Chowmahalla palace was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderbad while they ruled the state. It was the seat of the Asif Jahi dynasty. The Asif Jahi dynasty came to India in the late 17th century and they served under the Mughals. They were referred to as Nizams. They ruled Hyderbad on behalf of Mughals. After the death of Aurangzeb, Nizams declared themselves as independent rulers. They ruled Hyderbad even when the British took over India.
In Persian, ‘chahar’ means four and in Arabic ‘mahalat’ (plural of mahal) means palace. Hence, the name Chowmahalla palace. The Chowmahalla palace is a complex of four palaces with a central pond.
Though the construction of the palace was started by the Nizam Salabat Jung in 1750, it was completed only in 1857-1869 during the rule of Nizam Afzar ud- Dawlah Bahadur, Asaf Jah V.
It is believed to be modeled on Shah of Iran’s palace in Tehran.
Intricate stucco work on the pillars and ceilings inside Durbar hall
The palace consists of two courtyards-Northern and Southern. These courtyards have elegant palaces, the grand Khilwat/ darbar hall, fountains and gardens. Originally the palace is believed to have covered an area of 45 acres of which only 12 acres remains today.
The Durbar hall
The eye-catching element of the palace is the Khilwat Mubarak/ the Durbar hall which is ornate with stunning stucco work of Persian origin. This grand pillared durbar hall has pure marble platform on which the royal seat was laid. It is here the Nizams held their durbar and other ceremonies. The hall has 19 spectacular Belgian Crystal Chandeliers.
The Belgian Chandeliers
The clock tower found within the complex is affectionately called as Khilwat clock. It has been ticking away for around 250 years.
The Clock Tower
The palace was restored to its’ former glory by the first wife of the present Nizam in 2005 and it took over five years to complete this restoration.
Patterned tile work
It’s definitely worth the visit when one is visiting the old city in Hyderabad and wants to spend some quiet time away from the chaos around Charminar.