Grandeur of rulers, glory of its past, glimpse of their enigmatic way of living, are still alive in the form of palaces like Chowmahalla Palace, a place worth visiting when on a Hyderabad tour.
Built in the 18th century, almost 200 years ago, the Chowmahalla Palace is one of the popular sightseeing places in Hyderabad. The literal meaning of this place is “Four Palaces” with “Chow” means four in Urdu and “Mahalat” which is the plural of “Mahalel” meaning palaces. Chowmahalla palace is said to resemble Shah Palace of Tehran in Iran.
Chowmahalla Palace History
The construction of Chowmahalla Palace was mainly completed between 1857 to 1869 during the rule of fifth Nizam, Afzar-ud-Daulah, Asaf Jav V. However, its building is mostly credited to Nizam Salabat Jang in 1790. The Palace originally covered 45 acres which extended from the Laad Bazaar on the north to the Aspan Chowk Road on the south. Now, the total remained area of the palace is close to 12 acres.
The palace was restored by the Government and was opened to the public in the year of 2005. One can visit the palace throughout the week except on Friday and national holidays.
Chowmahalla Palace Architecture
The Chowmahalla Palace is consisted of two courtyards which are divided into the northern courtyard and the southern courtyard. The southern courtyard of the palace has four palaces which are namely Afzal Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, and Aftab Mahal. The Aftab Mahal is a two storied building and is the biggest of all the four. The northern courtyard which has been open to public, houses Bara Imam, a long corridor with many rooms on the eastern side, which was once the administrative wing. Another captivating feature of this courtyard is the Shishe-Alat. This was used to receive guests and public figures.
The Chowmahalla Palace has Clock Tower, Council Hall and Roshan Bungalow inside it. The Roshan Bungalow has been named after Roshan Begum who was the mother of sixth Nizam. Khilwat Clock, which is famous for ticking since the construction of the palace, can be seen inside the Clock Tower. At the Council Hall, various manuscripts and rare books which were personal collections of the Nizam have been kept.
The heart of the palace is called as Khilwat Mubarak. This grand Durbar hall is undeniably the best part of the palace. Mughal domes, imposing arches and an intricate Persian work create a masterpiece. Inside the Durbar Hall, there is platform made up of marble. It is on this platform where the royal seat, Takht-e-Nishan was laid.
It is said that Chowmahalla Palace used to have around 7000 attendants on any given day. For its grandeur and charm, it has been often compared to the Enchanted Gardens of the Arabian Nights for its grandeur.
Things to Notice at Chowmahalla Palace
Beautiful spread of lawn, its green landscape contrasting the yellow and white motifs of the palace presents a hypnotic sight.
A huge water fountain in front of the palace, with artistically carved pillars is the first thing to offer a peek into the architectural excellence of this Chowmahalla palace.
Intricate carvings on the walls and ceilings of the palace are also worth noticing. Glass chandeliers with different designs in each Mahal are also not to be missed.
Various galleries in the Palace with each presenting an interesting display of crockery, clothes, furniture, coins and currency notes, pictures from the Nizam era, etc. are sure to keep you engaged. Display of weapons has been especially done in an interesting manner; these are displayed not just inside glass cabinet but on the walls as well, reaching till the top.
Quran section showcasing Qurans of various kinds such as hand written Quran which has been restored by using Japanese technique, Naskh script, miniature Qurans printed in metal, some which have been inscribed in gold and many others.
Vintage car and Buggee display is another major attraction of Chowmahalla Palace. A fish motif on a poll, which was gifted by Mughals, is also going to catch your attention.
Another part of the Chowmahalla Palace that draws one’s attention is the Afzal Mahal. Entry to this part of the palace is not allowed. However, there are glass windows and a door through which visitors can see it inside. The hall of the palace which has been maintained as it is, shows us luxuriousness of Nizams lifestyle.
Things to do at Chowmahalla Palace
Exploring at Ease– All over the Palace’s complex many benches with shade of trees have been built for visitors to relax. There is a canteen as well, which offers basic snacks and drinks within the palace compound. Hence, you can admire the architectural excellence of Chowmahalla palace and explore its various galleries without exhausting yourself.
Photography and Photo-walks– With its intricate carvings, impressive structure and well laid-out gardens, this palace is nothing less than a heaven for photographers.
Shopping– The souvenir shop at the palace is ideal for shopping lovers. It presents a wide range of collection comprising of carved decorative items, colourful showpieces with traditional designs and jewellery ranging from bangles, pearl necklaces to earrings, etc. The price range of these items is slightly high yet the collection and exquisiteness of them will allure to buy more than just one. For instance, a small carved metal elephant will cost you around Rs.500 while carved brass plates or camels are priced around Rs.1000 and above.
Chowmahalla Palace Entry fee and Timings
Chowmahalla Palace timings are from 10 AM to 5 PM. It is open on all days of the week except on Friday. It is also closed on national holidays.
Chowmahalla palace entry fee is only Rs.80 per person for Indian visitors while it is Rs. 200 for foreign tourists. Hence you can plan your visit to this majestic palace without shelling out a lot of money.
Photography and videography are also allowed in the palace with an extra charge of Rs.50 and Rs.200 respectively. However, in the Quran section of the Palace, photography or videography is not allowed.
How to reach Chowmahalla Palace
Reaching Chowmahalla Palace is not a difficult task. It is quite close to another popular tourist attraction of Hyderabad – Charminar.
For those travelling by public transports, the Nampally/Hyderabad MMTS station is located nearby. From the station one can hire an auto rickshaw to the palace. There are also many buses running to and fro Nampally at regular intervals.