Aliya: 150 and still going strong; among the Aliyans are both kings and commoners

Hyderabad: Anniversary is the time to celebrate the joy of today, memories of yesterday and the hopes of tomorrow. For Aliyans it is a special occasion as they celebrate on Saturday the sesquicentennial of their alma mater – Madrasa-i-Aliya. A century and half is a significant period, though not very long in the history of an institution.

Nostalgia dies hard. For the old boys it is definitely time to go down the memory lane, recall the time spent in the sprawling school grounds and share their bittersweet anecdotes. For many the pleasant days spent here are worth cherishing for a lifetime. It was a chapter they never wanted to end. The best days of entire life, surely. Bunking classes, playing pranks, little skirmishes and then making it up. What a fun. Everlasting memories. Lots of best friends, unforgettable memories, loyal hearts and blossoming faces. And, one reason: Aliya. There was no Wi-Fi those days but the teachers and the taught were better connected, something sorely missing these days.

An old picture of Aliyans

The fresh crop of students may not know, but the Madrasa-i-Aliya is one of the earliest schools established in 1872 for the children of nobility. Much like the present-day Doon School, it was the elite school those days and much sought after by the nobility. Best of teachers, infrastructure and ambience was what made everyone root for it. It was first housed in the mansion of a British businessman, Horace Rumbold in King Kothi area. Later it moved to a portion of Asad Bagh (present Nizam College) belonging to Fakhr ul Mulk, a great noble who built the famous Irram Manzil palace in 1896 spread over 400 acres and comprising 150 rooms. A flamboyant nawab, he figures next to the Nizams and Paigahs in the aristocratic hierarchy. He initially lived in the Asad Bagh and later shifted to the magnificent Irram Manzil.

MS Education Academy

Mir Turab Ali Khan Bahadur, Salar Jung I, who founded Madrasa-i-Aliya, served as the Prime Minister of Hyderabad State for 30 long years under the reign of Nawab Nasir ud Dowla Bahadur (1829-1857), Nawab Afzal ud Dowla Bahadur (1857-1869) and the 6th Nizam, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan (1869-1911). The modern system of education in Hyderabad, many believe, is largely due to his efforts. A strong votary of women’s education, he set up the Oriental College (Dar-ul-Uloom) at Hyderabad.

He established Aliya as a private school primarily for the education of his sons and those of Hyderabad nobility. The children studied under an English tutor, Parnell, B.A. (Cantab.) When many parents expressed their desire to have their wards study here, Salar Jung I decided to start a Public School. Having outgrown its purpose, the palace school was then shifted to Rumbold’s Kothi, which was situated outside the King Kothi Palace. The school functioned under the Headmaster, Mr. Krohn. The idea was to impart sound knowledge of English and oriental education for sons of Muslim and Hindu nobility. Right from the beginning the school was partially residential.

H.P Hudson succeeded Krohn in 1881 and the next year E.A. Seaton was appointed Assistant Headmaster. The 6th Nizam, Mir. Mahboob Ali Khan took personal interest in the development of the school. A Board of Governors managed the school and students were prepared for the matriculation exam of the Madras University. In 1881 the Chaderghat College was revived and integrated with Madrasa-i-Aliya. The combined institution was called the Nizam College. Mr. Hudson became the first principal of the Nizam College. From 1887 to 1947 education was provided here right from kindergarten to post graduation. In 1914 both the school and college were shifted to the present Nizam College premises then known as Asad Bagh. It was the residence of Nawab Fakhr ul Mulk Bahadur. In 1949 the school was moved to the present premises, also the resident of Nawab Fakhr ul Mulk. For quite some time the place served as Home Secretariat. In October 1947 the school was transferred to the Department of Education while Nizam College was affiliated to the Osmania University.

The school was forced to work in shift system when a compound wall was raised and a portion of the Amar Zulqadar Mansion, which housed the school, was handed over to office of Director of Agriculture by the government in 1966. Classes VI and VII were moved to the Aliya Primary School. While classes VIII to X, with strength of 800, worked in the morning, the College with 650 students functioned in the afternoon shift. The school had an excellent record in sports, particularly cricket, football, table tennis, badminton and tennis.

Blue and yellow are the colours of the institution and its emblem consists of a unicorn type of animal mounted on a shield. The motto is Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Aliya School also had an anthem known as ‘Tarana Aliya’. It was written by its Urdu teacher, late Hamid Khan Hindi. The opening lines go like this:

Aiye Madrasa-i-Aliya ke veer nehalo
Veeron ki tarha parcham Aali ko sambhalo

According to Mohd Anwaruddin, an Aliyan, who retired from AP Transco, some of the teachers popular those days with students were: Mansoor ul Hasan Hashmi, Mrs. D.J. Cottle, Headmistress, Rahmatullah, who taught Hindi and Urdu, Hanumanth Rao and Samuel, English teachers, Mrs. Khan, Urdu teacher, Mohd Abdul Basith, physical training teacher and Syed Asaduddin, Principal.

The Aliya founder, Mir Turab Ali Khan, was a great administrator and played a key role in shaping the history of Hyderabad but unfortunately, he is today remembered mostly in respect of the Salar Jung Museum, the art collection of his grandson.

A heritage structure, the Aliya School is a double storied building and reflects British colonial architecture. The front facade has a series of well-placed Tuscan style circular columns supporting the high roof covering the ground and first floor. Right in the centre of the building is a high ceiling portico supported by a twin Tuscan column.

The only English medium school those days, Aliya boasts of some illustrious students, the veritable who’s who.

Foremost among them is the 7th Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, the architect of modern Hyderabad. His two grandsons, Mir Barkat Ali Khan, popularly known as Mukarram Jah Bahadur and Mir Karamat Ali Khan aka Muffakham Jah Bahadur also studied here. The last Asaf Jahi ruler, who believed education to be the passport to future, established the Osmania University in 1918 with Urdu as the medium of instruction.

Other prominent alumni include: Nawab Fakhr ul Mulk, Maharaja Sir Kishan Prashad (Prime Minister), Nawab Mir Laiq Ali Khan, Salar Jung II, Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III, Nawab Ali Nawaz Jung (Engineer), Nawab Ali Yawar Jung, Nawab Sir Aqeel Jung (Prime Minister), Nawab Bahadur Yar Jung, Nawab Mehdi Nawaz Jung, Nawab Nizamat Jung, Nawab Zain Yar Jung, Hashim Amir Ali, Dr. Omar Khalid (scholars), Syed Ali Akbar (educationist), Nawab Alam Yar Jung (Chief Justice), Dr. Dennis Gay, Prof. Hossain Ali Khan, Saleh Akber Hydari (Governor), Raja Narsing Raj, Justice Hashim Ali Khan, Raja Pratabgir, Abid Hussain, Admiral Ahsan, Air Marshal I. H. Lateef, F.C. Mehta, Lt. Gen. M.A. Zaki, Brig. M.M. Zaki, Brig. Yaqoob Ali, Justice Sardar Ali Khan, Siasat Daily founder, Abid Ali Khan and its present Editor, Zahid Ali Khan, former Rehnuma-e-Deccan Editor, Syed Vicaruddin. There are a host of Paigah nobles too. Another famous alumnus was Dr. Aneesur Rahman, a pioneer in molecular dynamics. He worked as Physics Professor in US and was nominated for Noble Prize in Physics.

A few sportsmen like cricketers, Ghulam Ahmed, S.M. Hadi, Nawab Mohammed Hussain, Edulji Bujorji Aibara and former captain of Indian football team, Shabbir Ali, and former Pakistan cricket team captain, Asif Iqbal Rizvi, were all products of Aliya Boys School. There were innumerable others who passed out of its portals and served the country in different walks of life.

The school boasted of high academic standards as it was ably managed by Anglo Indians. Later admission to the school was thrown open to commoners and it grew from strength to strength. In 1970 the government opened a junior college in its premises, the first in the twin cities. This high-profile institution celebrated its centenary in 1972. Mukarram Jah Bahadur and Nawab Ali Yavar Jung, former Governor of Maharashtra, were among those who attended the celebrations.

Aliya centenary celebrations

In the last 150 years Aliya witnessed many profound social and political changes in the State and the country. It also had its share of obstacles and problems. And the journey continues.

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