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Niloufer the last princess

Sunday, 3 January 2010
January 03:

On 4th January, 1916, Niloufer was born in the Goztepe Palace in Istanbul in Turkey.  Her mother was Adile Sultan, a grand-daughter of Sultan Murad V, who had been deposed on the grounds of purported mental illness. 

Adile herself was married and divorced and it was with her second husband, Salahuddin Morali, that she gave birth to Niloufer. 

At the age of eight, Niloufer moved to Nice in France.  This was not a voluntary move.  Turkey had lost its bearings during the First World War.  When the war ended, the mighty Ottoman empire was divided, and all that was left of it was Turkey itself.  Kemal Ataturk, the revolutionary leader, decided to modernize the country.   

Princess Niloufer With Prince Moazzam Jah

He forbade the wearing of traditional dresses and decreed that women had to dress in the European style.  Fearing that the presence of royalty might bring the Sultan back to power, he banished the entire royal family into exile. 

This meant that the Sultan, Abdul Majid II, who also had the title of the Khalifa, had to give up his palatial possessions and move to southern France.  For the Muslims worldwide, this was a low point in their history when the Khalifa himself became a poor man.  At that time, rescue came in the form of the Nizam of Hyderabad.  The Nizam promised the Khalifa a pension of 300 British Pounds a month.  On this income, the Khalifa maintained his establishment.

Princess Niloufer With Begum Aga Khan

The deposition of the Khalifa was a significant political event.  Mahatma Gandhi felt that this would be the right time for the Khilafat movement, to restore the Khalifa.  The leaders of the movement were Maulana Mohammed Ali and Maulana Shoukat Ali.  During this movement, Shoukat Ali came to be on very friendly terms with the Khalifa. 

Thus, in 1931, seeing that the Khalifa had no son, Shoukat Ali proposed that the Khalifa’s daughter, Durru Shehvar, be married to Azam Jah.  The negotiations for the terms of the marriage started, but soon broke down, as the Nizam felt that the requirement for the Mehr was exorbitant.  Eventually, the Nizam was able to get two marriages within the specified amount.  In this way, the marriage of Niloufer to Moazzam Jah was finalized.  They were married on November 12, 1931; at this wedding, the Khalifa himself acted as the Kazi.

A few weeks later, the two princesses, Durru Shehvar and Niloufer set sail for India.  They spent a few days in Bombay, and played tennis with the daughters of the Governor of Bombay.  They were taught how to wear sarees, and the expected etiquette in the presence of the Nizam.  With great trepidation, they boarded the train to Hyderabad.

When the train pulled up at the Nampally station, Azam Jah hopped off the train and simply prostrated in front of the Nizam.  He bowed again several times; this pleased the Nizam who kept smiling and repeating “fatherly affection”.  When the turn of Niloufer, she stepped off the train ever so lightly.  All eyes were on her.  At this moment, the Boy Scouts presented a guard of honour.

Niloufer and Moazzam Jah moved in to Hill Fort.  The shell of this building still stands, on the ascent from Public Gardens to Noubat Pahad.  It was a large house, purchased from the previous owner, Sir Nizamat Jung.  Moazzam Jah’s rooms were on the ground floor and Niloufer’s on the first floor.  Almost every evening, Moazzam Jah organized a mushaira.  Many well known names were present in the gatherings. 

A book by one of those, Sidiq Jaisi, details these glittering evenings.  One of those present was Fani Badayuni, for whom a car used to be sent every evening to bring him to Hill Fort.  Another well known name that graced these sessions is that of Akhtari Bai, who later attained fame as Begum Akhtar. 

As the years rolled by, Durru Shehvar gave birth to a son, Mukarram Jah.  When several years passed, and still Niloufer had not conceived, she consulted various doctors in Europe and was planning to go to America for a medical visit.  During this time, one of her maids died during childbirth.  At that time, there was no specialized hospital for children and mothers.  Niloufer’s resolve to build such a hospital materialized in the form of the current hospital in Red Hills.

While her private life seemed empty due to lack of children, her public life became very glittering.  She was invited to several functions, inaugurated several events and became a torch-bearer for women’s advancement.  During the Second World War, she obtained training as a nurse, and helped in relief efforts.  Her beauty, and her active public life, received mention in the press, and frequently on cover pages of magazines.  She was judged one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world, and was offered several roles in films. 

Niloufer had a style of dressing that attracted the public and caught the attention of the fashion media.  Her sarees were especially crafted by Madhavdas, a designer from Bombay.  These were frequently studied and analyzed.  Even in later years, when she shifted to wearing European style clothes when travelling abroad, she still managed to cut a fine figure.  One of her European dresses formed the topic of discussion in the New York Times in 1961.

When India became independent, Niloufer was in a peculiar position.  Hyderabad had yet to decide on joining the Indian Union.  As this situation dragged on, eventually Hyderabad was amalgamated into the Indian Union by a “Police Action”.  Although the Nizam was retained as the Head of the State, he was just a shadow of his former self.

Niloufer decided never to return to India again.  Her marriage with Moazzam Jah came to an end in 1952.  She continued to live in Paris, with her mother, in a flat.  Since she was only 36, she continued to attract a lot of attention, and had some of the most famous people as friends.  She was offered yet another role in a Hollywood film, but she turned it down again.

Niloufer died in Paris in 1989 and was buried next to her mother.

 The Author of this Article is: Arvind Acharya. He can be reached at arvindach@gmail.com

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My birth

I was born in the hospital built by Her Excellency Princess Niloufer.

The hospital is still considered the best in the country for the same.

It is a pity that she did not live in Hyderabad after 1948.

We all love her.

Anil Chandra K

Princess Niloufer

Thank you Mr. Arvind Acharya for bringing to light the stories on princess Niloufer. I think you should write a book on the subject and reach a much wider audience, as coming from an expert on the last Nizam's family it would carry much credibility.

well said sir ji

well said sir ji

Legality of Police Action

Worshipful Editor Sahib
In the article on Princess Niloufer by Arvind Acharya
it was mentioned that Princess Niloufer went into self-exile
to Paris after the "Police Action".Is such alleged action lawful in the eyes of the International Court of Justice?

Most Muslim Prince Beg (mirza family)

Prince Mirza Mehmood Beg (B. Feb 02, 1991) his son of Prince Moazzam Beg or his daughter of Princess Munawwarah Begum and his wife of Princess Koser Begum, he was born in Ahmedabad.

Royal Prince

Prince Moazzam Beg (Prince Moazzam Mirza; Born 18 November 1991) His know as Prince of Mughal. He is an Indian Famous Muslim. He was Born in Ahmedabad.

thanks siasat team,specialy

thanks siasat team,specialy mr zak .thanks mr.arvind acharya.pricess niloufer was beautiful lady ,no second thought about it .but i like telugu women more ,perhaps because of their sweet face, attractive personality tan skin color creates that magnetic field.even thou i have access to turkish beauties.next to telugu women i think punjabi ,bengali are potential competiters,as far as appeal
is concerned thou there are always exceptions in every region of south asia.


Dear NOOR, Indira was married to Feroz Gandhi, who was a parsee and not a Muslim.

dear bhaijan,,,,,,,,Indira

dear bhaijan,,,,,,,,Indira was married to Feroz Gandhi in a Muslim way, changing their name and hiding the religion, and pretending to be muslims, thus was the wedding cermony held, remember about Dharmendra and Hema Malini, they both pretended to be muslim and married in muslim way, Indira Nehru as we all know a Pandit Brahmin, and Feroz was a Parsee but as Mahatma Gandhi's adopted son, used the surname of Gandhi, thus Feroz Gandhi, and after marriage, Indira Nehru became Mrs. Feroz Gandhi, and thus we had Indira Gandhi ruled India as a Gandhi, and her son Rajiv Gandhi,and his Italian Christian wife Sonia Gandhi,,,,,,,just using name of Gandhi to rule the ignorant Indians, using the sympathy and high place of Mahatma Gandhi in Indians. As for her marriage, afraid of backlash and opposition from Hindu orthodox and Brahmins, the marriage cermony was done in the house of Muslim leader, famous one, and performed as bride and groom were as if muslims. Look what happened about Sanjay Gandhi's marriage, with a Sikh girl, Maneka,,,,,,,and during Emergency, it was sensored and in small letters was annouced about that marriage, and wedding reception,,,,,,,,how the Maneka's family and friends and Sikhs, forcing into Indira Gandhi's house for the marriage, as its well known about Sanjay who was a playboy,,,,,,,,why journalists do not tell to the public what is the real power.,,,,


Dear Noor, Indira Gandhi was married to Feroz Gandhi, who was a parsee and not a Muslim.

Good one...

People and the young generation and those between the age of 25-40 do little know about this piece of information.Since last 10 to 11 years those who have seen the ups and downs in thier life can now have the time to read this kind of articles about hyderabad.For us roots are there not abroad, just think of your children and future, dont let them ask to ourselves from where we are?Little piece of info. makes some times good knowlege.Good jo siasat.

I heard from an old

I heard from an old Hyderabadi man, when Princess Niloufer used to eat " Paan" and swallow, the viewer can see the red saliva passing down through the neck, such was her skin color, and very beautiful, but tragic end as she never became a mother of Prince Moazzam Jah's son or daughter. The same old man told the prince was not capable of. True of false, we need to dig the archives or meet some old from King Kothi inner circle. They said she was such a beauty that the audience were spell bound and speech less. For the wedding, many princes from around the world made the bid, even Iran's Shah, but both the Princess were married to the sons of the Richest Man in the world of that time, Nizam. Princess Niloufer also estabilished the Niloufer Hospital for children, and Princess Dur-e-Shahwar laid the foundation stone of Hyderabad Airport at Begumpet. Both the Turkish Princess were so beautiful,,,,,,the pictures published here are rare, she looks more beautiful than the actresses of movies, comapre the picture here with that of younger Madhubala or Meena Kumari of Bombay films. Congratulations to Siasat and the author of this article. Hope Siasat will also publish rare pictures of Dur-e-Shahwar and Azam Jah and Mukkaram Jah and his Turkish Princess wife.

I heard descendants of

I heard descendants of Mozamjah are fighting with Sultan-ul-uloom educational society to get back 24 acres of land on which the college is running. This means Mozamjah had childrens from his second wife

Want to know more

thanks siasat and Zahid sahab for wonderful article. We are young and we know very little about hyderabad history.

thanks for insight

Exceelent Info

Excellent bit of information for the current generation to know about the Hyderabad Royal Family. Always we should remember the history and take possitive things from it. Thanks Siasat. Keep it up good job.

Really it feels great to

Really it feels great to read about our past. InshAllah we will get back our ruling in the future.

No Love far (Niloufer)

What a graceful woman she was, Hyderabad never witnessed such a beauty again.
But what was the out come, no nuts and bolts, shear waste . .. all gone with the wind!


Good info siasat. the life of these posh people is full of luxuries.. but one good thing is the establishment of Niloufer hospital. thats a superb thing done....

Mashallah the princess of

Mashallah the princess of Hyderabad made it to the Hollywood along with her friends in paris , I am proud to be a Hyderabadi.

Indira Khan Nikkah

Can you provide Nikkah information of Indira Khan ( Gandhi ) and Feroz Khan ( Gandhi ) . It will be highly appreciated.


Sir, this was really an eye opener for young hyderabadis who dont know about the history of hyderabad and its rulers in the next episode could we have some light on the relation of the nizams and the soudy royal family. thanks to Mr zahid for this

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