LOVE AT FIRST LIGHT
The shimmering chandeliers of the heritage property Nivah in Moradabad have outlived its residents, articulating a history of 100 years. Yuvraj Surya Vijay Singh of the royal family of Sahaspur Bilari, Uttar Pradesh, takes us on a tour of his palace.
Chandeliers can’t help but stand out. From the crystals cut with precision to the delicate shape of the glass, they were made to gleam. After all, their glittering presence adds that much needed whimsy, charm, and drama to a space. At the palatial, refurbished interiors of Nivah in Moradabad, they stand as majestic reminders of elegance and craftsmanship. In fact, their history dates back to the reign of Rani Pritam Kunwar of Sahaspur Bilari who sourced them from her city palace in Moradabad during the 1940s. They have stood the test of time and today make a regal statement.
PAST PERFECTED Nivah is both home to the royal family of Sahaspur Bilari and a boutique heritage property. It was previously known as Meston Niwas or Sahaspur Bilari House. A curious amalgamation of different styles of architecture, this royal retreat was commissioned as a guest house by Raja Bahadur of Sahaspur Bilari in 1910 to honour his friend Sir James Scorgie Meston, the Governor of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, who was a frequent visitor to Moradabad. It played host to distinguished thinkers, reformers, royalty, presidents and even prime ministers. However, Rani Pritam Kunwar was the first person from the royal family to convert this into her town house. Today, it is home to Raja Chandra Vijay
Singh and his family, the youngest of whom is 33-year-old Yuvraj Surya Vijay Singh. The ground floor has now been converted into a bed and breakfast, while the royal family still occupies the floor above.
A FINE MIX With its stately white exteriors, this royal residence might seem like any other palace to the layman, but a discerning eye will find a perfect marriage of colonial architecture with Indo-Islamic influences. Case in point—the cupids resting near the fountains are just as much at home as the arched columns. In fact, after the last revamp modern Indian influences abound as well. Interior designer Adil Ahmad has effectively used wallpapers to paint a vivid picture in every corner, corridor and room; there are hues ranging from light oranges and baby blues to dazzling yellows and millennial pinks. “Adil helped us refurbish the interiors in 2016, using handcrafted, custom-made, geometrical wallpapers, keeping in mind a lighter palette. It took us nearly two years to complete,” says Surya.
ALL IN ONE SPACE The double height living room that has blue wallpaper embellished with white
peacock motifs is where the oldest surviving chandelier can be found. “I have grown up seeing these chandeliers over a series of summer breaks going from school to college as they hold sentimental value for the family,” says Surya. Across the living room is the dining area with heavily patterned walls and an opulent chandelier that lights up an antique table below. While many family heirlooms have been shifted to the private quarters, the guest bedrooms, named after gems, keep alive the memory of royals who lived here through numerous photographs and artefacts. “Since our palace is a lavish lodging in the middle of an industrial, busy city, a close family friend often called it a diamond in the rough. So, it made sense to name the rooms after precious stones such as jasper, topaz, jade, amber, moonstone, citrine and coral,” says Surya, who is currently working on expansion plans. What sets Nivah apart is not just its regal splendour but its excellent design that marries the best of the past and the present.
Yuvraj Surya Vijay Singh stands underneath the oldest chandelier in the living room (above); the dining room with a chequered floor (left)
Clockwise from above: A grand light fixture in one of the guest rooms; way to the private residence on the first floor; the bathrooms unlike the rooms are high tech and modern
Clockwise from right: Designed as an extension of the living room, this area overlooks the garden at the back; the library, part of the private residence has the old, original furniture, lamps and parquet flooring; a cosy corner, another extension of the living room