A love story that wasn’t to be

Goshamahal used as a retreat by the royal women was the scene of action of a budding romance.

By Author   |   Published: 18th Dec 2016   2:07 am Updated: 18th Dec 2016   1:06 am
Freemasons Lodge
Hidden Stories: Once a pleasure retreat for the royal women and ladies of the harem, today Goshamahal Baradari houses the Freemasons Lodge. Photo: Surya Sridhar

Housing the Freemasons lodge today, those who pass by the Goshamahal Baradari (gosha meaning purdah) are probably unaware of a delicious story attached to the palace. Built exclusively for the royal begums and ladies of the harem and maids during the Qutb Shahi era, the story goes that among many ladies of the harem, lived a young and beautiful girl called Nanni Sanwali.

Bestowed with a beautiful face and comely nature, she was a favourite of the queen who saw her as a confidante. Jealous of her proximity to the queen, the other maids conspired to take her down. The opportunity arose when a Qutb Shahi prince sneaked into the palace one day. Males were prohibited from entering the premises but the prince managed this through a window situated near the hauz (water reservoir). From a hidden perch near the hauz, he would regularly look at the bathing women. One day, he happened to see Nanni and was instantly besotted by her.

Photo: Surya Sridhar.

Social barriers:

Nanni soon realised that she had an admirer. Though both were attracted to each other, their backgrounds didn’t allow the two to meet, so the prince left no opportunity to gaze at her. It went on until one day a maid pushed Nanni into the hauz. Upon hearing her cry, the prince rushed to rescue Nanni. He carried her out of the water and laid her on the ground. But on seeing Nanni’s voluptuous curves visible through her flimsy garment, the prince was left in a daze. The cinderella like romance ended when the maids spread the news of the incident in every nook and corner of the palace. Ashamed of the public humiliation and ridicule, Nanni committed suicide. Since then, any mention of the palace inevitably leads to talk of the story.

Photo: Surya Sridhar.

Architectural marvel:

Goshamahal’s construction was started by Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah and completed by Abul Hasan Tana Shah. In its heyday, the palace had 1,000 rooms and halls which could accommodate about 3,500 persons.

Now the double-storey building has a big hall on the ground floor, and another one on the first floor. The wooden doors of the Baradari are 10 to 14 feet high. There is intricate work on the mortar grill of the main and adjacent doors with jaali work on the arches. A poem depicting the year of construction and other details in Persian is inscribed on an adjacent wall.

After the fall of Golconda, the palace also served as the Mughal headquarters of Aurangzeb who performed the coronation ceremony of Prince Shah Alam here.

Photo: Surya Sridhar

There used to be a big hauz in the centre of the palace which was 12 feet deep, today the Shiv Kumar Lal Police Station stands in its place. In all probability, the complex was spread up to Darussalam, Goshamahal and beyond.

According to historian Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, it used to take an entire day to see all the rooms of the palace. But the complex and hauz have since disintegrated, the Goshamahal Baradari alone stands as a proof of the past glory and grandeur.