Amidst the lush gardens and sparkling fountains stands a beautiful white palace just like a fairytale fantasy. The Chowmahalla Palace or Chowmahallatuu (4 Palaces), is a palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad state. It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad while they ruled their state. The palace remains the property of Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, heir of the Nizams and a standing testimony to the glorious past.
The construction of Chowmahalla Palace started in the year 1790 by Nizam Salabat Jung and was completed between 1857 and 1869 during the reign of 5th Nizam, Afzar-ud-Daulah, Asaf Jav V. It is believed the model of this palace is replica of Shah of Iran’s palace, located in Tehran.It is located close to Charminar, the palace complex comprises the Khilwat Mubarak, where the Hyderabad royals held court, and other imposing buildings, including the Afzal Mahal, Aftab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal, Rang Mahal, Roshan Bangla and Chaman Bangla. The original area of the Chowmahalla Palace was about 45 acres, which has got whittled down over the years to a meagre 12 acres. The palace constitutes of two courtyards, Southern courtyard and Northern courtyard.
This part has the Bara Imam, with a number of rooms, lining a long corridor, which faces the pool and the eastern side of the central fountain. This used to be the administrative wing of the palace. This structure has striking Mughal domes and other elements of Persian architecture such as ornamental stucco work that decorates Khilwat Mubarak. Right opposite this structure, there is Shishe Alat. The rooms here were used guest rooms for special guest.
Right in the center of Chowmahalla Palace is Khilwat Mubarak, the seat of the rulers of Asaf Jahi dynasty.
This structure has the huge Durbar Hall with impressive pillars. This hall has a marble platform where Takht-e-Nishan or the Royal Seat was placed. It was the hall in which the Nizams used to organize their court and other important ceremonies. However its main hall is roped off, so you can’t walk through it
The most recent addition here are the 19 stunning Chandeliers of Belgian crystal.
The rooms surrounding this central hall have been converted into galleries, of which the first is an introduction to the Asafjahi dynasty.
Almost every object used by the Nizam’s were kept in display in this museum
Ornate with intricate stucco work, this is one of the two windows that flank the facade of the durbar hall.
The visitors are welcomed by The Clock Tower, right above the main gate of the palace. It is Khilwat Clock. The clock in this tower has been ticking for around 250 years. Every week, an expert winds the mechanical clock.
There is another building, the Council hall that has a collection of historic manuscripts and rare books. The collection also consists of royal buggies, crockery, vintage cars, furniture and crockery belonging to the times of Nizams. Temporary exhibitions are organized here from time to time.
This is another beautiful structure. It is believed that the 6th Nizam lived here. It is named after his mother, Roshan Begum.
Built in neo-classical style, southern part is the oldest part of the palace and comprises of 4 palaces- Aftab Mahal, Afzal Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Mahtab Mahal.
These palaces are now restored and are now museums that display the furniture, artefacts, chandeliers, mirrors, exquisite sarees and dresses worn by the royal family, and other antiques.
The Buggee Khana
Many vintage cars are under display here
This spectacular Fiat limousine with a prominent “Dastaar” or crown on the cowl.
This splendid 1952 Packard 200 Deluxe Touring Sedan below was used occasionally by the present Nizam and his wife
The yellow car shown below is a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost 1911 Model! The yellow body had gold mountings and various parts of the body, lights, roof, etc were finished in silver!
In 1936 in commemoration of 25 years of rule of the seventh Nizam a grand celebration was planned. Needless to say being the richest monarch and person on the planet he could have bought the entire Rolls Royce factory let alone a new car for the occasion. But being the frugal man he was he instead opted to have the above car refurbished at minimal expense. A princely sum of 500 dollars was sanctioned for the renovation after much persuasion. The car was sent to the Railway garage and apart from a reskin of its sides, received a “shortening” of the bonnet with a longer cowl and smaller wheels. The front and rear fenders were replaced with “modern” iterations. The changes to this magnificent car to say the least at ghastly. However, these changes are in line with the preparations for a historic event in Hyderabad, the Silver Jubillee celebrations.
Legend has it that on the Nizam’s return once from a trip to Delhi he was received at the Nampally station in the Rolls. The crowd was so large that it was impossible to drive and the car ended up being pushed all the way to the palace.
Given the special occasions on which such a ceremonial car would be used it is not surprising that in 96 years of its existence this car has done only 356 miles!!!
Heritage Library in Chowmahalla Palace complex
The latest addition to Chowmahalla Palace was Heritage Library that has over 10,000 books including the personal collection of the Nizams including VII Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan and VI Nizam Mir Mahbub Ali Khan. This library has a vintage decor, revamped furniture, portraits and paintings that originally belonged to the rulers of the region. The manuscripts are in various languages including Urdu, English, Persian and Arabic. Century-old books are about medicine, geography, history, poetry, Islamic culture, law and literature.
More images here
Timings: 10:00 AM to 5:00PM (Closed on Friday)
The entry fee for Indian visitors is Rs 50 per person; foreign visitors pay Rs 200 per person. Photography is allowed (except in certain rooms and areas); a fee of Rs 50 is levied for a still camera, while Rs 100 is charged for a video camera.