Ultimate Indulgences

Rahul Mehrotra


Late Tudor style architecture merging with elements of Italian Gothic design, an unforgettable treat for the senses, and a chance to relive a magical period in history – all that the guests can expect on a visit to the Falaknuma Palace, now a Taj Hotel property.

Leased to the Taj Group in 1995, the Falaknuma Palace restoration work has been sensitively overseen by the royal family members and continues to attract lovers of the good life to it. 

Ten years, a coterie of specialist artisans, architects, interior decorators, landscape and restoration experts with infinite imagination, gumption and vision helped realise the lofty dream.

Situated nearly 2,000 ft. above Hyderabad, the rich cultural reserves and sensual symbolism of this “mirror to the sky” (built to reflect the clouds) justifies the waiting period for the best-kept royal indulgence of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Rahul Mehrotra and Associates carried out the conservation survey of the Palace according to a succinct design brief: “Restore the Main Palace, retain the opulence, and enhance the grandeur!”

This was achieved by creating the finishes, furniture and equipment in a way that these closely resembled the originals contained in the interiors of the Palace.

So, what once was the sole preserve of royalty still maintains its opulence, revelry and dignity with its world-class collection of objects d’art, stained-glass windows, Mughal, Rajasthani and Japanese gardens personally conceived by the Nizam.

To recreate this “palace with past glory” project, Taj Hotels Resorts Palaces got WATG - Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo, a design consultancy with 60 years of experience in revamping images for the hospitality and entertainment industry - on board.

Bali-based landscape consultancy firm, P.T. Wijaya, famous for designing breathtaking interiors, stunning courtyards and magical pools, was roped in to restore the landscapes and enhance the exterior lighting designs of the Palace. Made Wijaya, a celebrated tropical garden designer with more than 600 exclusive garden designs to his credit in exotic destinations such as Morocco, Hawaii, Palo Alto, Belize, Malaysia and Spain, added another designer touch.

Princess Esra, who took a keen personal interest in the restoration project of the Palace, requested cousin, Ruya Mocan, to ensure the soft and hard finishes for all the Palace rooms and to see that the Zenana Suites had just the right touch of royalty. The entire range of new fabrics, upholstery, furniture and finishes was sourced from Turkey.

Nick Poynton, Chief Architecture Consultant from WATG, used the existing colonnade, tied in the arch founding as well as the external section facing the city, and created a resonance of the original building in the classic Palladian look this integration achieved.

Similarly, the rich leather upholstery (engraved or embossed) and velvet tapestry were redone to reflect their place in history amid the re-fittings of the finest marble and Burma teak ornamentation, as in the Durbar Hall.

The palace library, an exact replica of the book house at Windsor Castle, is a bibliophile’s delight with its rare collections, including the most acclaimed sets of the Holy Quran in the country, hand-picked by the Nizam during his journeys to far-off lands.

The billiards room is every bit as opulent as the fine-dining room (rightly rumoured to contain the world's longest dining table). The marble staircases are as fascinatingly filmy as the hookah lounge, the theme restaurants and the al fresco cocktail supper arrangements under the Gol Bungalow stained-glass ambience.

The Nizam’s bedroom, study and the office where he conducted his state affairs, and the card and hookah rooms boast the finest quality furniture and upholstery made of camel skin, with intricate carvings of over 10,000 designs of animal figures across every square inch!