Hyderabad is a very interesting city. It has had its share of past glory, betrayal and neglect. From the death of Aurangzeb, to the disbanding of the Mughal empire, through the storm clouds of the British rule right up to the formation of a free Indian state, seven Nizams have ruled Hyderabad. Here is a brief summary on the legacy of the Nizams.
The First:- Nizam-ul-mulk Fateh Jung
The real name of the first Nizam is Mir Qumaruddin. To honor him for his valour in the battle field Aurangzeb bestowed him with the title “Chin Fateh Khan”. Later emperors added to the titles Nizam-ul-mulk Fateh Jung and Asif Jah. Thus the dynasty of the Nizams were born and to complicate matters historians decided to title the dynasty as the “Asif Jahi” one.
After the death of Aurangzeb , Nizam-ul-mulk Fateh Jung declared his independence from the Mughals and moved to the Deccan to set up his empire. He chose Hyderabad as his capital. Nizam-ul-mulk Fateh Jung fought decisive battles which established his supremacy in the Deccan and kept all the other warring Rajputs at bay. Around the same time as when Nizam-ul-mulk was establishing his territory the British and the French had locked horns to control India.
Nizam-Ul-mulk wisely left the British and French to their devices and steered clear of any foreign powers.
Unfortunately after his death , there was no heir apparent. His son and his grandson were old enough and equally ambitious to pick up the reigns of what was looking to be a flourishing empire. The British and the French stepped in wanting to penetrate the invincible Deccan. Nasir Jung was supported by the British but it was the grandson Muzafar Jung was aided by the French who succeeded only to be murdered by his son Salabath Jung who in turn was in turn was ousted by the brother, Nizam Ali Khan. What can I say, it runs in the family!
History does not recognise Muzafar Jung and Salabath as Nizams.
The Second: Nizam Ali Khan
Nizam Ali Khan ruled for about forty years during a tumultuous period. While his grandfather kept foreign powers out of his empire, Ali Khan employed a French general as an advisor and military leader and simultaneously sought alliance with the British Raj. It was this alliance that served Hyderabad an advantage; while the rest of the princely states in India had the British poke their nose into the daily affairs, Hyderabad was left to herself.
The Third: Sikandar Jah
Sikandar Jah was the undisputed heir after the death of Ali Khan. He had able statesmen to handle the administration of his state. Secunderabad was named after him.
The Fourth: Nasir-Ul-Duala
Nasir-Ul-Duala was the eldest son of Sikandar Jah. During his rule the financial state of the state of the Hyderabad was greatly improved by his prime minister, Salar Jung.
The Fifth: Afzal-Ul-Daula
Afzal -Ul-Daula became the Nizam when the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was fought. He retained the services of his father’s prime minister, Salar Jung. He built the mosque at Afzalgunj and encouraged settlers to the area. He died at a very young age and leaving behind an infant heir.
The Sixth: Mir Mahboob Ali Khan
In my opinion the sixth Nizam is far the most interesting of all. He was barely three years old when his father died. He was the infant prince. Salar Jung along with the British Resident in Hyderabad undertook the care of his Nizam. Of all the influences in young Mahboob’s life Salar Jung’s was the strongest. Salar Jung played different roles to the young Nizam, a father figure, a mentor and a subject. Unfortunately for Mahboob, Salar Jung died while the prince was still a minor. However at the Prince’s request Lord Rippon agreed to grant investiture with full power. Salar Jung’s son and Mahboob’s former class mate became prime minister to the sixth Nizam.
Mahboob’s brother in law Vicar- ul-Umra built the Falaknuma Palace which was later gifted to the Nizam. It was here that the Nizam fell down, was paralysed and later died.
The Seventh: Mir Osman Ali Khan
Mir Osman Ali Khan shifted the Nizami residence from Falaknuma back to Chowmallah then to King Koti. Since his father died while in residence in Falaknuma he deemed it an unlucky palace.
Mir Osman Ali Kahn had many personalities. He was an able statesmen and cared about his subjects.In 1908 the Musi river overflowed causing the worst flood that Hyderabad has ever seen. When Osman Ali came to power he initiated a board which saw to the restoration and erection of a lot of public buildings , some of which are functional even to this day.
He was very generous and tolerant to all religions.He was the richest man during his life and gave away money generously for any charitable cause regardless of the caste, creed or religion.
He is also rumoured to have had a 100 wives and a bunch of illegitimate children. None know the truth of this, however after his death there were people from all walks of life who came forward alleging to be his child and claiming a share of his wealth.
In 1948 when an Independent India was born the Nizam refused to accede to the Indian. Instead, he wanted Hyderabad to be recognised as an independent sovereignty. In September after five days of battle Hyderabad was captured and the state of Andhra Pradesh was formed. The Nizam’s land and wealth were seized and his military commander jailed. Thus ended the reign the 224 years of Nizami rule in Hyderabad.
The would have been Eighth: Mukarram Jah
Mir Osman Ali Khan passed over his son in his will and as a result his grandson Mukarram Jah inherited the title in 1967 with the death of the seventh Nizam. However in 1974 the Indian Government abolished the title of Nizam and to make matters worse his grandfather left him more worries than riches.
Drop in later to read about how the heir of the richest man in the world eats humble pie today. Not by choice mind you!