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Chowmahalla Palace
Afzal Mahal, Chowmahalla Palace
Chowmahalla Palace is located in Hyderabad
Chowmahalla Palace
Chowmahalla Palace
Location in Hyderabad, Telangana
General information
TypeRoyal Palace
LocationHyderabad, Telangana, India
Coordinates17°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
OwnerAzmet Jah

Chowmahalla Palace or Chowmahallat is the palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad State located in Hyderabad, Telangana, India.[1] It was the seat of power of the Asaf Jahi dynasty (1720-1948) and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad during their reign. Presently the palace is converted into a museum but the ownership still lies with the family.[2]

The palace is constructed at the location of an earlier palace of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty and Asaf Jahi Dynasty[2] close to the Charminar. Construction of the palace as it stands today was started by Nizam Ali Khan Asaf Jah II[3] in 1769. He ordered the building of four palaces from which the nomenclature of Chau Mahalla was acquired.[4] The word chār or chahār, and its variation chow, means "four" and the word mahal means "palace" in Urdu, Hindi and Persian.[5]


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)
Showing Southern Courtyard and Facade of Tehniyat Mahal
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.[6][7]

The palace is unique for its style and elegance. Construction 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 Darbar Hall), fountains and gardens.[8] The palace originally covered 45 acres (180,000 m2), but only 12 acres (49,000 m2) remain today.[9]

Southern Courtyard

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, consisting of four palaces Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Maha built symmetrically opposite to each other in Neoclassical style. The forecourt in-between the palaces is adorned with a pond and a beautiful garden.[2]

The neoclassical palaces have double heighted verandahs or facades lined with European style columns. The columns in the Aftab Mahal and Mehtab Mahal are of Iconic order whereas the Afzal Mahal and Tehniyat Mahal have Corinthian columns.[2]

Northern courtyard

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 such as the ornate stucco works that adorn the Khilwat Mubarak. These were a characteristic 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

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.[10] The 19 spectacular Chandeliers of Belgian crystal were recently reinstalled to recreate the lost splendour of this regal hall.

Clock Tower

The main gateway to the Chowmahalla Palace on the western hand has a clock tower also known as a Khilafat clock. The tower is three storeys high and consists of balconies and jharokha of Mughal style same as the style of half domes.[10] It has been ticking since 1750. An expert family of horologists winds the mechanical clock every week.[11]

Council Hall

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.[citation needed]

Roshan Bangla

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

The former 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 was used by the Nizam Kings.[citation needed]


The displays in the museum depict the origin and evolution of Hyderabad, achievements and valuable contribution of the Nizams towards the development of the state, and the social lifestyle of the royal family.

The museum is divided into parts arranged around two quadrangle courtyards in North and South.[citation needed]


Conservation works were initiated in Chowmahalla Palace from 2000, several conservation architects and experts were involved in more than a decade long journey.[12] The initiative was undertaken by Princess Esra Birgen. Before commencement of the works, the place had fallen into disuse for a prolonged period and had deteriorated over the time. The vision for the restoration project was to rescue the exemplary palatial complex and to establish a contemporary civic use as a museum showcasing the splendour and valour of Nizams.[13]

The restoration process was divided into three stages, first stage involved thorough mapping, a fabric survey, and the development of conservation plans for the buildings' restoration as well as alternative re-use scenarios that might help assess the practicality of these historic buildings. In the second stage, structures that were in danger of collapsing had to be stabilised, and other urgent repairs like waterproofing and propping had to be made to prevent further damage. The complex's physical restoration as well as the addition of amenities to encourage the reuse of these structures were part of the final phase.[14]

In order to preserve the integrity of these ancient structures, their conservation was carried out using traditional craftsmen and techniques, and several building components were saved from demolition.  Many architectural features, including granite arches, elaborate lime plaster work, and terracotta balusters, were restored carefully in their original design in addition to structural repairs and stabilisation.[14] Apart from bringing back the past glory of the palace complex and reviving traditional materials and craftsmanship, the project also created a cultural oasis in the heart of the city.[13]

The project was awarded with a UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation on March 15, 2010.[13] UNESCO representative Takahiko Makino formally handed over the plaque and certificate to Princess Esra, former wife and GPA holder of Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur.[15][16]

See also


  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. ^ a b c d Nayeem, Dr. M.A. (2009). The Royal Palaces of the Nizams. Hyderabad: Hyderabad Publisher. pp. 70–71. ISBN 9788185492261.
  3. ^ "Restoration of the Chowmahallatuu Palace Complex". RMA Architects. 2007. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  4. ^ Nayeem, Dr. M.A. (2009). The Royal Palaces of the Nizam. Hyderabad: Hyderabad Publisher. p. 74. ISBN 9788185492261.
  5. ^ 1 Fatma 2 Srivastva, 1 Tooba 2 Sangita (8 August 2020). "Grandeur of Nizam's Textiles and Clothing at Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad" (PDF). Textiles and Clothing Research Centre e-Journal. 4 (8): 1 – via Tcrc.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Latif, Bilkees I. (2010). forgeten. ISBN 9780143064541. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Chowmahalla Palace grandeur to be restored before monsoon". 26 June 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Restoration Of The Chowmahalla Palace Complex". RMA Architects. Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  9. ^ "Chowmahalla Palace grandeur to be restored before monsoon". The Times of India. 29 May 2018. ISSN 0971-8257. Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  10. ^ a b "The palaces of nizam MA nayeem - Google Search". Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  11. ^ Bhatnagar, Dr Shikha (15 October 2018). Legendary Narratives of Hyderabad. Notion Press. ISBN 978-1-64429-473-4.
  12. ^ "Restoration Of The Chowmahalla Palace Complex". RMA Architects. Retrieved 15 March 2023.
  13. ^ a b c "Awarded Projects". UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved 15 March 2023.
  14. ^ a b Mehrotra, Rahul (15 March 2023). "RESTORATION OF THE CHOWMAHALLA PALACE COMPLEX". RMA Architects.
  15. ^ "UNESCO award for Chowmahalla Palace". 14 March 2011.
  16. ^ "Chowmohalla Palace gets UNESCO award". Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-06.