The splendour of the Nizams

In the year, prior to the appearance of the “Butcher of Gujrat” in New Delhi, I had the pleasure to visit Hyderabad (Telangana), twice, on business

Each visit was about five days, yet I was able to discover a lot of sights, of both historical and culinary value

After Bangalore, Hyderabad has emerged as the IT city of India and has become a ‘must-stop’ for politicians and business tycoons

After a long siege, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb dislodged the Bijapur dynasty in 1687AD, and Asaf Jah was nominated as prime minister, who later declared himself independent and assumed the title of the Nizam of Hyderabad

It is said that a fakir who was entertained to lavish seven chapatis (flatbread) by Asaf Jah, invoked a prayer and then foretold that his dynasty would last for seven generations

His dynasty lasted from 1724-1948 AD, covering 224 years

The city originally known as ‘Bhayannagar’ was named after Bhagmati, a local dancer of her time

In 1512 AD, the Bhahamimi dynasty was overthrown by Quli Qutub Shah, when he established the fort city of Golconda and renamed it as Hyderabad

Legend has it that the young and dashingly handsome Sultan rode out from Golconda to meet his beloved, braving the flood waters of River Musi

He gave his beloved the name of Hyder-Mahal and the city got baptised as Hyderabad, in her honour

Golconda mines were then, the, only known diamond mines in the world

The 7th Nizam used a 1,000 crore rupees worth of Jacob diamond as a paper weight

The reign of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad, was the longest, lasting 37 years

Upon the death of the sixth Nizam, Mehboob Ali Khan in 1911, 25-year-old Mir Osman was coronated as the Emperor of Hyderabad

The British who were after his riches, lured and titled him ‘His Exalted Highness

’ The Asaf Jah dynasty traced themselves as the descendants of the First Caliph of Islam, and were of Turkish origin, the lineage was traced to the Hadhrami tribe of Arabia

Mir Osman Ali Khan is reported to have had many children, legitimate and otherwise, but the ones recorded in official history are his two sons, Azam and Moazzam Jah, and a daughter Shehzadi Pasha, all from Azmat, his first wife

Both sons were born in Nice, in the South of France

Azam Jah married Durreshehvar, the only daughter of Caliph Abdul Mejid II, the last Ottoman Emperor

Her father fondly called her ‘Nagina’

They had two sons, Mufakham and Mukkaram Jah and the latter became the 8th Nizam of Hyderabad, chosen by his grandfather to inherit the kingdom

For his second son, Moazzam Jah, the Nizam, chose Durreshevar’s first cousin, Princess Nilofer to become his second daughter in law

Princess Nilofer was known for her beauty

These two marriages brought Turkish influence on the culture of Hyderabad

A classic example is the widespread use of the Rumi topi (hat)

Turkish delicacies became part of the Hyderabadi cuisine

Both the ladies are recognised by their contributions towards the economic and social development of women

Mir Osman Ali Khan had inherited vast sums of wealth

His possessions included precious stones, metals, gold and diamonds worth millions of pound sterling and whose weight was unimaginable

In his era, he was the richest man in the world

Despite being wealthy, he was frugal, to the extent of being recognised as miserly, clad in sherwanis with tattered collars

He exhibited his regal status with amazing humility and simplicity, and largely survived on tea and biscuits, home baked by his daughter

He was internationally known and in 1937, made it to the cover of the Time magazine

Osman Ali Khan’s miserliness was limited to himself, but when it came to spending on the welfare of his people, his generosity knew no bounds

He is believed to have been an extremely benevolent king who patronised education, science and economic development

In his 37-year rule, Hyderabad witnessed more progress than it ever achieved under the earlier six Nizams and became the cultural capital of south India

He built roads and airports, and provided electricity even in rural areas

Huge reservoirs and irrigation projects were completed during his reign

The Nagarjunasagar dam construction started before 1948

Osmania University, several colleges and schools were founded throughout the state, and for the very first time science subjects, including medicine, were taught in Urdu

In praise of this first vernacular university, Rabindarnath Tagore wrote “I have been long waiting for the day when, free from shackles of foreign language, our education becomes naturally accessible to our people’

Osman Ali Khan started his own bank that functioned both, as a central and commercial bank, presently known as the State bank of Hyderabad

The Hilali (Osmania Sikka) currency was managed by this institution

Hyderabad was the only state in British India to have had its own currency

He was keenly interested in social development

The Osmania General Hospital, the high court, Central State Library, and many other buildings including the sprawling Bagh-e-Aam (public garden) with its own zoo are tourist attractions, to this day

The many marriages of the Nizam were looked upon as brazen polygamy, however, these overtures were always in conformity with the shariah

He was never in breach of the religious injunctions relating to the number of wives permitted at any one time

His harem was a maintenance hostel for destitute women

The objective was largely to provide such women sanctity within the realm of acceptable societal norms

The harem has been estimated to have 3000 women to as low as 100

He adopted orphan boys who were referred to as khanzadas who attended vocational school

This richest man with diminutive height similar to Napoleon Bonaparte, stood tall amongst the Muslims, as one who gave unflinching support to the concept, and later to the reality of Pakistan

He exhibited simplicity and indulged in writing poetry in Persian and Urdu

Makhdoom Mohiyuddin, the revolutionary poet of Hyderabad who had actually challenged the Nizam, had on many occasions called for putting together verses composed by the Nizam, for he feared that time in its ruthless assault would efface his works

That’s exactly what happened as there are no manuscripts of his works

He followed a strict regimen relating to work ethics

Being a man of restless energy, the Nizam worked from early morning till late at night

He had no hobbies and kept a strict watch on administration with focus on the machinery being economical

Austerity in governance was his hallmark

Hyderabad created popularity for Urdu language and later, it served as its refuge

Lucknow and Hyderabad, even during the Mughal period, were known for their cultural superiority, while maintaining some ethos of the royal Delhi court

Urdu was spoken by all, regardless of their religion, creed or caste

In 1591, Quli Qutub Shah built the Charminar, a beautiful colossus in granite, lime, mortar and according to some archaeologists, pulverised marble

The squarish structure with four towers placed on each corner at 20 metres’ distance, opens on each side into a plaza through giant arches which are shorter than the minarets

The four-storeyed minarets soar skywards by 24 metres from the roof of Charminar, and are 48

7 metres tall

Climbing the 149 steps inside the minarets, one gets to see a panoramic view of the city

The market place around Charminar brings to mind the legendary bazaars of Cairo, Damascus and Istanbul

At the time of its subsequent inclusion into the Indian union, Hyderabad dominion was as large as the present-day France

A mix of multicultural traditions, Hyderabad to the people of UP and Northern states then was what Dubai is to most Pakistani workers today

The fusion of culture of Hyderabad and Lucknow is still existent, but waning

My father being a civil servant served a couple of years in Hyderabad and was a neighbour to the Nizam of Hyderabad for a couple of years

Living opposite King Kothi, he watched history being made at close quarters

In September 1948, barely three weeks after the death of M


Jinnah, the Indian home minister, Vallabhbhai Patel ordered police action called “Operation Polo” to annex Hyderabad, which was later submerged as part of India

I learnt from my father that the Nizam was a great supporter of Pakistan’s creation

Mr Jinnah had visited him just once, and historical evidence indicates that they did not click on a personal level

But the Nizam laid open the coffers of his kingdom for Mr Jinnah’s Pakistan

In the initial years, post-independence, the nascent state suffered from serious financial issues, due to massive exodus of the trading community and Hindu merchants to India

The Muslims had not made any name for themselves in business, and were largely in the administrative services of British India

There was no bank registered in the new country

In dire financial straits, Pakistan looked at the Nizam for monetary help who generously obliged

Every week from Hyderabad to Karachi, he would send tons of cash via an airplane flown in by Captain Sidney Cotton, a British pilot

This activity was done surreptitiously at night and Cotton would ensure flying at low heights to avoid appearing on Indian radars

Zahid Hussain, the first governor of the State Bank of Pakistan served as finance secretary in Hyderabad government and that Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad served as finance minister in Nizam’s cabinet

Unfortunately, history has not done justice to the two financial providers, the Nizam of Hyderabad and Raja Sahib of Mehmoodabad

Both gave much of their belongings to the state, while the subsequent and current leadership, instead of giving to the country, takes away all for themselves

No account of Hyderabad can be complete without the mention of the delicious Hyderabadi cuisine

Between the two visits I devoured at the Secunderabad Club, courtesy of a friend, the delicious pathhar kabab, bhagaire baigan, dum ka keema, mirch salan and double ka meetha are unforgettable

The 7th Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan passed away after a brief illness on 24th February, 1967

He had made a bequest to be buried in a grave next to his mothers’ at the Judi mosque, opposite King Kothi, built upon a hillock

His funeral service was marred by the massive crowd that had come to pay respect and homage to their beloved king

Later, his grandson Prince Mukarram Jah was formally coronated as the 8th Nizam

Princess Asra who he later divorced was his first wife

Mukarram Jah died recently at the age of 89 in Istanbul and was buried in Makkah Masjid alongside the previous Nizams

The eldest son of Mukkaram Jah, was bestowed the title of being the 9th Nizam, with no official recognition

After the abolition of the royal privy purses in 1971, all royal titles were withdrawn by the government

Narendra Modi’s government has further enriched itself by swallowing what remains of Mir Osman Ali Khan’s immeasurable and unestimable wealth

The writer is a senior banker, an author, and contributes regularly to newspapers

He can be reached at azizsirajddin@gmail


All information and facts are the sole responsibility of the writer

Date:27-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link