Looking up at these ornate gas lamps in front of Telangana’s top luxury palace hotel, Taj Falaknuma Palace, the gal wonders how our dinner will be illuminated – we are to dine outside, on a terrace. (Ah, you might say, Telangana, what is that? It is a new 44,340 square mile State, the 29th, formed of the former northwest part of the massive Andhra Pradesh, and under Telangana’s Chief Minister, Chandrashekar Rao.) Falaknuma has two fabulous permanent restaurants, offering Italian or Indian-Asian cuisine, but this is a place for creativity.
And that creativity is led by the hotel’s GM, Girish Sehgal, who is always full of surprises. He found a nearly invisible net to cover a two-floor high, tennis-court sized inner courtyard so there are none of the annoying, and noisy, birds you find in so many places in India. Outside my room, ‘welcome home’ was written out, in marigold petals. My bathtub was filled with deep red rose petals, and there are clear instructions, on a ribbon-wrapped scroll, telling me how to turn the contents of a silver pot of Multani Mitti, lime-rich clay power from Multan, into a face pack.
His creativity extended through to dinner. First we called in to hear the Sufi musicians, and a few minutes were just ideal. Then, with Mrs Sehgal, an English Lit specialist who met Mr S when both were in grade school back in the Lower Himalayas, we were escorted about a hundred yards between nightlights to a table-for-three, surrounded by trees with dozens of eight-feet long floral fronds hanging like elongated cats’ tales. Next visit, I am told, I should take a cooking lesson, or go on a wedding shopping exercise – see if I can buy all necessities, in Hyderabad shops, for the bride and groom.
A blonde woman from Colombia played a saxophone all dinner long. This entire luxury hotel is one big international casserole, I thought. I ate Italian, carpaccio with herbs and parmesan, vegetarian tagliatelle and we drank a Marchesi de Frescobaldi Pater Sangiovese Toscana IGT (a non-vintage blend). After such an action-packed day, I pretend I am a Nizam and head back to suite 203. In the morning, just after the sun rises, I get my final view of the beautiful Palace building, and the Jaguar continues on to the airport.