India – History and Society – for those who wish to think and learn for themselves
Once upon a time, the Nizams of Hyderabad were amongst the wealthies of kings. The Seventh Nizam of Hyderabad was the wealthiest man in the world in the 1930s. Following India’s independence from the British Empire in 1947, the state of Hyderabad even attempted to retain its independence. This had tragic consequences, with the futile attempt of the Hyderabad army and people’s resistance (the Razakars) failing miserably to fend off the Indian army in 1948. The state of Hyderabad was integrated into India. The Nizam was humbled. For 19 more years he led a quiet but still extravagant life. When he died in 1967, he still had a staff of over 10,000 individuals. This was unsustainable. Morever, the Indian government took away the privileges of the Indian kings and princes. Plenty of money was being spent, but none was being earned. The family racked up huge debts.
After the passing away of the Nizam, his son moved to Australia to work on a farm. The many palaces of the Nizam in Hyderabad were locked up and shutters came down on all their contents. Some of the many treasures were either stolen or spirited away by the staff and government officials. Over the next 30 to 40 years, the palaces became virtual ruins and their contents crumbled away or became piles of scrap and rust.
Remarkably, Princess Esra, the Turkish born ex-wife of the Nizam’s heir, returned with the aim of restoring some of the palaces and treasures of the Nizam.
The true jewel, the Falaknuma Palace has recently been restored with investment from the Taj Group of Hotels. It is a remarkable building, built by the Nizam’s chief minister of the Paigah family in the late nineteenth century. The then Nizam coveted it so much, that he bought it off the Paigah. The Taj Falanuma is now one of the grandest hotels in India.
Here are a few articles on the palaces:
Here is an article on the Nizam’s collection of diamonds and jewels
Here is the obituary of Princess Durrushevar, the daughter of the last Caliph and Princess of Berar in Hyderabad