The 150-year-old Chowmahalla Palace, southwest of the Mecca Masjid, was mostly built between 1857 and 1869 by the Nizams to entertain royal visitors and official guests. The Nizams were native rulers of the Hyderabad State dating back to the Asaf Jah dynasty. Inspired by the Shah’s palace in Tehran, it is actually a complex of four palaces, other imposing edifices, elegant courtyards and fountain-filled gardens. The name ‘Chowmahalla’ is Persian-Arabic and translates to ‘four palaces’ – for obvious reasons, this is how the palace received it’s now infamous name.
The palace itself took around 100 years to build, and due to its long years of expansion and the forever changing fashion of architect, Persian, Indo-Saracenic, Rajasthani and European styles can be seen throughout the grounds.
Chowmahalla Palace © Vasuki Rao / Shutterstock
Chowmahalla Palace Grounds
The grounds to Chowmahalla Palace once covered 45 acres, however, this has now reduced in size to 14 acres.
The grand Kilwat Mubarak (Durbar Hall) is the most impressive building, containing a hall dominated by opulent chandeliers and other rooms full of furniture, ornaments, costumes, china crockery and displays on the history of the Nizams. The oldest part is the southern courtyard, where you can visit the two-storeyed Aftab Mahal, which houses more costumes and some intricate wall hangings, as well as the smaller Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal and Tahniyat Mahal. At the rear of the complex, there is a collection of carriages and vintage motorcars, including the canary yellow custom-made Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, made for Nizam, Ali Khan, who was at the time the richest man in the world.
The Khilwat Clock, that sits on the palace grounds at the Khilwat Tower has been ticking for 250 years. Locals in the area use the timings to set their own watches, a tradition in the area since the clocks instalment.
Khilwat Palace © Creative Sam / Shutterstock
Getting to Chowmahalla Palace
Chowmahalla Palace is relatively close to the Old City of Hyderabad, so getting there is easy. You can take a bus from several areas in Abids or simply get a taxi, however, if you opt for a taxi, do make sure to run the meter to avoid steep over-charging. It is always best to book chauffers and taxis with reputable hotels or trusted travel companies to avoid scamming.
Salabat Jung began construction of the palace in 1750 however it was not completed until the period of Afzal ad-Dawlah, Asif Jah V more than a hundred years later between 1857 and 1869. Between 2005 and 2010 the palace was given a restoration under the rule of Princess Esra, who married Prince Mukkaram Jah, a direct heir from the Asaf Jah Dynasty and a Nazim by birth-rights.
Featured Image, Chowmahalla Palace © Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock