Chowmahalla Palace of Hyderabad- Nizams Official Palace
Of the monuments left to us by the greats in history, there are those that tell their stories in ruins. And there are others that have still not lost their splendor (Or in most cases, the lost splendor has been simply renovated.)
If you’re the type who like their history walks grand and you want to relive the splendor of an age gone by without having to imagine much out of ruins, Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad is the place for you.
Chow-Mahalla comes from the Persian word for four- ‘Chow’ and the Arabic for palaces ‘Mahalat’ or Mahallah. It was the official palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad and the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. It was here that official guests and royal visitors to the state and Nizam were housed and entertained.
In 1750, Salabat Jung started the construction of Chowmahalla Palace but couldn’t complete it in his lifetime. The Vth Nizam of Hyderabad, Nizam Afzar-ud-Dawla Bahadur took up the task of completing it and within a span of 12 years- from 1857-1869, it was completed. And the Asaf Jahis shifted from the Qutb Shahi Palace to the Chowmahat. When it was constructed, the palace covered a good 45 acres. In the present day, only 14 acres remain.
The architecture of the 200 year old palace is unlike any other’s in India. It is inspired from the Shah of Iran’s Palace in Tehran. There are 2 courtyards in the complex- The Northern Courtyard and the Southern Courtyard.
The four mahals – Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal, lie in the Southern Courtyard, which was the part first constructed. Built in the neo-classical style, the mahals exude the grandeur of the bygone era. The Aftab Palace is easily the most imposing out of them all. Currently, the South Corridor is under restoration.
The Northern Courtyard, which exhibits Persian elements and Mughal domes in its architecture, consists of several interesting constructions.The Bara Imam, a long corridor of rooms, draws cool from the central fountain and pool that it faces. The officials accompanying the visiting dignitaries were allotted the Shishe-Alat which lies just opposite the Bara Imam. Shishe means mirror and literally, Shish-e-Alat translates into ‘mirror image’. Roshan Bangla is the bungalow where the 6th Nawab, is said to have lived. He named it after his mother, Roshan Begum.
The Clock Tower of Chowmahalla Palace is the clock it contains, popularly known as the ‘Khilwat Clock’. The arms of the clock had been set in motion 250 years ago. To this date, the loyal clock has been ticking away, recording several hundred years gone by.
The main attraction of the Courtyard, though, is Khilwat Mubarak, the Durbar Hall of the palace. Since this was the seat of the dynasty, the people of Hyderabad look up to this place with awe. It contains a pure marble platform on which the Takht-e-Nishan or the royal throne was placed. The Durbar or court was held in this very hall. And so, all the religious and symbolic ceremonies of the royal household were held here. 19 chandeliers of Belgian crystal have been installed in Khilwat Mubarak and now there’s little left to imagination as to how glorious the Durbar must have looked like in its heydays.
There is also the Council Hall in this courtyard which now contains unique manuscripts and books from the Nizam’s collection.
To take a taste of royal life, one can organize cultural evenings, receptions, parties, in the Chowmahalla Palace itself. It comes at its own expensive price of course. But to live, breathe, eat and walk around even like a guest in a Palace like Chowmahalla seems a priceless experience, even if it is for an evening. For the rest of us to whom the wallet poses as a barrier, we can always conjure up a dream world, even as daytime visitors to palaces.
– 12.3 Kms from Secunderabad Railway Station (30-40 minutes drive)
– 4kms from MGBS Railway Station (10-15 minutes drive)
– Buses from Secunderabad Railway Station: 8A and 7Z (every 10 minutes)
– Buses from MGBS Bus Stp, Hyderabad: 72V, 71R, 8A, 72N (every 10-15 minutes)
Location: Motigalli, Hyderabad
Food Facilities: Lots of hotels with various cuisines. One should definitely try Hyderabadi specials.
Timings: 10 am to 5pm. Closed on Fridays and National Holidays
– Rs. 40 for Indians
– Rs. 150 for International Visitors
– Rs. 50 for Still Camera
– Rs. 100 for Video Camera
Nearby Tourist Attractions:
– Salarjung Museum
– Mecca Masjid
– Akkanna Madanna temple
Address: Chowmahalla Palace, Khilwat, 20-4-236, Motigalli, Hyderabad – 500 002
Contact Number: +91 40 24522032
Official Website: http://www.chowmahalla.com