India – Part 3 – Hyderabad
HYDERABAD, and the TAJ FALAKNUMA PALACE*****
I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see and experience the Falaknuma Palace again! What a dream come true. I felt like the Princess of Hyderabad for a couple of days. The feeling of exclusivity is incredible.
The palace overlooks the city of Hyderabad, offering incredible views and sounds. Hyderabad’s Muslim influence is very strong and you can hear the call to prayer regularly. It is not as strong as it can be in Istanbul, but more subtle.
This historical Taj Palace is a destination on its own. What makes it unique and so interesting is the extreme restoration work that took place to bring this palace back to life. For example, upon arrival, a 100-year old carriage takes you up to the main palace building. The art work is phenomenal; the library is a replica of the one at Windsor Castle and home of some of the rarest manuscripts. The Taj group was leased this property by the Royal Family of Hyderabad and now offers to their guests the opportunity to experience the NIZAM’s hospitality. Its history is rich and complicated, full of drama and colors that makes it even more attractive and hypnotizing. The Palace is built in the shape of the Scorpio, the zodiac sign of its commissioner Sir Nawab Vikar-Ul Umra. Although equipped with all modern amenities, the Palace is also a living museum.
The property is huge! It is set on 32-acres of land. 60 spacious rooms and suites on property, each one is different, to fit the unlimited and ultimate expectations of its guests. Bathrooms are super large, separate showers, bathtub, 2 sinks, and 2 closet areas, one for the man and one for the woman. The JIVA spa is fantastic, the pool is great. Restaurants are so luxurious (Versace plates) and food is excellent.
Banyan Tours organized for us to visit the Chowmahalla Palace, and an old-fashioned textile factory where natural dyes and natural fabrics are used to create hand-made linens and clothes. Women are still hand-weaving everything. Some outfits (like a wedding costume for example) can take over a year to be finished and can cost over $50,000. What a labor! This visit was the highlights of my stay in Hyderabad.
Other attractions in Hyderabad are the Golconda Fort, the Mecca Masjid and the Charminar. The old city is perfect for bangles and spices shopping as well. Some of us also bought precious pearls and jewelry.
While in Hyderabad we also visited the Taj KRISHNA Hotel, located in the business district of Hyderabad, and which used to be an Oberoi property. It is also a very nice luxury property, large rooms, and a useful club floor.
As a travel professional, I am coming back home having known the most perfect service I’ve ever experienced in my life.
The strict British influence mixed with the kindness and humble attention of the India natives is unique and unbeatable. Add this to a magic environment of Palaces, Maharadjas, gold & spices and you’ve got a super recipe for luxury travel.
One doesn’t travel all the way to India to lie down on a beach and enjoy some Farniente. India is a country rich in culture and history. Its people, gastronomy, sceneries are what makes this country so unique. Often natives have asked me to look at India with an “open mind”. It is so true.So forget about your habits, your materialist life, and completely allow yourself to “disconnect”. Isn’t it what a vacation really is about? India can really do that for you – take you away from it all, and bring you back regenerated, relaxed, your body and mind full of wonderful memories to share.