Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hyderabad City Tour - Nizam's Museum, Salarjung Museum, Chow Mohalla

Boarding a green bus that looked like a caterpillar (along with antennas), we began our city tour. As usual, I was the only non-Indian. One of the first places we visited was Nizam’s Museum, a sprawling 19th century Neo-Classical complex of buildings once the main residence of the 6th Nizam (ruler). The exterior of the buildings were in need of restoration. Herded to the far end of the main building, we then went inside where we saw the Nizam’s gigantic wooden wardrobe – a 73 square meter (786 sq feet) room with two levels of closets and a mechanical elevator. In addition to the large wardrobe collection, silver objects (many of buildings and maps given to the Nizam for the silver jubilee), china, and photos were displayed.

We also toured the Salarjung Museum, which contained an eclectic collection of over 40,000 objects once belonging to Hyderabad’s Prime Minister (1899-1949). Some of the items were quite beautiful (and likely expensive), while other items bordered on being kitsch. In a large open room, people sat in rows of seats, waiting for a clock to chime the hour and display its animation. I particularly liked some of the marble sculptures (European), Indian bronze sculptures, and miniature paintings such as those I saw in Udaipur. Once again we were not given enough time to truly see and appreciate the massive collection.

Moving onward, we visited the Chow Mohalla Palace. Designed in a mixture of Mogul and European style, the palace was built in several phases between 1750 and 1869. A beautiful garden surrounds the complex. In one section, a large pool reflects the classical style yellow building. Fountains spout in other areas. The Durbar Hall was particularly beautiful, with its huge glass chandeliers imported from Belgium, tall ceiling, white marble floors, columns, and walls also containing white and golden marble, topped with decorative flourishes. The Chow Mohalla Palace gives people an idea of the opulence once enjoyed by the Nizams.

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