Thursday, 11 March 2010

The Royal Palaces of the Nizams of Hyderabad

Book Review
The Royal Palaces of the Nizams
Author: Dr MA Nayeem
Pages 400 of royal matt art paper; hard-bound with multi-colour jacket of thick art paper. Price Rs 2,000. Published by Hyderabad Publishers, 10-2-5/8/1, AC Guard, Hyderabad - 500004

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad. The name brings to our minds the pictures of marvelous tombs, palaces and pearls. The history of Hyderabad has been intertwined with the glory of its palaces, magnificent in nature and imposing in structure with architectural beauty without parallel.
Though some of the city palaces have disappeared with time, there still remains a few, reminding us the glory Hyderabad once was, and retelling the anecdotes buried deep in history and time.
Senior researcher, historian and author Dr MA Nayeem has been known for highlighting the little known aspects of Hyderabad of yore. His writings reflect the deep commitment he has for the history of
erstwhile Hyderabad State. If one has to know or learn the history of Hyderabad and its structure and its people, Dr Nayeem is one name, one cannot afford to ignore.
His latest venture is The Royal Palaces of the Nizams. Dr Nayeem, while analyzing the architectural and artistic marvels of Hyderabad palaces, comes out with a new nomenclature: Asaf Jah or Osmanian style
of architecture. Indeed, the Asaf Jahi style is unique in all aspects and Dr Nayeem lucidly explains them in detail.
"At the close of the 18th century the European influence percolated Hyderabad. First it was the French, and later the British.The latter had a significant and lasting impact on the architectural evolution of Asaf Jahi style. The Nizams and his nobility built lavishly in a variety of European-derived styles. The revival of the Qutb Shahi style transformed into Neo Qutb Shahi during second half of the 19th century also contributed to the stylistic development," he argues.
Dr Nayeem further dwells, subsequently, with the formation of the city improvement board in 1912 by the Nizam VII for the development of Hyderabad resulted in the construction of numerous public buildings in the new style called the Osmanian. This style is still existing in the structures all over Hyderabad. Thus, mixed architectural features are found in the royal palaces of the Nizam.
“In fact, the Khilwat Mubarak has a mysterious blend of Ottoman, Iranian, Qutb Shahi and Mughal style. The Chow Mohalla palaces are in European style. The Falaknuma palace is purely European. The Purani Haveli and Nazri Bagh are in mixed style. While King Kothi is in European style. The Mahbub Mansion is European-Mughal. The palace at Kolkata is in European style. The Nizam's palace in New Delhi is in Mughal-European style”.
Dr Nayeem’s is the first comprehensive and exclusive review about the art and architecture of the royal palaces of the Nizams. In this book he recaptures the sublime spirit of the opulent oriental life and
culture in Hyderabad, where the magnificent, lavish and exotic court of the Asaf Jahi rulers flourished from 1720 to 1948.
According to this city historian, the grandeur of oriental culture reached its zenith in the later half of the 19th century during the times of the sixth Nizam, It continued by his successor, the last Nizam, during the first half of the 20th century. These Nizams were reputedly the richest men in the world and were called fabulous Mughals.
Dr Nayeem documents his review with 500 historical photographs in multi-colour, though a few are in monochrome. “These are unique documents of not only art and architecture but also of the political,
social and cultural life and times in Hyderabad in 1591 and its physical settings”.
The book is divided into four parts, each dealing with an exclusive subject including the palaces the Nizams had built outside Hyderabad, in Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and even in Ooty and Machilipatam.
In the chapter on architectural background, Dr Nayeem traces the architectural styles in Hyderabad the stylistic developments.
One of the chapters is devoted to the royal places of the Nizams in Hyderabad and describes only the main palaces: the Khilwat Mubarak- Chow Mohalla palaces; Purani haveli complex; Falaknuma palace; the King Kothi complex; Mahbub mansion, Zeba Bagh and Moti Mahal-Nau Mahal. Within them they comprise 30 palaces which are described and illustrated by the author.

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