Built by the sixth Nizam, the palace was never used by royal family

This is one of those palaces which was built but no one ever lived in it.

The sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, constructed the Sardar Mahal for one of his beloved consorts, Sardar Begum. But sadly enough, it didn't live up to her expectations.

Soon after its completion in 1900, Sardar Begum visited the palace. One cursory glance and the ‘royal displeasure' was clear.

Somehow, she didn't like the palace built in European style. Situated at a stone's throw from the Charminar, Sardar Mahal remained abandoned for years. Similarly, the Saifabad palace (presently the ‘G' block of the Secretariat) was built by the sixth Nizam but never occupied.

Reason – a monitor lizard was seen on its premises, considered a bad omen.

The seventh Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, too, chose not to stay in the Osman Palace built by him in the King Kothi complex as he did not like it.

Luckily, things are looking up for Sardar Mahal now. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has decided to set up a city museum in it as part of strengthening the tourism infrastructure of historic core.

Interestingly, the civic body took over the Sardar Mahal in 1965 as huge property tax arrears were pending.

Since then its circle offices are functioning here.

With the Charminar Pedestrianisation Project under way in full swing, efforts are on to repair this Grade II heritage structure. Revised estimates are being readied and tenders will be called soon. With this, the adaptive reuse of the 111 year old palace will be possible. The proposed Tourist Interpretation Centre at Sardar Mahal will tell the story of the historic city through maps, pictures, artefacts, and memorabilia.

Objet d'art

GHMC plans to acquire the objet d'art from different sources, including the private collections of old Hyderabadis.

But first conservatory works will be taken up to restore the pristine glory of Sardar Mahal, now plagued with vegetal growth and fissures. The Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned Rs. 88 lakh for the job.

“As insisted by the Heritage Conservation Committee in its NOC, we will preserve the existing colour scheme and trees in line with the heritage considerations,” says K. Srinivas Rao, additional chief city planner, GHMC.