The Chowmahalla Palace, also known as Chowmahallat (meaning four Palaces), was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad and was used for all ceremonial functions including the accession of the new Nizams and the royal weddings.
The Palace construction was initiated by Salabat Jung in 1750 and was completed by Afzal-ad-Dawlah Bahadur in 1869. The Palace has been modelled on the same lines as the Shah of Iran’s Palace in Tehran. It covered 45 acres of land earlier, out of which only 14 acres remain.
The Chowmahalla Palace is known for its unique style and elegance. The architecture has been influenced by different styles. It consists of two courtyards (southern and northern) which have beautiful palaces, the Durbar Hall, fountains and well laid out gardens.
The southern courtyard is the oldest part of the Palace and has four Palaces namely Mahtab Mahal, Aftab Mahal, Afzal Mahal and Tahniyat Mahal. All these Palaces are built in the Neo - classical style. The northern courtyard has the Bara Imam which is a long corridor of rooms facing the central fountain and pool. This was the administrative wing of the Nizams. The Bara Imam has Mughal inspired domes and arches with Persian stucco work. Opposite this is the Shishe-Alat (mirror). These rooms were used as guest rooms for royal officials and visiting dignitaries.
Khilwat Mubarak is the heart of the Palace. This was the Durbar Hall of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. The grand hall has huge pillars and a marble platform on which the royal throne (Takht-e-Nishan) was kept. This hall was used by the Nizams to carry out all religious and symbolic ceremonies. Nineteen extravagant Belgian crystal chandeliers have been recently installed to recreate the Nizam splendour. The building also has a rare collection of priceless books and manuscripts. Today this hall is used for temporary exhibitions to revive the treasures of the Chowmahalla Mahal.
Another building in the Palace is called the Roshan Bangla which was home to the 6th Nizam. He named the building after his mother Begum Roshan. The clock above the main gate of the Palace is known as the Khilwat Clock. The clock has been ticking for over 250 years and is wound by expert clock repairers every week.
Barkat Ali Khan Mukkarram Jah, the present Nizam has restored the Chowmahalla Palace and opened it for tourists. The documentation and restoration work took 5 years to complete. It is an elegant monument with lush green gardens and fountains.