Sir Nizamat Jung stayed in Hill Fort Palace for 15 years. In the year 1929, it was sold to the government and it was then designated as the Official Residence of the Chairman of the City Improvement Board. The younger son of Asaf Jhah, Prince Moazzam Jah, generally referred to as the Junior Prince, stayed in the Hill Fort Palace.
In 1955, Hill Fort Palace was handed over by the Government of India to the Ritz Hotel Company on lease. It was operating till late 1990s. The palace is located in the heart of the city near Naubat Pahad. Now the Palace is under the ownership of Telangana Tourism.
Sir Nizamat Jung, the Chief Justice of Nizam Court suffered from asthma in 1915 and he was advised to stay in an open place with fresh air. Thereupon he bought a piece of five acres of land for Rs.100 and proceeded to build a residence for himself.
The architecture of Hill Fort Palace was based on the Trinity College in Cambridge where Sir Nizamat Jung had studied, and the castles described in the novels of Sir Walter Scott. The building was completed in 1915 and named the ‘Hill Fort Palace’.
Sir Nizamat Jung lived in it for 15 years. After a visit to Mecca on his retirement in 1929, he decided to live a simpler life and so decided to sell the property. The Nizam then bought the building. Sir Nizamat asked for a price of Rs.1, 00,000 - the amount which he had spent and refused to take any appreciation. Out of that amount, he requested for adjustment of the amount of two loans which he had taken for building the house and for the purchase of a car. The net price was Rs.67, 000.
Hill Fort Palace was then allotted to the Junior Prince as his official residence in his capacity as the Chairman of the City Improvement Board. He was married to Princess Niloufer who was the first cousin of the wife of the Prince of Berar, who, in turn, was the only child of the last Caliph of Turkey.
The Prince who was a poet sported the pen-name of ‘Shajih’. He used to live lavishly and held his ‘court’ at night, sleeping during the day. Every evening a selected gathering of nobles and some poets was invited to dine with him. After that a mehfil was arranged which lasted throughout the night. At that mehfil mostly poetry composed by him was sung by professional singers. Early in the morning the ‘court’ would be dismissed and the Prince would take two sleeping pills and go to bed. Some well known poets came to be associated with his ‘court’.
Hill Fort Palace was used for some time as an office by the newly-appointed Development Commissioner of the State. In 1955, Hill Fort Palace was leased to the Ritz Hotel Company for running a hotel there. For many years the Ritz Hotel was the most modern and the best hotel in Hyderabad. It retained its old world charm till the very end and many old-timers still used to prefer to stay there rather than the more modern hotels which came up later in the city.
In 1989 the Government of Andhra Pradesh decided to terminate the lease and after protracted legal battles, ultimately the building reverted to government in 1997. There were various proposals about the use to which it should be put - as a State Guest House, or as a residence for the Chief Minister. Finally, it was decided to run it as a Heritage Hotel.
International consultants are being appointed for that purpose for selecting a private party to run it. Hill Fort Palace is now nearly 85 years old and has been witness to so much history and has generated so many legends and anecdotes.
(Last Updated on : 04-09-2014)
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