In the city of Charminar, a global icon of Hyderabad, the Chowmahalla Palace may appear to be an oddity, but this elegant mansion — the residence of the Nizams in yesteryears — stands out for its undiminished magnetism. It gives observers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the erstwhile rulers of the Deccan, symbolised by a bevy of vintage cars and a 250-year-old clock tower that is still ticking.
A free and guided heritage walk, planned for the city on February 10, will take the visitors to this resplendent palace that was built by Nizam Salabat Jung, and still bears the pride of the Asaf Jahi dynasty, which established the Nizami rule in the Deccan.
Hyderabad is among 37 cities hosting the month-long, multi-city second edition of India Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF), organised jointly by Sahapedia (sahapedia.org), the online resource on Indian arts and culture, and UNESCO, to encourage citizens to explore the tangible and intangible heritage of their cities and towns.All bookings for the festival are powered by Odigos, a product by the Bird Group, is an online marketplace that connects tourists to certified guides in India. Odigos app provides a seamless way for travellers and locals alike to understand and explore the iconic sites of our country.
Located in central Hyderabad and not far from the Charminar, the Chowmahalla Palace, took more than a century to construct and represents a synthesis of different architectural styles and influences. It comprises the southern and northern courtyards and a Durbar Hall (Khilawat Mubarak). Flanked by a 250-year-old clock tower that has been ticking tirelessly, the Khilawat Mubarak stands in its full glory with striking architectural aesthetics comprising laced windows and ornate stucco work..
Walking through the Durbar Hall acquaints one with the illustrious history of the Nizams, with their princely dresses, court uniforms, armour, furniture, ceramic ware, paintings and framed photographs. Beyond the Durbar Hall are the four mahals (buildings) that gave the palace its name, ‘Chowmahalla’: Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Taniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal.
Malay Mandal, a musician, art enthusiast and history lover who is currently pursuing his PhD in Gender Studies from the University of Hyderabad, will lead the two-hour nostalgic trip (12 pm-2pm), which will conclude with the jaw-dropping sight of the Nizams’ collection of vintage cars like Rolls Royce and Ford.
The IHWF, which received the prestigious PATA Gold Award 2018 for its maiden edition organised last year, is a one-of-its-kind month-long festival covering 37 cities, with nearly 100 heritage walks and outreach events. The February 02-28 festival is being supported by NMDC, a state-run mineral producer and explorer. The events’ bookings are facilitated by Odigos, an app that makes travel and discovery easier in India.
Vaibhav Chauhan, Festival Director (IHWF) and Secretary, Sahapedia, said: “We want to democratise access to local history and culture. One might be living in the same neighbourhood for years, but there is abig chance that an important landmark, tucked away in a back alley, has been missed and forgotten. The IHWF is that opportunity to discover the hidden gems linked to the history of a place, town or city.”
Junhi Han, Head and Programme Specialist for Culture, UNESCO New Delhi office, said, “The IHWF programme addresses knowledge of local architectural heritage, sustainable tourism, with a special focuson gender-related issues and accessibility in cultural heritage facilitating more inclusive and better outreach. The festival is expected to involve, engage and sensitize more people, in particular the youth,about their cultural heritage.”
Details about the walks, registration and other programmes of IHWF 2019 are available onhttps://www.odigosguides.com/India-heritage-walk-festival
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