Chowmohalla Palace: Glimpse into a royal past👑

The Chowmohalla Palace is a prominent tourist attraction in all Hyderabad itineraries. It is a glimpse into the grandiose lifestyle of the erstwhile Nizams who ruled the land. A chance for the common man to be in awe of the wealth and possessions of the rich overlords. The minute I entered the vast wooden gates, it was bliss – so much free space within the four walls and greenery – soothing and calm; and I had not entered any of the palace buildings yet.

The space is awe inspiring because the palace is located in the old Hyderabad city near the Charminar, predominantly a Muslim area with narrow roads and streets jam packed with shops, people and space is a luxury. After navigating the throngs of people, vehicles and hawkers on the road side, you enter the Chowmohalla Palace, a stone’s throw from the melee outside, but cut off from the noise and bustle, set amidst the high walls is green open space with trees and water fountains. The Nizams indeed lived in opulent comfort 💰. And astonishingly, what stands today as the palace grounds is less than half of the original acreage of the palace🤔.

After gawking at the huge wooden gates at the entrance, we proceed along the colonnaded verandah of a building surrounding the garden and pool. And on the opposite side as a mirror image, there is the same set of buildings running parallel. These were supposed to be guest rooms for officials accompanying dignitaries and admin quarters.

The colonnaded verandah of a building surrounding the garden and pool at Chowmohalla Palace, Hyderabad
The colonnaded verandah of a building surrounding the garden and pool at Chowmohalla Palace, Hyderabad

Along the way in this building is a studio where you can dress up as a Nizam and Princess and get your photos taken. We pass. But the arches of the building provide the perfect frame for the scenery outside👇.

An arch framing the garden and pool and the opposite building running as mirror images at the Chowmohalla Palace, Hyderabad
An arch framing the garden and pool and the opposite building running as mirror images at the Chowmohalla Palace, Hyderabad

The Chowmohalla Palace was built by Nizam Salabat Jung in 1756 and it houses four palaces – Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal. But the first imposing building we are heading to is the Khilwat Mubarak which houses the Durbar Hall where the royal ceremonies and darbars were held. 

Khilwat Mubarak at the Chowmohalla Palace in Hyderabad
Khilwat Mubarak at the Chowmohalla Palace in Hyderabad

Inside the Durbar Hall, the picture below is probably the most photographed in the Chowmohalla palace – the dusty crystal chandeliers still imposing and say – “imagine us during the heyday” !! Also seen in the hall is the marble platform on which the Nizams were seated and held their durbar.

Chandliers in the Durbar Hall
Chandliers in the Durbar Hall

Below is a paining of the above Durbar hall in full attendance👇. The Asaf Jahi dynasty ruled Hyderabad and the last crowned Asaf Jah was the 8th Nizam – Asaf Jah VIII -Mukarram Jah Bahadur. The Chowmahalla Palace had fallen into ruins, once the royals moved out and subsequently it has been restored for public viewing under the leadership of Princess Esra – the first wife of the 8th Nizam.  There are many black and white photographs of the couple on the walls.

Paining of the Durbar hall in full attendance
Paining of the Durbar hall in full attendance

A staircase on the side leads to upper rooms with displays of old royal furniture, crockery, paintings. The open windows bring in pigeons whose droppings mess up the place. There are barricades put up on the palace walls to prevent the pigeons, but they manage to sneak in and cause damage. Can you spot a pigeon on one of the paintings below?

Paintings on the first floor of the Khilwat Mubarak
Paintings on the first floor of the Khilwat Mubarak
Old Royal furniture on the first floor of the Khilwat Mubarak
Old Royal furniture on the first floor of the Khilwat Mubarak
Backyard from the first floor of the Khilwat Mubarak
Backyard from the first floor of the Khilwat Mubarak

As you step outside the Khilwat Mubarak, you see a large gate with a clock – imposing and majestic.

Clock Gate at the Chowmohalla Palace, Hyderabad
Clock Gate at the Chowmohalla Palace, Hyderabad

A quick glimpse into the four palaces in the compound – Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal. They are a disappointment as they remain closed and viewing is from the outside only. And right at the back of the compound is the vintage car collection of the Nizam – Rolls Royce, Packard, Cadillac and more.

Afzal Mahal at Chowmohalla Palace
Afzal Mahal at Chowmohalla Palace
The marble statue at the Afzal Mahal at Chowmohalla Palace
The marble statue at the Afzal Mahal at Chowmohalla Palace
Aftab Mahal at Chowmohalla Palace
Aftab Mahal at Chowmohalla Palace
A completely closed Mahtab Mahal in the Chowmahalla Palace
A completely closed Mahtab Mahal in the Chowmahalla Palace
Tahniyat Mahal at Chowmohalla Palace
Tahniyat Mahal at Chowmohalla Palace

Closed on Fridays, Chowmohalla Palace is worth a visit, though being looked after, there is the all around signs of neglect and decay; but still majestic !!

Till next post, take care !!

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