Buggies are back with a bang

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FOR A ROYAL RIDE: The restored buggies used by the Nizam at Chowmohalla Palace in Hyderabad. - PHOTO: P.V. Sivakumar
FOR A ROYAL RIDE: The restored buggies used by the Nizam at Chowmohalla Palace in Hyderabad. - PHOTO: P.V. Sivakumar

J.S. Ifthekhar

The royal mode of transport of yore being restored at Chowmahalla palace

Small workshop set up, complete with all carpentry toolsRestoration work on for the last eight months Over nine artisans putting in best efforts to bring buggies to their original self

Hyderabad: They smack of power and pelf. They may be passé, but they still draw sighs of ecstasy.

As a mode of transport, they have long gone out of fashion, but in the `shahi' palaces of Hyderabad the `buggies' are back with a bang.

Elegant and graceful, this symbol of royalty is being revived in the Chowmahalla Palace. Nine horse-drawn carriages and two hand-pulled rickshaws of yore have got a new lease of life. Several others are in various stages of restoration. In sparkling hues of white and yellow, the buggies which once carried the Nizam and his consorts will now be available for lesser mortals to ride.

The bewitching Chowmahalla palace is in the process of being restored to its pristine glory and the buggies are part of this endeavour. D. Vithal Chary and his team of eight artisans are putting in their best efforts to bring the buggies to their original self.

In bad shape

"They were in pretty bad shape with several parts missing or broken," says Chary, whose father and grandfather worked for the seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan.

Just adjacent to the Afzal palace, a small workshop is set up complete with all carpentry tools. Vithal Chary, Ahmed Ali and Chandulal carefully study the hoary carriages, assess the damage and go about rebuilding them.

The operation restoration is on for the last eight months.

The restored buggies speak of the high degree of workmanship that went into their restoration. The buggies have plush insides.

There is a leather suspension at the back to give cushioning effect in case the buggy runs into a rough road. The buggies carry the manufacturer's name - Norwich C. Thorn, England.

There is a ladies special too. This 12-seater carriage has sliding window panes and cute vents for air circulation. The `Shikar' buggy is simply great. It has three doors and is accessed by a ladder.

The Nizam used it for hunting. It has an emergency exit at the rear and a secret chamber inside. "In case of an animal attack, one could duck and slip into the chamber and make an emergency exit," says Adam Sharif, PRO, Chowmahalla palace.

A huge `howda' placed on the Nizam's elephant, Albert, and a dining chowki are also being restored.

The latter has a rolling frame with provision to place the food containers. To reach a particular dish one has jut to spin the frame and your favourite dish will come rolling.

How about taking a peek at the palaces ensconced in the buggy? Wait a while, the royal experience is just round the corner.



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