It’s a national holiday in India today. Republic Day celebrates the adoption of a new Indian constitution on 26th January, 1950. Every day, however, seems like the best holiday in the world when you arrive at FALAKNUMA PALACE, just outside Hyderabad, by glorious carriage, as above. Falaknuma is owned by Turkish Princess Esra Jah and Taj has a long lease on it.
Princess Esra was first of the five wives of His Exalted Highness Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamaluk, Asaf Jah VIII, Muzaffar ul-Mamaluk, Nizam ul-Mulk, Nizam ud-Daula, Nawab Mir Barakat ‘Ali Khan Bahadur, Sipah Salar, Fath Jang, Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar, Honorable Lieutenant-General, Faithful Ally of the British Government. Like everyone in his family, he had a varied life, ranging from Harrow and Sandhurst through to sheep-farming in Western Australia. He died in Istanbul last Saturday, aged 90 – his heir, to titles that are now merely titular, is Princess Esra’s son, a photographer.
Tales abound of the photographer’s great-grandfather using a diamond the size of the koh-i-noor as a paperweight. What is fact, today, is that the 60-room palace has endless stories to tell. Here is the world’s longest dining table, seating 101 on seven joined pieces of oak to give a total length of 108 ft, with perfect sound from one end to the other. Here is the world’s first-ever telephone exchange, There’s the library, with 5,900 books, and so on, and so forth.
There are 32 acres of hillside and gardens to explore, and a spa with hammam, and afternoon tea on pink and white china, with five delicate Belgian chandeliers overhead.
Girlahead wonders if the late Nizam ever remembered what he once had when he he was sheep-shearing in Australia – which, by the way, also has a holiday today. Happy Australia Day!