Being a New Yorker as well as a world traveler, I have had the good fortune to visit many of the world’s top museums and see historical collections that amaze the mind and dazzle the eyes. One might thing that having so many museum experiences would make me jaded, but I feel just the opposite. I am continually astounded and gobsmacked by new findings – and this was true visiting Hyderabad’s famous museums: the Nizam and Salar Jung.
Let me first provide a brief history of the Asaf Jahi Dynasty whose leaders became the Nizams of Hyderabad. The family arrived in India in the 17th century from Turkey where they had been teachers and intellectuals. Throughout the years they served the Mughal emperors of India as successful high ranking officials in the army. One man, Asaf Jah eventually created an independent state in the Deccan Plateau (central India) though the area was still considered as part of the then Mughal Emperor of Delhi’s domain. The Deccan Plateau acted as a bulwark sheltering South India from invasions and from the political turmoil that affected North India.
The 4th son, Ali Khan became the undisputed Nizam and was recognized as such by the Mughals. The last ruling seventh Nizam of Hyderabad H.E.H Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah-VII created a Trust which set up the Nizam’s Museum. The museum was established in 2000 to house the personal collection of artifacts which were gifted to the Nizam in celebration of his silver jubilee in 1937.
Sir Mir Turab Ali Khan, Salar Jung I, served as Prime Minister of Hyderabad S between 1853 until his death in 1883. He also served as regent for the sixth Nizam, Asaf Jah VI between 1869 and 1883. Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III (1889-1949) served as primos Minister during the Nizam’s rule. Over 35 years Salar Jung III spent enormous amounts of money collecting artifacts from all over the world. After his death the Salar Jung Museum was dedicated to housing his enormous personal collection
Now on to “a few of my favorite things.” Let’s start with the impressive set of cars, including the Rolls Royce above – most of the men in my group had a particular fascination with this exhibit. Unfortunately the cars were in glass cases and since it was difficult to get a clear photo – with your indulgence I took these car pics off the internet:
Most royal exhibits of collections contain multiple upon multiple pieces. Within these multitudes however, something special shines through. For example, you would expect many many versions of crockery. But this collection of the sweetest teapots caught my eye:
These are particularly engaging as they are all made of jade – in an astonishing array of colors. There was an entire “Jade” room and these are some other fabulous pieces:
I would ecstatically make that necklace part of my collection.
Let me end this post with a funny piece that stole my heart. There were of course countless numbers of walking sticks on display in another section of the museum. Diamond and other jewel-encrusted, rare woods, even one made totally of crystal. But this is the one that made me smile:
See any resemblance?
Next week I will show you my three top pieces .