Chowmahalla Palace

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Chowmahalla Palace
Chowmahalla Palace 01.jpg
Afzal Mahal, Chowmahalla Palace
General information
TypeRoyal Palace
LocationHyderabad, Telangana, India
Coordinates17°21′30″N 78°28′18″E / 17.358247°N 78.471701°E / 17.358247; 78.471701Coordinates: 17°21′30″N 78°28′18″E / 17.358247°N 78.471701°E / 17.358247; 78.471701
Construction started1750
Awards and prizesNational Tourism Award (Best Maintained and Differently abled Friendly Monument), 2017
Original useSeat of the Nizam of Hyderabad
Restored byPrincess Esra
OwnerMukarram Jah

Chowmahalla Palace or Chowmahallat (from chār mahallāt, lit.'Four Palaces' in Dakhini Urdu) is the palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad State in Hyderabad, Telangana, India.[1] 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 was built by Nizam Salabat Jung[2] and remains the property of the Nizam. Some members of the Hyderabadi Nizam family have wed here.[3][4]

The word chār or chahār, and its variation chow, means "four" and the word mahal means "palace" in Urdu, Hindi and Persian.[5] All ceremonial functions including the accession of the Nizams and receptions for the Governor-general were held at this palace.

The UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation was presented to Chowmahalla Palace on 15 March 2010. UNESCO representative Takahiko Makino formally handed over the plaque and certificate to Princess Esra, former wife and GPA holder of Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur.[6][7]


Panoramic view in two parts of the Chowmahalla Palace at Hyderabad, photographed by Deen Dayal in the 1880s; the Charminar and Mecca Masjid are seen in the background (far right)
Drawing Room of Chowmahela Palace

While Salabat Jung initiated its construction in 1750, it was completed by the period of Afzal ad-Dawlah, Asaf Jah V between 1857 and 1869.[8][9]

The palace is unique for its style and elegance. Construction of the palace began in the late 18th century and over the decades a synthesis of many architectural styles and influences emerged. The palace consists of two courtyards as well as the grand Khilwat (the Dharbar Hall), fountains and gardens. The palace originally covered 45 acres (180,000 m2), but only 12 acres (49,000 m2) remain today.

The palace was restored between 2005 and 2010 under the patronage of Princess Esra.[10][11]

Southern Courtyard[edit]

Chowmahalla Palace interior with chandeliers
Watch Tower gate of Chowmahalla Palace
Ornate with intricate stucco work, this is one of the two windows that flank the facade of the durbar hall

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.

Northern courtyard[edit]

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.

It has Mughal domes and arches and many Persian elements like the ornate stucco work that adorn the Khilwat Mubarak. These were characteristics of buildings built in Hyderabad at the time.

Opposite the Bara Imam is a building that is its shishe or mirror image. The rooms were once used as guest rooms for officials accompanying visiting dignitaries.

Khilwat Mubarak[edit]

This is heart of Chowmahalla Palace. It is held in high esteem by the people of Hyderabad, as it was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. The grand pillared Durbar Hall has a pure marble platform on which the Takht-e-Nishan or the royal seat was laid. Here the Nizams held their durbar and other religious and symbolic ceremonies. The 19 spectacular Chandeliers of Belgium crystal recently reinstalled to recreate the lost splendor of this regal hall.

Clock Tower[edit]

The clock above the main gate to Chowmahalla Palace is affectionately called Khilwat Clock. It has been ticking away since 251 years. An expert family of horologists winds the mechanical clock every week.

Council Hall[edit]

This building housed a rare collection of manuscripts and priceless books. The Nizam often met important officials and dignitaries here. Today it is a venue for temporary exhibitions from the treasures of the Chowmahalla Palace Collection of the bygone era.

Roshan Bangla[edit]

The Sixth Nizam, Mir Mahbub Ali Khan, is believed to have lived here and the building was named after his mother Roshan Begum.

The present Nizam (Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah) and his family decided to restore the Chowmahalla Palace and open it to the public in January 2005. It took over 5 years to document and restore the palaces of the first courtyard to its former glory. The palace also has a collection of vintage cars, including the Rolls-Royce, which were used by the Nizam Kings.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jayyusi, Salma K.; Holod, Renata; Petruccioli, Attilio; Raymond, Andre (2008). The City in the Islamic World, Volume 94/1 & 94/2. BRILL. pp. 605–609. ISBN 978-9004162402.
  2. ^ "Restoration of the Chowmahallatuu Palace Complex". RMA Architects. 2007. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Photos - Grand Wedding Ceremony of Sahebzadi Feroze Jahan Begum-Syed Abbas Ali at Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad".
  5. ^ "Decline of Farsi language - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  6. ^ "UNESCO award for Chowmahalla Palace". 14 March 2011.
  7. ^ "Chowmohalla Palace gets UNESCO award". Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
  8. ^ Latif, Bilkees I. (2010). forgeten. ISBN 9780143064541. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  9. ^ "Chowmahalla Palace grandeur to be restored before monsoon". 26 June 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Princess To The Rescue". Outlook India. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  11. ^ "Renovated Afzal Mahal basks in glory". The Hindu. 30 October 2008. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 17 October 2018.

External links[edit]

  • The lost world: article by William Dalrymple about the last Nizam of Hyderabad and the restoration of Chowmahalla Palace
  • Travel guide issued by Authority: The Administrator, H.E.H The Nizam's Private Estate