Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ahilya Fort in Madhya Pradesh India

You can see why I am inspired to return, it is a picture at every corner.
There is a woman behind this architecture too!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To Celebrate a India?

We are thinking a family get together in India may do the trick to celebrate darling daughter #3's nuptials with the family.

Ahilya Fort may be the perfect spot.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Almost another month without a post...time simply flies!

Just a quick one here...darling daughter #3 married this past weekend in Korea....
a fun pic by her bro....they are crazy, crazy, madly, madly.....a good start!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Saved by A Princess - Falaknuma and Chowmahalla

This clip is the most concise in a short form story of the last and present owner of the Falaknuma
and Chowmahalla Palaces I have been rambling on about for the last month or is hard to believe!

I have read a number of articles online trying to discover more about the last Nizam's first wife Princess Esra. Originally from Turkey she trained as an architect and married Mukarram Jah in 1956.  It is Princess Esra who is responsible for saving these two fabulous palaces. Married for 15 years to the Nizam before the burden of inheriting from his grandfather the welfare of over 14,792 relatives, including 42 elderly concubines and 100's of illegitimate children, staff and retainers sent him off to Australia sheep farming!

According to one article after meeting her ex husband 30 years later and finding the Eighth Nizam in very ill health, after his 4 additional marriages, Princess Esra stepped into the mess of 54 trusts contested by over 2700 relatives and a fortune looted by corrupt advisors and taxes to save and restore what was left. Her ally in sorting the chaos out in 1996 was the brilliant and honorable lawyer Mukarram Jah Vijay Shankardass, this task apparently included risking his own life in the process.

William Dalrymple author of The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 writes while researching in 1997 in Hyderabad and seeing my particular favorite Falaknuma Palace - 
'the huge Victorian pile of the Falaknuma Palace, just to the south of the city. The complex, which stood above the town on its own acropolis, was falling into ruin, with every window and doorway sealed by red wax. Wiping the windows, I could see cobwebs the size of bedsheets hanging from the corners of the rooms. The skeletons of outsized Victorian sofas and armchairs lay dotted around the parquet floors, their chintz upholstery eaten away by white ants. Outside, the gardens had given way to scrub flats, waterless fountains, and paint-flaking flagpoles at crazy angles. It was a truly melancholy sight: a derelict Ruritania.' 

Returning in 2001  to Hyderabad Mr Dalrymple was privileged to meet Princess Esra and accompany her to Chowmahalla Palace. In the same article in the Guardian he describes this visit.
'Chowmahalla, dating from 1751, was one of the finest royal residences in India. After some negotiation, I was allowed to accompany the princess on her visit, and so was there at the breaking of the seals of some rooms that had not been opened since the death of the previous Nizam in 1967.

What we saw was extraordinary, as if we were in the palace of Sleeping Beauty. In one underground storeroom, thousands of ancient scimitars, swords, helmets, maces, daggers, archery equipment and suits of armour lay rusted into a single metallic mass on a line of trestle tables. In another, album after album of around 8,000 Victorian and Edwardian photographs of the Nizam's household was covered in a thick cladding of dust. A unique set of 160 harem photographs, dating from 1915, lay loose in a box. On the walls, dynastic portraits were falling out of their frames. In one room were great mountains of princely dresses, patkas, chaugoshia and salvars, drawers of Kanchipuram silk saris, and one huge trunk containing nothing but bow ties. There were long lines of court uniforms as well as sets of harem clothes once worn by the Nizam's favourite wives. Almost 8,000 dinner services survived, one of which alone had 2,600 pieces.

In the King Kothi palace, the Nizam's dynasty's complete correspondence since the mid-18th century filled three rooms floor to ceiling. When the archivists had been sacked in 1972, the archive, all 10 and a half tonnes of it, had been stuffed into the rooms and sealed. Other rooms were stacked with crates of French champagne.
It looked an impossible task even to begin to sort out the mess and dilapidation. Yet remarkably, six years later, the Chowmahalla is now open to the public and 1,000 visitors a day are streaming through. A massive conservation project, unique in India, has restored and catalogued the best of what remains. The result is little short of incredible.'
Princess Esra's works are of a remarkable woman and the only recent picture I can find of her is at a Cartier car rally in New Delhi where her restoration of the Nizam's 1912 Rolls Royce won first place, although a beautiful job it somehow doesn't really reflect this woman's successes with the heritage of Hyderabad.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rooms and more Rooms at Chowmahalla Palace - India

The palace is still used by the family on occasion and the grounds and public rooms are available to rent
for weddings and events. There were wings of rooms for the men, wings of rooms for the ladies, wings
of rooms for attendants, drawing rooms, coronation halls and on and on....everywhere a picture and some detail of note.

This last hallway and room with chandelier is part of the harem wing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Amazing Chowmahalla Palace Hyderabad

Most of the previous chandelier and ceiling pictures were taken at the Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad. This yet another one of the Nizam's 'little spots'! Actually his main housing complex in Hyderabad and recognized as his official residence.

A wedding cake of a building complex. Construction was started in 1750 and completed between 1857 - 1867. Apprarently a replica of the Shah's Palace in Tehran, the complex stretched over 42 acres and is really a series of four palaces housing various aspects of the Nizam's household. In it's prime it required 7000 attendants! The clock in the clock tower has been ticking steadily for 250 years.