One look at the splendid Chowmahallah palace, and you’ll be transported back in time. As one among the most ancient heritage buildings still existing in Hyderabad, the Chowmahalla Palace complex is a must see for anyone visiting the city of the Nizams. Built by the Asaf Jahi dynasty over 2 centuries ago, it is unique in its style and classiness. It was the palace where the Nizams played host to their official guests and royal visitors and held ceremonial functions such as accessions etc., during their reign. Deemed to be an exact replica of the Shah of Iran’s palace in Tehran, the architecture shows influence from Persian, Indo Saracenic, Rajasthani and European styles. Work on this magnificent structure began under Salabat Jung Bahadur in 1750 and Afzal Asaf Jah’s reign saw its completion in 1869. The complex got its name from the ‘Chaar’ or ‘chow’ meaning four and ‘mahalat’ meaning palaces, situated inside the oldest part of the complex. This southern part houses the Tahniyat Mahal, Afzal Mahal, Aftab Mahal and the Mahtab Mahal.
The Bara Imam, the erstwhile administrative wing, is situated in the northern courtyard, and has many rooms and pool with a central fountain. The Shishe Alat is an exact mirror image of the Bara Imam on the opposite side. The Khilwat Mubarak, the most well-known part of the palace was the seat of power for the Asaf Jahi Dynasty. The Takht-e-Nishan (The Royal Seat) is found in the Durbar Hall which has lofty pillars and an impressive marble platform which elevates the Takht. A huge collection of historic manuscripts and rare books can be found in the Council Hall.
The photographs on the walls give you a sneak peek into the glorious past of the Nizams. Apart from their family photographs, there are snaps of the Nizam inaugurating various places like the Begumpet Airport, Osmania Hospital, Osmania university arts college, Nampally railway station, the assembly etc. Surprising isn’t it that Hyderbabd had all this infrastructure early in the 20th century, while it took way longer for such facilities to be available to other parts of the country.
The Nizam’s queens and the royal women of the Zenana also feature in some of the snaps. Also on display is the crockery, swords, daggers and other armoury which was used in those days. The Deccani silk saris that adorned the royal women of those times are also amongst the exhibits. The Sixth Nizam Mir Mahboob Ali Khan’s classic Napier cars are also on display in this palace along with other cars like the Rolls Royce that belonged to the seventh Nizam. So affluent were the Nizams that the Roll Royce was allegedly used as a garbage transporting vehicle.
After some well thought out restoration by the Nizam’s family, the dazzling Chowmahallah Palace has now been converted into an exclusive venue for corporate dinners, cultural events and receptions etc. Dining in a royal setting is bound to be a memorable experience for all those who get the chance to be guests at this regal venue.
In 2010, the esteemed Asia Pacific Merit award for conservation of cultural heritage was bestowed on Chowmahalla Palace. Princess Esra, daughter-in-law of the last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, who currently holds the GPA to the Palace, received the award.
Chowmahalla Palace was once thought to be the centre of Hyderabad. Situated quite close to Charminar, it is easily accessible from all parts of Hyderabad. Visitors can use, bus, cars and auto rickshaws as modes of transport to get to the Chowmahallah Palace.
A visit to Chowmahallah palace will definitely leave you feeling in awe of the splendor of the lifestyle of the Nizam, who at one time was the richest man in the world. And don’t forget to stop at the Royal Photo Studio before you leave to get your photo clicked, all decked up in royal finery.
Regular Timings for Viewing Palace: 10am -5pm
(No viewing on Fridays and National Holidays)
Tickets: Indian Visitor: Rs. 40
International Visitor: Rs. 150
Still Camera: Rs.50
Video Camera: Rs.100