Walking through the hallways and corridors of Bhopal’s majestic Noor-Us-Sabah Palace, it is easy to imagine the city’s former ruling begums inhabiting these spaces. The lobby shimmers with patterned marble floors, high ceilings, grand chandeliers, and displays of spears and shields. Vintage relics, of the royal era, are exhibited all across the palace including a palanquin used by the last ruling begum – Sultan Shah Jahan Begum, weapons used by nawabi armies, and a carved sandalwood replica of a mosque gifted to the Begum Abida Sultan by the Sultan of Turkey.
The last nawab of Bhopal, Hamidullah Khan, built the Noor-Us-Sabah Palace in the 1920s for his eldest daughter, Abida Sultan. Spread across 18 acres on a hill high above the Bada Talab, the palace, now proudly stands as an elegant refurbished and luxurious heritage hotel with 57 rooms.
Retiring to my comfortable room with warm wood accents and plush furnishings, after spending a tiring day in the Old City’s bustling streets, was just what I needed. True to its name ‘Noor-Us-Sabah’, which translates to ‘the light of dawn’ in Urdu, as the first light hits the Bada Talab, the views from my lake-facing balcony are magical. Breakfasts here are lavish affairs and a definite hat tip to the cuisine of the nawabs. Never before have I sampled melt-in-the-mouth Galouti Kebabs at a breakfast buffet. I try and balance them with a side of sprouts and fruits, but while living the life of a royal in Bhopal, it is quite all right to indulge.
As night falls, the palace’s gardens and poolside look resplendent illuminated by lamplights. The Marble Arch restaurant offers sweeping views of Bhopal’s city lights below, but I choose to head to Za-aiqa for a true taste of the city. Here, musicians perform old classics every night and the live kitchen has chefs dishing out kebabs and biryanis with flair. On the chef’s recommendation, I tuck into a Bhopali speciality Murgh Rizala – chicken in a rich and creamy spiced coriander gravy – and a sesame seed-topped Dahi Kebab. Living in splendour definitely has its benefits.
Getting there: Noor-Us-Sabah Palace is 7.5km/15 minutes from Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal and 8km/25 minutes from Bhopal Jn. Railway Station.
Address: VIP Road, Koh-E-Fiza, Bhopal
Tariff: Double room starts at ₹ 7,500/- inclusive of breakfast