Chowmahalla Palace in the Indian City of Hyderabad is a true epitome of grandeur and elegance of the Nizams who ruled the city. It has served as the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad state during their reign and remains the property of their heir. The palace has been a seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty over 200 years where the Nizams hosted their official guests and royal visitors.
Chowmahalla Palace is at a walkable distance from the iconic Charminar. After a scrumptious lunch devouring the Hyderabadi biryani close to Charminar we sauntered our way through the laad bazaar (this famous local market is best to indulge in some shopping spree) to Chowmahalla palace. Our expectation wasn’t much after visiting the Purani Haveli museum which though had some interesting exhibits wasn’t well maintained.
We bought tickets at the entrance of the Northern courtyard. More details on here. We strolled through a long corridor dotted with rooms called the Bara Imam. These rooms are said to be guest rooms for the officials visiting the Nizams. Few of these rooms today house small cafes and souvenir shops.
The construction of the palace was initiated in the year 1750 and was completed by 1869. During this span of time, numerous expansion of the palace took place adding features from different architectural styles like Persian, Rajasthani and European styles. The facade of the corridor is punctuated with beautiful arches embellished with artwork and roofs bedecked with cenotaphs. Chowmahalla Palace is said to resemble Shah Palace of Tehran in Iran. For us some parts of the palace especially the Khilwat Mubarak was a reminiscence of the Versailles palace we visited in France.
On the opposite side, is the mirror image building of Bara Iman called Shishe-Alat and is dotted with rooms in a similar way. At the center of the courtyard sits a pool punctuated by three beautiful fountains with exquisite designs on its pillars. The cannons sit at the corners of the pool.
On the west of the palace is the clock tower housing the 250-year-old clock called Khilwat Clock in a working condition. A family of skillful clock repairers has been winding the mechanical clock every week.
The first view of the grandiose facade of the palace entranced us with its striking magnificence and remarkable stucco work. It piqued our curiosity to unfurl the splendor hidden behind the mystical curtains falling over the seven arches of the palace facade. A rapt moment was in store ahead!
The sheer opulence of the majestic hall is an astounding peek into the past glory and the lavish lifestyle of the Nizams. A walk through the immaculate marble flooring flanked by the pillars will walk you back in time. The arches, the ceilings and the walls decorated with intricate Persian work and the nineteen dazzling ornate Belgian crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling recreate the splendor of the durbar hall of the time when the royalty of Asaf Jahi Dynasty addressed the visitors.
The pure marble royal seat or the Takht-e-Nishan of the Nizams sits at one end of the hall. The religious and royal ceremonies held by the Nizams amidst the resplendent glory must have been one of its kind engrossing the visitors in the Nawabi charm.
The side rooms of the hall hold exhibit offering insight into the history of Chowmahalla Palace and the Nizams.
Hall of Crafts
A tour of the exclusive collection of Nizams personal possessions starts at the ‘Hall of Craft’ where an exhibition of the crockery items, handpainted artifacts, handwoven textiles, beautifully carved tables exemplifies the skillful craftsmanship and tasteful indulgence of the royal family in local handicrafts.
Hall of Arts
The ‘Hall of Arts’ displays pictures of the various Nizams. The windows of the hall offer an impressive view of the beautiful spread of lawn behind the palace.
We couldn’t stop ourselves from clicking few more pictures of the grand Khilwat Mubarak from the first-floor museums.
The corridor at the rear exit of the palace was lined with several wooden cupboards possessed by the royal clan of the Nizams.
And as you walk wondering at the age-old dusty wooden cabins have a look at the ceiling to be bedazzled by the extensive work of art in yellow and white colors. Beautiful patterns adorn the arches of the corridor.
At end of the corridor is an armor display exhibiting Sword, dagger, Afghan Churas, Khanjars, Jambiyas with hilts adorned in stones, crystals, gold, and silver. The armory arranged in an appealing pattern was interesting to behold. The rifles were kept in an enclosed glass cabinet while the swords and the daggers were arranged on the wall reaching up to the ceiling. Even here the ceiling had some beautiful artwork done.
Assuming this to be the end of the display we enquired with the guard only be ushered towards Southern courtyard behind the garden. The southern courtyard built in the neo-classical style is the oldest part of the palace and has four palaces Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal.
The Aftab Mahal displays the lavish textiles belonging to the royal family of the Nizams. Apart from the wonderful metallic embroidery work of gold and silver, the fabrics were studded with precious stones, diamonds, and pearls. Also on display are the Vintage cars and Buggies. The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost car of the Nizam made to order in 1912 is the main attraction of the exhibit. The car is said to be adorned with gold mountings and silver finish originally.
The last part of the Chowmahalla Palace tour is the Afzal Mahal. The entry into this hall was not allowed though we could peek through the glass windows and the one central door kept open for a quick glance at the sumptuous life of the Nizams.
There is also a Quran section you will find on the way back towards the main palace. The room exhibits various kinds of Quran some hand-written, the miniature Qurans printed in metal and some with gold inscriptions.
Today the grandeur of the bygone era of the Nizams can be relived again as the hall is available for hosting ceremonies, events and special dinners parties for corporate people as well as individuals. The aura of the palace will be lit up in golden lights and dressed in best of the opulent colors. Attending one such party would be a dream, isn’t it?
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