Every house has a story. However, this particular one has a lesson in history. The home of Paigahs has been around for about 120 years and was built by Sir Vikar ul Umra for his beloved wife Jahadar Uniza Begum. Obaid Ur Rehman, the grandson of the eldest sister of the 6th Nizam, takes us on a walkthrough and lets us in on the tales of the palace – Hyderabad
For anyone who loves history and has a good imagination, walking down the halls and through the courtyards of a palace would definitely be full of fascination and delight. This particular house happens to be a palace designed by Sir Vikar Ul Umra, who was also the architect of the spectacular Falaknuma Palace. Apparently, when he built Falaknuma, he had a desire to build one architectural splendour for his wife. That’s how the Paigah Palace, a special gift to his beloved wife, came into being.
The interiors of the palace consist of high ceilings, intricate floral designs around the doors and tiled wooden screens that divide rooms. “This palace was built for the ladies of the Paigah family as they followed the zanana-mardana (separate sections for men and women) system during those days,” says Obaid. The Chiran Fort was built for the men of the family. “If you notice, the balconies are all built inside the palace and not outside like how it is in other homes”, he adds.
Obaid lives here with his two daughters on the first floor of the palace while the ground floor and the courtyards are given out for functions and weddings. The staircase that lead up to their living space is just as old as the house. Restorations that the palace underwent have left most of the structure intact while some sections are being rebuilt, like the lift tower and a few designs on the barren walls.
There are two living rooms, both of which have portraits of the Paigah family and shelves filled with antique artefacts. The private living room has portraits of Obaid and his parents, as well as his siblings, on the wall. Below them lies silverware, neatly stacked on shelves, as well as a huge range of cutlery and glasses. “I was about 22 or 23 when that portrait of mine was made. The one opposite me is my father; he was a doctor. I have two siblings, one sister and one brother,” says Obaid who took over the palace after his mother passed away.
The private living room has two doors, one leading to a study and a bedroom, and another to the old stairway that isn’t used anymore. The study has a huge antique ceramic clock. “The clock is so delicate even though it’s huge. The intricate detailing on it is beautiful. It’s of German make and there’s only one more piece in the world that is similar to this,” shares the proud owner.
The other living room is a much larger one and is decorated with a ruby coloured chandelier that hangs from the middle of the room. A matching lamp sits below it on the centre table and surrounding the room are more portraits of the entire Paigah family and the Nizams. There are different shelves that showcase various artefacts. If one shelf has an old collection of dolls, another has stacks of silver cutlery, yet another shelf showcases miniature monuments and one more has toys that Obaid played with while growing up. “There’s a silver rattle, a soap dish, a hand mirror, hair brush with a silver handle, perfume bottles and other things that I used as a kid and I’ve preserved,” he describes.
The living room leads to a guest dining area which has an emerald chandelier hanging from the ceiling and matching lights around the room. The dining area is filled with cutlery from around the world that his mother had collected and remain intact even today. “We only use these when we have many guests, otherwise some of the things that my mother had are used as show pieces like the tea cup and saucer clock or the tray with pink floral design,” says Obaid.
There are about three courtyards in the palace, two which are rented out for functions and one private one which they have created by removing one of the kitchens. “Back in the day we had the maiz-khana which is the kitchen, it was huge, but recently we developed that into a courtyard for ourselves,” he explains.
Most of the furniture and décor items were brought in specially from France or Germany. “The thing is, when Sir Vikar Ul Umra wanted to make this another spectacular palace, there were people against it. They were stopped, and he gifted it to his wife anyway!” Obaid informs. On taking a look around the palace and meeting with his nephew Habib, we get more insights about the Paigahs and their story, but that’s for another time. Until then, this is the Paigah Palace for you.