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.

India Today - - COVER STORY - By MRINI DEV­NANI

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.

AT www.ni­vah.in

Yuvraj Surya Vi­jay Singh stands un­der­neath the old­est chan­de­lier in the liv­ing room (above); the din­ing room with a che­quered floor (left)

Pho­to­graphs by DEEPAK AG­GAR­WAL

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

Pho­to­graph by DEEPAK AG­GAR­WAL

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

Pho­to­graph by DEEPAK AG­GAR­WAL

Pho­to­graph by RA­JWANT RAWAT

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