Chowmahalla Palace

Hyderabad, India | C.1750

Photo Credit: Christopher John

Chowmahalla Palace or Chowmahallatuu, is a palace located in Hyderabad in central India. Dating back to the mid-18th century, it was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad while they ruled the state.

Construction was started in 1750 by Nizam Salabat Jung, ruler of the Hyderabad State in India from 1751 until 1762. It was not completed until 1869 during the period of Afzal ad-Dawlah. Over that 100+ year span of construction, the palace resulted in a synthesis of many architectural styles and influences.

Consisting of two courtyards as well as the grand Khilwat (the Dharbar Hall), fountains and gardens, the palace originally covered 45 acres (180,000 m2) and was the site of all ceremonial functions including the accession of the Nizams and receptions for the Governor-General.

The name Chowmahalla, actually means “four palaces”. The word “char”, and its variation “chau”, means four and the word mahal means “palace” in Urdu and Hindi. It is more likely derived from Farsi words, as it was the official language of the Hyderabad State at the time.

The structure was awarded the UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation in March 2010. Today, it sits on a smaller plot of 12 acres (49,000 m2) and remains the property of Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, heir of the Nizams.

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