Located in the heart of Hyderabad, the Chowmahalla Palace is a magnificent edifice that once served as the seat of power of the rulers of Asaf Jahi dynasty. It was in this palace that the Asaf Jahis, more popularly known as the Nizams, resided during their reign over the region. Even today, the essence of those glorious days is alive in this splendid 19th-century palace that boasts of awesome architectural beauty. The building, which is currently the property of the heir of Nizams, is also open for public viewing.

All these and more make the palace a prime tourist place to explore once you step out of your hotels in Hyderabad. Here’s everything you should know about the Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad, including its history, architecture, timings, entry fee, and other interesting facts.

Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad Information:

Location Khilwat, Motigalli
Type Royal Palace
Timings 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; closed on Fridays
Entry Fee ₹ 80 for Indians; ₹ 10 for children (below 12 years); ₹ 200 for foreign nationals
Still Camera ₹ 50; tripods are not allowed
Video Camera ₹ 200
Commissioned by Salabat Jung
Construction Started 1750
Construction Completed 1857 to 1869
Restored 2005 to 2010
Restored by Princess Esra
Current Owner Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, the titular Nizam of Hyderabad

Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad: History

It was Salabat Jung, the fourth Nizam of Hyderabad, who commissioned the construction of the Chowmahalla Palace way back in 1750. After more than 100 years, the construction was finally completed between 1857 and 1869 during the rule of Afzal ad-Dawlah, the fifth Nizam of Hyderabad. This palace became the official home of the Nizams as well as the

location where they held their royal court. Festive ceremonies, royal weddings, and parties for welcoming royal guests, including Governor Generals, were also hosted here. Even the accession ceremonies of the Nizams were held at the Chowmahalla Palace.

The palace was restored over a period of five years, from 2005 to 2010, by Princess Esra, the wife of Prince Mukarram Jah.

Chowmahalla Palace Architecture

The grand Chowmahalla Palace, one of the top historical places in Hyderabad, epitomizes spectacular architecture. Due to its long period of construction, the palace reflects influences of many architectural elements, including Persian, European, Indo-Saracenic, and Rajasthani styles. It is believed that the edifice draws inspiration from the Shah of Iran’s palace located in Tehran. Initially, the structure was spread across 45 acres, but at present, it stands at just 12 acres.

The palace is also known for its spellbinding structural design. It comprises of two courtyards, lush gardens, and splendid fountains. The Southern Courtyard comprises of four palaces, which led to the name of Chowmahalla which literally means ‘Four Palaces’. ‘Chow’ is derived from the Hindi word char, meaning four, and ‘mahalla’ means palace. The four palaces are known as Afzal Mahal, Aftab Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, and Tahniyat Mahal. Each of these palaces features the neo-classical style of architecture.

The Northern Courtyard of the palace comprises the Bara Imam, a long passage with a series of rooms that were once used as the administrative wing of the palace complex. Shishe-Alat, which means the mirror image, is another stunning structure that stands opposite the Bara Imam. It is decorated with ornate arches, Mughal-style domes, and ornate stucco work.    

The imposing Khilwat or Durbar Hall is one of the main structures of the Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad. It is an elaborate pillared hall where the Nizams held their royal court. The royal seat or the Takht-e-Nishan can be seen in this hall even today. Intricately carved out designs adorn the palace all throughout.       

Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad: Today

The palace is currently owned by Mir Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, who serves as the present titular Nizam of Hyderabad. It was opened to public visits in January 2005 and it has been one of the top tourist places to visit in Hyderabad ever since. In 2010, the palace received UNESCO’s Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation.

A number of events are held at the palace regularly, in continuation of the traditions of the Nizams. The Chowmahalla Music and Dance Festival is a very popular annual fest organized at the palace. Soulful qawallis and amazing dance performances are among the main attractions of this festival.

Things to See in the Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad

The palace complex comprises of a number of buildings and structures. The things to see in Chowmahalla Palace include:

  • Khilwat Mubarak, the grand Durbar Hall of the Nizams where the royal court and other ceremonies were held
  • Southern Courtyard comprising of the four palaces, named Afzal Mahal, Aftab Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, and Tanhiyat Mahal.
  • Northern Courtyard containing the Bara Imam and the Shishe-Alat
  • Clock Tower or the Khilwat Clock that resides above the main gate of the palace
  • The Council Hall housing a treasured collection of priceless books and rare manuscripts
  • Roshan Bangla, the residence of Mir Mahbub Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad
  • A souvenir shop where you can purchase colorful and carved items, showpieces, jewelry, etc.

Lesser-known Facts about Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad

  • The palace boasts of a fleet of vintage cars that were used by the Nizams. This includes the 1912 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.
  • The Khilawat clock placed above the main gate of the palace has been functioning for more than 250 years now. Every week, this mechanical clock is winded to keep it ticking.
  • The Durbar Hall of the palace contains 19 mesmerizing Belgian Chandeliers that were recently added to bring back some of the lost splendor of this royal hall.

Attractions near Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad

  • Char Kaman (700 m)
  • Gulzar Houz (1 km)
  • Laad Bazar (1 km)
  • Charminar (1.4 km)
  • Mecca Masjid (1.5 km)
  • Nizam Museum (2 km)
  • Salar Jung Museum (2.2 km)
  • ISKCON Temple (4.5 km)
  • Nehru Zoological Park (5 km)
  • Koti Residency (5.1 km)
  • Toli Masjid (5.6 km)

Once you are done exploring the Chowmahalla Palace, you can continue to explore the other tourist and historical places in Hyderabad. A few minutes’ walk from the palace will take you to the iconic Charminar and the buzzing market and food street nearby. And finally, do not forget to relish the famous Hyderabadi Biryani at one of the top restaurants in Hyderabad.