The Mehtab Mahal library at Chowmahalla Palace throws open a treasure trove from the Nizam’s era

The Nizams, it turns out, had an eye for everything exquisite. From the jewellery they wore to the silks that adorned their wardrobe, the cars they rode in, and the cuisine they partook, everything simply spelt royalty. While these indicate their lavish lifestyle, their interest in books and literature is less known.

Throwing light on their urge to discover and relate to the world around is the Royal Library in Chowmahalla Palace; its collection of books includes The Life of Samuel Johnson, History of Don Quixote, John F Kennedy – Portrait of a President, Glimpses of India, The Princes of India and an array of Encyclopaedias and much more .

Situated in the Mehtab Mahal of the Chowmahalla, the Royal Library houses more than 10,000 books and “is a haven for researchers and book lovers.”

The library that was thrown open to book lovers last year has been digitized recently, not only to help book lovers but also ensure safety of the royal treasure.

The idea of the library is to protect and preserve the valuable collection of the Asaf Jahi kings. The collection mostly belonged to the Mir Mahboob Ali Khan (VI Nizam), Mir Osman Ali Khan (VII Nizam) and Nizam Mukarram Jah. The books have been sourced from different Asaf Jahi palaces like the Nazri Bagh, Chiran Palace and Chowmahalla to be housed in the Royal Library here.

The books thus collected were sorted and segregated into various categories.

“A lot of work went into making them ready to be put in the cases for readers to read them in the library. Various professionals worked to clean, bind and make the books fit for reading. We have applied all preservation techniques, including fumigation, to protect the books,” informs G. Kishan Rao. He adds, “The collection of books range from history, literature, poetry, philosophy, geography, culture and religion. This library also houses the exclusive collection of Qurans by the Nizams which was inaugurated recently.” A few books also hint at the Nizam’s passion to learn languages. The number of English books is close to 3000, followed by Urdu, Persian and Arabic.

“There is also a good number of Persian manuscripts containing the firmans issued by the Asaf Jahis as well as several volumes of Mir Osman Ali Khan's poetry,” informs the librarian. Qurans of different sizes are in the process of being restored and will find place in the library after that.