First of the series on the Palaces of Hyderabad. I chose this for two reasons – alphabetically the first in the list and more than that I grew up around the palace and was always amazed by its grandeur.
Asman Garh Palace is a palace located in Hyderabad, India. The name meaning, Asman for Sky, and Garh for home, since the palace was located so high on a hillock. It is located on the road from Malakpet and Dilsukhnagar.The palace presently hosts a museum displaying archaeological relics. The palace presently is converted into a school (St Joseph’s Public School, Asman Garh Palace branch).
It was designed personally and built by the erstwhile Prime Minister of Hyderabad state Sir Asman Jah in 1885 on a hillock for leisure. He belonged to the Paigah family. He fulfilled his dream of building a home close to the sky. His real name was Mohammed Mazharuddin Khan, he was the grandson of the second Nizam, Sikander Jah.
Located on an elevated spot on the now busy Malakpet – Dilsukhnagar road, on the right , behind the T.V. tower, the palace was a landmark in the eastern parts of the city, visible even from the highway. Not anymore, residential buildings beseeching the hillock have blocked the view now. A visitor can still get a bird’s eye view of the growing urban sprawl from the roof of the palace.
Built in 1885, the palace has some unparalleled architectural features, for which it finds its name in the list of heritage buildings meant for conservation. A staunch believer of making his creations look different, Sir Asman Jah, chose the Gothic style with pointed arches supported by small Corinthian pillars and stretched arrow-slit windows to build this cosy resort. Then he topped the building with castellated battlements. All these features contributed to the illusion of a fortified castle perched atop a hillock at the edge of what was once a large wooded area.
A flight of steps leads to a platform from where the staircase branches off on either side, giving it an interesting wrap – around appearance. Another peculiar feature, the gateway at the entrance, which is in the shape of the royal turban of the Seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, was added much later in 1925-26. In the years gone by, this gateway too could be seen from a distance.
The Paigah Nawab ensured that the once well-furnished villa was a perfect place to unwind for the nobles tired from hunting down animals , big and small that came their way. No wonder it was one of the favourite resorts of the Sixth Nizam, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan. He never missed staying here, as the castle was strategically located enroute to Saroornagar and its surrounding areas, his chosen place for hunting big game.
After a few stays, he liked the villa and Sir Asman Jah in true Paigah style, could never say no to the ruler who was also his brother-in-law. Thus from the Paigahs the palace passed on to the Nizams. The idyllic setting of the palace, perhaps made the Seventh Nizam, choose it for initially locating the Osmania University campus , much before the present site at what was a village, Adikmet.
The palace remained idle for a long time after the momentous political changes of the past century until the Birlas took over the building for locating the Birla Archaeological Museum and Research Centre. Now the management of St. Joseph’s Public School has bought the building in the year 2000 and runs a branch of the main school (at King Kothi). They have not tinkered with the structure but have added a new four-storied building, dwarfing the importance of the villa.