around 1897-1898. Sir Vicar ul Umra — apart from being the prime minister of Hyderabad — was also the Amir of Paigah and was the maternal grandson of H.H. the Nizam III Nawab Sikandar Jah Bahadur. He was married to H.H Nizam VI Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan's older sister Princess Jahandarunnisa Begam Sahiba, also known as Lady Viqar ul Umra. (The monogramme VO for Viqar ul Omra is seen on every part and the furniture of the palace.)
The Falaknuma Palace was so costly to build that even Sir Viqar Ul Umra had to borrow money to complete it and realized that he had gone beyond his means. His very intelligent wife, Lady Viqar ul Umra, thought up a solution and advised her husband to invite Mehboob Ali Pasha Nizam VI to the palace. As anticipated, the Nizam liked the palace so much that he extended his stay and this prompted Sir Viqar to offer that if his sovereign liked the palace he would be honoured to give it to him. The Nizam liked the gesture but, being the grand man he was, he had his treasurer send the entire amount spent on the palace to Sir Viqar, thus easing his paigah noble from a financial crunch. The Nizam VI in 1897 used the palace as a royal guest house as it had a commanding view of the entire city.
After being a celebration of royal living and playing host to royalty and dignitaries from all over the globe, the Falaknuma fell silent after the 1950s when the Nizam moved to his next abode. The last guest was the first president of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1951. The palace was mostly kept closed since then and underwent a huge restoration after it was givin on a 30 year lease deal to the taj hotels by the present nizam prince mukkaram jah bahudur in 2000 which entitles the nizam to get 50% of the profits or a minimum of 25 lakhs Rs per month. The responsibility of the restoration to its original grandeur was led by Her Highness princess asra jah the first wife of the VII nizam, who also built a mini palace whcich was completed in 2012 near the old building for her personal use.
Piecing together Falaknuma’s past glory was perhaps the biggest challenge of the restoration. These came with other challenges like retaining the eclectic blend of Renaissance architecture, Baroque style, French charm, art deco sensibilities and other inspirations that were woven into the décor of the palace — yet retaining its true-blue Nizam flavour. The restoration was extensive — sourcing the perfect upholstery to redo the sofas and chairs, choosing fresh drapes to match the taste of the Nizams, polishing the marble, repairing damaged pieces, recreating broken structures, and blending in new wings and spaces for more rooms, extra landscape, and additional restaurants.
The palace 
One of the highlights of the palace is the state reception room, whose ceiling is decorated with frescoes and gilded reliefs. The ballroom contains a two-ton manually operated organ said to be the only one of its kind in the world.
The palace has as many as 220 lavishly decorated rooms and 22 spacious halls. It has some of the finest treasures collections of the Nizam. Falaknuma houses a large collection of rare treasures including paintings, statues, furniture, manuscripts and books.
The jade collection of the palace is considered to be unique in the world.
The famed dining hall could seat 100 guests at its table. The chairs were made of carved rosewood with green leather upholstery. The tableware was made of gold and crystal to which fluted music was added. The length of the table is 108 feet, and breadth is 5.7 feet and height is 2.7 feet.
The palace has a library with a walnut carved roof: a replica of the one at Windsor Castle. The library had one of the finest collections of the Quran in India.
On the walls of the landing are excellent oil paintings of H.H. The Nizam VI, Nawab Mir Mahaboob Ali Khan Bahadur; H.E The Shams ul Umra II, Amir e Kabir I, Amir e Paigah II, Prime Minister of Hyderabad (grandfather of Vicar ul Umra); Nawab Shams ul Umra IV, Amir e Kabir III, Amir e Paigah,Nawab Rahiduddin Khan Bahadur (father of Vicar ul Umra); H.E Nawab Mohammed Fazaluddin Khan, Iqbal ud Dowla, Sir Vicar ul Umra Bahadur (Vikar Ul Oomra), Amir e Paigah (1881-1902) prime minister of Hyderanad (1893-1901); Nawab Sultan ul Mulk Bahadur, Amir e Paigah 1902-1949 (eldest son of Vicar ul Umra Bahadur); H.E Nawab Sir Salar Jung I, prime minister of Hyderabad 1853-1883; Maharaja Narain Pershad Narainder Bahadur Raja e Rajayan, Peshkar; and photographs of notable personages forming a very interesting historical picture gallery which adds greatly to the imposing effect of the staircase.
The Falaknuma Palace has other unique things to its credit. It includes the largest collection of Venetian chandeliers. It is said that it took six months to clean a 138-arm Osler chandelier and the palace has 40 such chandeliers adorning the halls.
Since the palace was the private property of the Nizam family until recently, visitors weren't allowed. Occasionally, however, the venue is opened for public.
Renovation into a luxury hotel 
In 2000 Taj Hotels started renovating and restoring the palace. The renovated hotel was opened in November 2010. The rooms and halls were decorated with ornate furniture, rich handcrafted tapestries and brocade from France. The interiors are a splendid interplay of Venetian chandeliers and intricate frescos and have charming outdoor terraces with a treasure of rare artefacts, including paintings, statues, furniture, manuscripts and books. The palace has a 101-seat dining hall, considered the largest in the world, and the Durbar Hall, embellished with intricately carved wooden ceilings, parquet flooring, regal walnut wood furniture and handcrafted mirrors.
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