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Chowmahalla Palace information
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Chowmahalla Palace

Chowmahalla Palace or Chowmahallatuu (4 Palaces), is a palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad state. It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad while they ruled their state. The palace was built by Nizam Salabat Jung. The palace remains the property of Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, heir of the Nizams. The place is named chowmahalla, which 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. All ceremonial functions including the accession of the Nizams and receptions for the Governor-General were held at this palace. The palace is located in the old city in Hyderabad near the Charminar. The UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation was presented to Chowmahalla Palace on 15 March 2010. UNESCO representative Takahiko Makino formally handed over the plaque and certificate to Princess Esra, former wife and GPA holder of Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur. While Salabat Jung initiated its construction in 1750, it was completed by the period of Afzal ad-Dawlah, Asaf Jah V between 1857 and 1869. The palace is unique for its style and elegance. Building of the palace began in the late 18th century and over the decades a synthesis of many architectural styles and influences emerged. The palace consists of two courtyards as well as he grand Khilwat (the Dharbar Hall), fountains and gardens. The palace originally covered 45 acres (180,000 m2), but only 12 acres (49,000 m2) remain today. The palace was restored between 2005 and 2010 under the patronage of Princess Esra. This is the oldest part of the palace, and has four palaces Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal. It was built in the neo-classical style. This part has Bara Imam, a long corridor of rooms on the east side facing the central fountain and pool that once housed the administrative wing and Shishe-Alat, meaning mirror image. It has Mughal domes and arches and many Persian elements like the ornate stucco work that adorn the Khilwat Mubarak. These were characteristic of buildings built in Hyderabad at the time. Opposite the Bara Imam is a building that is its shishe or mirror image. The rooms were once used as guest rooms for officials accompanying visiting dignitaries. This is heart of Chowmahalla Palace. It is held in high esteem by the people of Hyderabad, as it was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. The grand pillared Durbar Hall has a pure marble platform on which the Takht-e-Nishan or the royal seat was laid. Here the Nizams held their durbar and other religious and symbolic ceremonies. The 19 spectacular Chandeliers of Belgian crystal recently reinstalled to recreate the lost splendor of this regal hall. The clock above the main gate to Chowmahalla Palace is affectionately called Khilwat Clock. It has been ticking away for around 251 years. An expert family of clock repairers winds the mechanical clock every week. This building housed a rare collection of manuscripts and priceless books.The Nizam often met important officials and dignitaries here. Today it is a venue for temporary exhibitions from the treasures of the Chowmahalla Palace Collection of the bygone era. The sixth Nizam is believed to have lived here and the building was named after his mother Roshan Begum. The present Nizam (Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah) and his family decided to restore the Chowmahalla Palace and open it to the public in January 2005. It took over 5 years to document and restore the palaces of the first courtyard to its former glory. The palace also has a collection of vintage cars like the Rolls Royce, which were used by the Nizam Kings. (Credit: Nikhil Arya Linga)

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