About Chowmahalla Palace
Built between 1857 and 1869 in Hyderabad, the Chowmahalla Palace is almost 200 years old and was once the official seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. Now, it is one of the major tourist destinations in Hyderabad, and is known for its magnificent architecture and awe-inspiring beauty. For history and art lovers, the palace is an unmissable destination, what with its historical significance and rich heritage.
The name of the palace literally means “Four Palaces”. Chow means four and Mahalat is the plural of Mahalel, which means palaces in Urdu. The magnificent palace acted as the official residence of many Nizams of Hyderabad during the time they ruled the city, and people often say that it resembles the Shah Palace in Tehran, in Iran.
The palace grounds are massive, and it has two huge courtyards with a magnificent dining hall which is known as Khilawat. The palace is still registered as the property of Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, who is considered as the heir of Nizams. Chowmahalla Palace was decorated with the Asia Pacific Merit award in 2010 by UNESCO.
One of the most impressive things about the palace is its imposing architecture. The façade is made of an intricate network of beautiful domes, large windows, dramatic arches and delicately carved out designs. The grounds of the palace feature lush green gardens, marvelous fountains, and numerous smaller palaces. There is a Clock Tower, Roshan Bangla, and Council Hall here.
The palace features some of the most renowned buildings in Hyderabad. The royal seat was laid in Khilwat Mubarak and this is where the court proceedings of the Nizam took place. The administrative wing, also known as Bara Imam offers some of the most impressive views of the palace gardens.
The architecture of the palace takes heavily after Persian, Rajasthani, Indo-Saracenic, and European styles. All four palaces within the complex - Aftab Mahal, Afzal Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Mahtab Mahal are worth checking out.
The palace construction started in 1750, under the orders of Salabat Jung, and the whole complex was finished during the reign of Afzal ad Dawlah, Asaf Jah V, who was the fifth Nizam of Hyderabad and ensured the construction completed in 1969.
After its construction was finished, the palace became the main residence of the Nawabs of Hyderabad. They started holding royal court at the palace soon, and the center for all major tournaments and activities related to the Nizam rule. Festivals and ceremonies were held in the Chowmahalla palace on a regular basis, and the Nizam hosted several welcome parties here for his esteemed guests.
The palace was also used as a stopover for Grand Khilafat, and would often be used as a guesthouse by other royal family members. It is said that the architecture, design, and layout of the palace is heavily influenced by Juveria Khan Rahimullah.
How to Reach Chowmahalla Palace
From Hyderabad Bus Stand-
Chowmahalla Palace is located right in the heart of the city, and is very easy to access via various public transportation systems.
The nearest bus stand is the Nampally/Hyderabad MMTS bus stand. You can easily take a local bus from the main bus stand to Nampally, since local buses run between the two location on frequent intervals on a daily basis. Once you have reached here, you can hire a taxi or auto rickshaw to get to the palace. You can also get a direct taxi from the bus stand, if you want to travel comfortably and don’t mind spending the money for it.
Best Time to Visit Chowmahalla Palace
Although the palace can be visited throughout the year, as it is open everyday except Fridays and national holidays, we recommend planning your visit during the spring months, that is, between July and October. This is because the weather is much more pleasant during this time and you will be able to witness the beauty of the lush green palace gardens in their full glory during these months.
During the summer months, that is, between April and June, the weather gets quite hot and it will become extremely comfortable to take long walks in the halls and gardens of the palace. You can certainly plan your visit during winters, but the gardens won’t be in bloom during this time.
That is why we recommend checking out the palace during the spring season.
What Not to Miss at Chowmahalla Palace
Places to Visit near Chowmahalla Palace
1. Charminar – also known as the Arc de Triomphe of the East, Charminar is intricately designed with four towers on each of its corners. All the towers are nearly 50 meters high and has four storeys. There is also a small mosque at the top that you can visit. In the evenings, minar looks quite mesmerizing with colorful lighting.
2. Golconda Fort – the architectural marvel is located just 11 km away from the main city and stands impressively tall with its 8 gates and 87 bastions. The walls of the fort are each 15 to 18-foot-high, and have brilliantly designed elements. There is also a light and sound show held in the evenings, voiced by the Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, which is simply unmissable.
3. Ramoji Film City – listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, the film city is spread over 2500 acres and is one of the largest studios in the world. In its golden age, the city had the capacity to hold nearly 50 film units. The brilliant design, magnificent architecture, and technical advancements of this place are worth checking out at least once.
4. Hussain Sagar Lake – Hussain Sagar is the largest artificial lake in Asia, and it is a tributary of the Musi river. The main attraction near the lake, besides its natural splendor, is the 16 m high statue of Lord Buddha that has been made entirely of white granite, and is situated right in the middle of the lake. The light and music show near the statue is worth enjoying, and you can easily do that by taking a ferry ride to the statue.
5. Birla Mandir - located on the 280-foot-high hill named Kalapahad, the Birla mandir is built with white marble that was imported from Rajasthan. The architecture of the building borrows elements from South India, Rajasthani, and Utkal architectural styles. The temples features a statue of Lord Lakshmi Narayana and is quite popular among tourists.
Other Essential Information About Chowmahalla Palace
Location : Khilwat, 20-4-236, Motigalli,, Hyderabad, Telangana, 500002, India
Timings : 10 am to 5 pm, open every day except Fridays
Entry fee : The fee is only INR 80 per person if they are of the Indian nationality, but for foreigners, the fee is INR 200 per person. The fee for children is only INR 10. And if you want to take in your camera for still photography, you have to pay an extra INR 50. If you want to make videos with a handheld, the extra charge is INR 100.
Note : It should be noted that photography and videography is not allowed in the Quran section of the palace, even if you have paid the extra prices.
Visitor's Facility : There are many facilities available within the palace grounds. Restrooms are clean and dry, and available for both men and women. There is a small canteen offering some delicious and healthy snacks, and there are also some benches in the park that have been strategically places so that the visitors can take a break from all the walking around. Additionally, the compound itself is quite clean and well-maintained.
Parking Facility : The Chowmahalla palace complex has plenty of facilities for its visitors. Specifically, when it comes to parking, the palace complex has a huge open area right as you enter the main gate. This entire area can be used for parking your vehicles.Distance from Hyderabad bus stand : The palace is located just 3.2 km away from Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station. It will take you only 10 minutes to reach the palace from the bus stand.
Architecture of Chowmahalla Palace
The palace is inclusive of two courtyards, and they are divided into northern and southern wings, the four palaces are located in the southern courtyard.
The palace architecture is heavily inspired by Persian and Rajasthani elements, and also offers a unique blend of Indo-Saracenic and European motifs. The original palace grounds were spread over a vast 45 acres, but now it is limited to 12 acres. The northern courtyard of the palace is open to the public, and features the administrative wing, the Bara Imam corridor. This courtyard also has another magnificent structure, the Shishe-Alat, which was used as a guesthouse for received nobility back in the day.
The heart of the palace is known as Khilawat Mubarak, and it is the most illustrious portion of this building. With imposing arches, dramatic Mughal domes, and Persian sculpting – the Durbar hall is a true masterpiece in architecture. Inside the hall, there is a platform made of marble on which the royal seat, called Takht-e-Nishan was laid down.Delicate carvings, beautiful ceilings, glass chandeliers – the architectural magnificence of the palace needs to be seen to be believed. Because of the splendor and ornate beauty of the palace, it is often compared to the Enchanted Gardens of Arabian Nights.
Structures inside Chowmahalla Palace
Here are the most important structures inside the northern courtyard of the palace:
1. Khilwat Mubarak – The hall at Khilwat houses the royal seat of the house of Nizam, also known as Takht-e-Nishan. The royal proceedings of the Nizam court would also take place here. Nowadays, the hall houses a number of Belgian chandeliers.
2. Clock Tower – Featuring the Khilwat Clock that has been running for the last 251 years, the clock tower’s upkeep is under the guidance of an army of clock mechanics who keep the clock running.
3. Council Hall – You will find a huge collection of manuscripts and books in the Council hall. The hall acted as a destination for the Nizam to host any visitors or important dignitaries, but now it hosts a collection of relics from the palace collection.
4. Bara Imam – This is a long corridor with rooms that overlook the fountains, pools, and gardens of the palace. Located in the northern courtyard, this place used to serve as a guesthouse.The southern courtyard also has some important structures – like the Afzal Mahal with its intricate carvings and majestic pillars, Mahtab and Tahniyat Mahals with their white stone surfaces, and Aftab Mahal which features elements of neo-classical architecture.
Heritage Library in Chowmahalla Palace
The heritage library is the latest addition to the Chowmahalla palace, and it houses nearly 10,000 books. The most precious items in the library include the personal collections of 2 Nizams of Hyderabad - VII Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan and VI Nizam Mir Mahbub Ali Khan. With a warm and vintage décor, the library is a huge hit among tourists because of its modern furniture, stunning paintings, and realistic portraits that were originally the property of the Nizams.
You can find priceless manuscripts here in various languages, like, English, Persian, Urdu and Arabic. You can also find books that are hundreds of years old on a variety of subjects, like medicine, geography, poetry, Islam, history, and literature.
Interesting Facts about Chowmahalla Palace
1. In Persian-Arabic, the name “ Chowmahalla” stands for 4 palaces.
2. The palace acted as the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad.
3. The palace is believed to be modelled after the palace of the Shah of Iran in Tehran.
4. The palace features elements of Persian, Rajasthani, Indo-Saracenic and European styles of architecture.
5. Nowadays, the palace has been converted into a museum for displaying exhibits related to its time.
6. The palace was originally spread over 45 acres, but now it is limited to 14 acres.
7. The southern courtyard features a 1912 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost that was owned by the Nizam.
8. The heart of the palace is Khilwat Mubarak and it is one of the most beautiful places in the palace.
9. The clock in the Clock Tower has been running for nearly 250 years.10. The palace has 2 courtyards featuring fountains, gardens, and beautiful palaces.
Places to Eat near Chowmahalla Palace
1. Matwale Doodh Ghar : This is a small shop near the palace, offering some of the best desserts, lassis, and faloodas in the city. Famous for its delicious food that will not burn a hole in your pocket, the beloved shop is popular among tourists as well as locals.
2. Pistas House : The restaurant is so popular that additional people have to be employed to keep up with customer demand during the holiday season. The entire menu at this place is unparalleled, and every foodie in Hyderabad and beyond should check this place out.
3. Akbar Fast Food Corner : This small restaurant located near the Charminar is the most beloved chicken joint in the city. But that’s not all this place has to offer you can get all types of filling and tasty snacks here.
4. Hotel Shadab : This is one of the oldest restaurants in the city, and it is extremely famous for its finger-licking good biryani. Along with that, you can also enjoy some really great Deccani cuisine.5. Milan Juice Center : The summers can be especially tiring in Hyderabad, and the heat can make you dehydrated and thirsty before you know it. That is why, Milan Juice Center is your one-stop destination for quenching your thirst in the most delicious way possible.
Things to keep in mind before visiting Chowmahalla Palace
1. Here are some things to keep in mind so that your trip to the palace is unforgettable, enjoyable and comfortable:
2. The palace is quite large, so it is recommended to carry some water with you.
3. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, so that you don’t feel uncomfortable taking a walk through the huge palace grounds.
4. Visit the palace as early in the day as possible, so that you don’t have to worry about hordes of tourists.
5. Make sure you check out the light and music show held near the fountain.
6. The various galleries within the palace offer a large display of clothes, furniture, crockery etc from the Nizam era.
7. Do check out the old heritage library if you are interested in looking at the portraits and paintings from the golden age of Hyderabad.
8. There is a Rolls Royce parked in the palace which is owned by one of the Nizams. It is one of the major attractions of this place.
9. Make sure you take your camera along with you so that you can capture all the splendor and magnificence around you.