Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad, India - a classic place of splendor and beauty

chowmahalla-palace, Hyderabad, Telengana. Hyderabad Tourism
Times of India

Chowmahalla Palace or Chowmahallatuu (4 Palaces), the palace of the  erstwhile rulers of Hyderabad state - the Nizams state, is a popular destination point for the tourists. Once it was  the powerful seat of power of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad while they ruled their state.  Built by Nizam Salabat Jung in 1750s,  it is being under the custody of   Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, heir of the Nizams. The UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation was presented to Chowmahalla Palace on 15 March 2010 and  Princess Esra, former wife and GPA holder of Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur received the covetous plaque and certificate from the UNESCO representative.

rows of rooms Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad Hyderabad City Guide

Believed to be the first examples of European neo-classical architecture in Hyderabad, the inspiring  Chowmahalla Palace complex consists of  many buildings around two main courtyards, that were added on  over the years  without losing consistency in the design and architectural style. The complex has  two clear parts well demarcated, the first that contains a series of rooms around a large courtyard and a water  body within the main Khilwat (centerpiece of the complex) located at the apex of the courtyard.  This part has Bara Imam, a long corridor of rooms on the east side facing the central fountain and pool that once housed the administrative wing and Shishe-Alat, meaning mirror image.  The rooms, presumably guest rooms in the past, have now been adapted to serve as spaces for craftsmen to work in and sell their wares. This part has Mughal-type domes and arches and many Persian 
Darbar Hall, ornate window.
 Above image: Ornate with intricate stucco work, this is one of the two windows that flank the facade of the durbar hall-
Khilwat Mubarak  ............................................................

Darbar Hall. Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad, India

elements like the ornate stucco work that adorn the Khilwat Mubarak that  contains the Darbar Hall (Throne Room). It is restored and converted into a Museum to house costumes and artifacts from the Nizam’s collection. It was here,  the Nizams held their durbar and other religious and symbolic ceremonies. An interesting feature is recently  19 spectacular Chandeliers of Belgian crystal were  reinstalled to recreate the lost splendor of this regal hall.

interior with chandeliersChowmahalla Palace,

 The second part of  the complex is made of nice  four palaces, built around a courtyard and water body. This is the oldest part of the palace, and has four palaces Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal. It was built in the neo-classical style. This was restored to create Museums on the Nizam’s dynasty.  The palace was restored between 2005 and 2010 under the patronage of Princess Esra The palace once stood on a huge plot of  45 acres (180,000 m2), but only 12 acres (49,000 m2) remain today; this being due to rapid urbanization coupled with illegal encroachments.

vintage cars. chowmahalla-palace, Hyderabad,

The restoration work was done with meticulous care in two phases, giving due importance to highly damaged parts and restoring them  back to old splendor without affecting their heritage values. Final restoration on the building was done after making sure all the weak structures, etc are stabilized and repaired to the fullest satisfaction. Though time-consuming it was a well-done job. 

The place is named chowmahalla, meaning  four palaces (urdu/Hindu). It was at this palace, during the colonial rule, all ceremonial functions including the accession of the Nizams and receptions for the Governor-General were held. Though  Salabat  began the construction in 1750  it was completed during the reign of Afzal ad-Dawlah, Asaf Jah V between 1857 and 1869.
Chowmahalla Palace, watch tower, Hyderabad.

An important attraction here is the old clock above the main gate to Chowmahalla Palace called  Khilwat Clock. It has been in action  for around 251 years. An expert family of clock repairers winds the mechanical clock every week.
This amazing palace was open to the public in 2005. This place is positively worth a visit. Incidentally, the Nizam was, decades ago, the richest man in the world. He was a patron of Rolls Royce cars like the ruleres of Mysore -the wodiyars.