More palaces of Nizams thrown open to tourists
Feb 22, 2007 - 6:14:31 PM

Hyderabad, Feb 22 - Two years after commoners were allowed a peek into Chowmohalla Palace, the seat of the nizams of Hyderabad, more palaces in the sprawling complex were Thursday thrown open to people, providing a rare glimpse into the royal lifestyle of the rulers of the former princely state.

The restored palaces and galleries showcasing the personal belongings of the nizams, the splendid collection of costumes of royal ladies and other rare artefacts have added to the charm of Chowmohalla, located near the historic Charminar.

Chowmohalla now offers new galleries including Taihniyat Mahal, once used by the nizams for official receptions, Mehtab Mahal, which has a series of rooms recreating royal ambience with restored furniture, Aslah Khana with its extraordinary collection of armoury and the Afzal Mahal that was used for banquets and receptions.

The palaces were revived after painstaking work by a team of conservationists, historians and restorers. The exhibits include a gold-threaded 'jhoola' that was once draped over the royal elephant of Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Khan, the richest man of his time.

Also on display are his personal living room, dining room, rest rooms and recreational rooms, his stationery and vintage typewriter with an Urdu keyboard.

Siddharth Ghosh, a member of the restoration team, said they had renovated many artefacts and simulated the living quarters on the basis of information provided by family members, written material and photographs.

Special exhibitions have been opened at the renovated galleries. An exhibition titled 'Tamanna' at Mahtab Mahal showcases the splendour of royal women and their lifestyle. Costumes made of finest textiles including saris and salwar kameezes with gold and silver zari work are on display.

The exhibition also has mannequins depicting the luxurious life of royal women and the rich style of celebrating events like weddings or the birth of a child.

Another exhibition titled 'Saltant-e-Asafia' at Aftab Mahal displays rare photographs of the seven rulers of the Asaf Jahi dynasty -. It also has artefacts including flags of the times and stationery used by the last nizam.

The restoration work was initiated five years back by Esra, former wife of Prince Mukarram Jah, the grandson of the last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan. It was headed by textile guru Martand Singh and involved experts from the fields of architecture, textiles, documentation and photography.

They spent several months at the palace to collect scattered artefacts and arrange them in the right order in the restored palaces. The project is still on and is estimated to cost $1.37 million.

'The restoration work and exhibitions will give the future generations a fair idea of the life of the nizams,' said G. Kishan Rao, director of the Chowmahalla Palace complex. According to him around 600 tourists, including 40-odd foreigners visit the palace every day.

Once spread over 45 acres with sprawling gardens and open spaces, the palaces have been left with only 12 acres due to encroachments.

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