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.