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Stage set for glittering show of Nizam's jewellery

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PRICELESS: The exquisite pieces, prized possession of seven generations of the Asaf Jahi dynasty immeasurable in monetary terms, showcased at Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad . - PHOTO: MOHAMMED YOUSUF
PRICELESS: The exquisite pieces, prized possession of seven generations of the Asaf Jahi dynasty immeasurable in monetary terms, showcased at Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad . - PHOTO: MOHAMMED YOUSUF

It will be the biggest show this summer that the Capital has seen for a very long time. Putting an end to months of speculation, the stage has finally been set for the glittering collection of the Nizam's jewellery to keep its date with Delhiites at the National Museum here this summer.

However, practical details like how many people will be allowed into the gallery at a time are being ironed out with the staff of the Museum at the moment. While there will be tight security arrangements, Delhiites can rest assured that this time round the viewing experience of the jewellery will be different from the last time the collection came to town in 2001.

"This time we hope to have an introductory gallery for visitors. There will be information on the collection so that people get to know some background on the pieces and identify what they want to concentrate on. Since you get only half an hour inside the vault to see the jewellery, the introductory gallery will help people spend time on what they really want to see. The gallery is likely to be set up in the verandah of the Museum,'' said an official.

Priced at between Rs.1,870 crores to Rs.2,500 crores, the collection is considered one of the most valuable in the world. With rubies as big as pigeon's eggs from Burma, beautiful pearls, glittering diamonds and emeralds from Columbia, there are belts, necklaces, bracelets and turban ornaments -- it is a legacy of one of the richest men that ever lived. Slated to be a big draw for people for certain, the collection is expected to be on display for two months.

"There are also plans to keep the Museum open on all days for the jewellery so that people get to see the collection. The number of people who were allowed into the vault at a time was 75. But we might think of increasing the number by about five or ten if we can,'' revealed sources.

With the National Museum's new Director-General A. K. V. S. Reddy, an expert on the Nizam's jewellery, having come to the Capital from Salarjung Museum in Hyderabad, he will welcome Delhiites on home ground.

Bringing alive all the clichés about rich kings that ruled India in an almost absurdly lavish style, the Asaf Jah dynasty, the Nizams of Hyderabad, ruled the Deccan for seven long generations. Acquired by the Indian Government after a court case and much drama from the Nizam Jewellery Trust and the Supplementary Jewellery Trust for over Rs. 200 crores in 1995, the collection has 173 pieces.

-- Mandira Nayar

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