Rashmi Gopal Rao
Founded in 1591 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Hyderabad, is a city replete with royal traditions and history. During the early years of the 18th century, India’s biggest and richest princely state was ruled by the Nizams, once the Mughal power came to an end. While the city has grown much beyond its original walled boundaries and is synonymous with a flourishing IT industry, much of the city’s old quarters are steeped in history. Its skyline hosts some of the most fascinating monuments that are examples of Islamic Indian architecture. While the Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Faluknama Palace and Salarjung museum are some of the city’s most famous landmarks, the Chowmahalla Palace remains a gem that is not to be missed when on a visit to the city.
Symbol of Nizam architecture
An evocative piece of Nizam architecture, the Chowmahalla Palace was the official residence of the Nizams while they ruled Hyderabad. Located nearly 2 km from Charminar in the old city, Chowmahalla Palace is a cornucopia of architectural styles and influences ranging from Baroque Harem to Persian to neoclassical royal. The palace, whose name translates into four palaces, remains the property of Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, heir of the Nizams. One of the oldest surviving monuments of the Nizam era, the Chowmahalla Palace, opened to public since 2005, is known for its immaculate style and elegance.
Grandeur and opulence
Spread over 12 acres, the palace consists of two courtyards, the much-celebrated Khilwat Darbar, several fountains and gardens. A visit to the palace transports you to the period of the Nizams. While the southern courtyard is the oldest part of complex and houses four palaces (Tahniyat Mahal, Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal and Aftab Mahal), the northern courtyard was once the administrative headquarters of the palace.
There are several artefacts that have been well preserved in the Hall of Crafts. These include not only furniture but also various handwoven textiles and embroidery crafts that are more than 200 years old, some of which originate from China, Persia and Japan. The Hall of Crockery reflects the celebratory nature of the Nizams and their fine taste in food and dining. The collection of porcelain utensils, crockery and tableware is priceless. Likewise, is the hall that displays weapons from the past.
The highlight of the palace is the Khilwat Mubarak, housing the exquisite darbar hall which was witness to several important events, including the coronation of the VIII Nizam in 1967. It is a picture of splendour with crystal chandeliers, opulent furniture and intricate carvings. The clock tower has been working with precision for the past 251 years!
For all automobile fans, the palace has an enviable collection of vintage cars and carriages that were once used by the Nizams. The fleet has been perfectly maintained with neat display boards for the benefit of visitors. The cynosure of eyes is the 1912 canary yellow Rolls Royce that was recently restored and refurbished to find a place of immense pride within the palace.
- Construction of the Chowmahalla Palace was started in 1750 by Salabat Jung. It was completed during the reign of Afzal ad-Dawlah, Asaf Jah V between 1857 and 1869.
- The palace originally covered an area of 45 acres.
- The palace has been modelled as a replica of the Shah’s Palace in Teheran, Iran.
- The chimes of the clock tower are taken as a standard by the people of the locality even today and watches are adjusted in accordance with the timing of the palace clock.
- The 1912 Rolls Royce of the Nizams was originally built by Barkers of Edinburgh and was sparingly used.
- It covered a distance of only 356 miles in a span of 26 years!
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