Asaf Jahi Nizams – The real architects of modern Hyderabad

Hyderabad under the Nizams was far ahead of other princely states and British Administered territories of that time

Ahmed Shareef Askander
Ahmed Shareef Askander

Hyderabad – The city of Pearls & Diamonds decades before the arrival & boom of silicon industry was worldwide known for its wealth & riches. The credit for laying the foundations for development of Hyderabad State especially goes to the Nizam’s of the Royal Asaf Jahi Dynasty. Among them, HH Nizam VI Mir Mahboob Ali Siddiqui Khan Bahadur & HEH Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Siddiqui Khan Bahadur are the most prominent, whose policies and actions towards the development of Hyderabad city put it on the globe.

In 1937, Time magazine published Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Khan on the cover page as the world’s richest man of that time and the fifth richest man in history, with a total wealth of $2 billion. Born on April 6, 1886, Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur ascended to the throne of the erstwhile Hyderabad State upon the death of his father HH Mir Mahbub Ali Khan, who was the sixth Nizam. He was one of the five princes under the Colonial British Rule, who were entitled to a 21-gun salute, and owing to the support provided to the British during World War 1, he was granted the title of ‘Faithful Ally of the British Empire’. The last Nizam VII was also the only ruler of a princely state in India with the title of ‘His Exalted Highness’. and as per Indian Office Records, a question was also addressed to the British Government for granting of the title of “King” to the HEH The Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Siddiqui Khan Bahadur.

The last Nizam VII was known for his benevolence and for being a patron of education, science, technology, and development. His emphasis on education is further reinforced by the fact that his government devoted 11 percent of the State budget for education. The vast campuses of Osmania University, numerous educational establishments and grants given to them are irrefutable evidence of his keen interest & everlasting contributions for education.

MS Education Academy

Operation Polo

After gaining independence from the British Empire, followed by the Indo-Pak partition of 1947, the princely states of India had the option of choosing to join either India or Pakistan and it was then that the Nizam refused to join either and instead, wanted his 16 million people and over 82,000+ square-mile territory to be a separate kingdom within the British Commonwealth. For this purpose, his government even approached the United Nations for help, but the newly established Indian government sent a division of the Indian Army in an operation codenamed Operation Polo. Following Operation Polo, Major General Syed Ahmed El Edroos, the Commander-in-Chief of the Nizam’s Hyderabad State Army, formally surrendered to Major General Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri of the Indian army, and Hyderabad State was integrated into newly independent India. Subsequently, Mir Osman Ali Khan was sworn as the Raj Pramukh (Head of the State like the present-day Governor) on the 26th of January 1951 and held that post until the 31st of October 1956. The position of Raj Pramukh was abolished on the 1st of November 1956 under the States Reorganization Act by the Government of India and unions of states was dismantled.

Senior Journalist and Political Analyst Dr. Ahmed Mohiuddin Siddiqui observes that His Exalted Highness the Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Siddiqui Khan Bahadur was a Uniter-in-Chief and not an internationally notorious Divider-in-Chief. The noble Nizam had declared that Hindus and Muslims were his two eyes. He neither ordered nor committed any genocide. He appointed Hindus in his Cabinet and in Hyderabad City Police. Sir Maharaja Kishen Pershad was the Sadr-ul-Mahaam (Prime Minister) and Raja Bahadur Venkatrama Reddy was the Kotwal (Police Commissioner) of Hyderabad State.

Dr. Ahmed pointed out that HEH the Nizam was the builder of modern Hyderabad. Hyderabad still drinks from his two cups – Osmansagar Lake and Himayatsagar Lake. The wise Nizam lighted the candle of education with the century-old, internationally acclaimed Osmania University, which even produced a Prime Minister of India. He nursed the sick, back to health with the mighty Osmania Hospital. The legacy and the heritage left behind by HEH the Nizam VII must be protected at all costs by the Telangana Government and the Government of India. The noble ruler must be awarded Bharat Ratna.

Asaf Jahi Nizams’ contributions for Hyderabad State

Mr. Amarbir Singh, an eminent Historian & Numismatics Expert on Hyderabad Nizam’s Currency has painstakingly recorded and shared the contributions and developments made during the Asaf Jahi Nizams era that helped me to put it in a tabular form and I am indebted to Mr. Amarbir Singh for allowing me to use his scholarly research in this story as it can be read in the table below. While documenting the Asaf Jahi Nizams’ contributions to Hyderabad State, a rule or procedure must be applied especially for colleges, hospitals, and everything so that readers get to know the story behind it, i.e., the first proposal or plan, issuance of Firman (Royal Charter), project initiation date, expenditure incurred, year of construction and completion, inauguration, etc. Such as, for Osmania University (OU) – The Royal Charter was promulgated on 16th of Zilhaj 1336 AH corresponding to 1918 Gregorian Calendar and it was established on 1st of Moharrum 1337 AH corresponding to 1918 G.C. OU College was opened in 1919 after the issuance of the Royal Charter and OU Regulations received the assent of HEH The Nizam VII on 29th of Safar 1339 AH corresponding to 1920 G.C added Mr. Amarbir Singh.

Can we imagine, how Hyderabad would have been without the contributions & developments made by the Nizam’s of the Asaf Jahi Dynasty?

The tables inserted below take the readers into the past era and highlight the numerous contributions of the Nizams of the Asaf Jahi Dynasty for Hyderabad State & its many institutions.

01.1829Chaderghat Bridge (or Oliphant Bridge) was constructed.
02.1846Hyderabad Medical School was established.
03.1856The First Post Office founded.
04.1866Afzal Gunj Hospital was built.
05.1869A system of municipal administration was introduced in the Nizam’s Dominions.
06.1869The First Posatage Stamp of Hyderabad State was issued.
07.1870Errum (Iram) Manzil Palace was built.
08.1871Singareni Collieries was established.
09.  1874The First Railway Line between Wadi and Secunderabad (and a short branch to Trimulgherry, a military station was opened for public traffic on 08th of October 1874).
10.1876Hyderabad Printing Press was established.
11.1878Secunderabad Club (Earlier known as Secunderabad Public Rooms and United Services Club) was inaugurated.
12.1884The Nizam Club.
13.1885Telecommunications started in Hyderabad State.
14.1886The Hyderabad Race Club shifted from Maula Ali to Malakpet.
15.1894Falaknuma Palace built and gifted by the Noble of  Paigah’s family Nawab Sir Vicar Ul Umra to Nizam VI Mir Mahboob Ali Khan Siddiqui.
16.1895Machine minted coins of Hyderabad State were manufactured and circulated.
17.1896Secunderabad Clock Tower was erected.
18.1898Paigah Palace.
19.1901Nizam’s Observatory was established.
20.1901The Hyderabad Ladies Association Club was formed.
21.1903A Modern Mint was established at Saifabad.
22.1910The Hyderabad Electricity Board started producing thermal electricity. Indeed, Hyderabad had electricity at least 15 years before the rest of India got electricity.
23.1914Nizamia Observatory was established.
24.1914Kacheguda Railway Station was inaugurated.
25.1918The Paper Currency was introduced for the first time in Hyderabad State printed by the Waterloo and Sons Company of England. Indeed, Hyderabad was the only Princely State to have its own paper money.
26.1919The Hyderabad High Court was established.
27.1919Nizam VII gifted the Osmania University to the people of Hyderabad.
28.1919A modern Osmania General Hospital was established.
29.1920Followed by the Osmania Medical College.
30.1920Under Nizam VII reign, Zinda Tilismath, a Unani Medical Manufacturing Company was established & is still operational.
31.1920Osman Sagar Reservoir was built following Musi Floods in 1908.
32.1921The Judiciary was separated from the Executive Council.
33.1921Nizam’s Sugar Factory was established.
34.1922The Mahbubiya Town Hall (now Telangana State Assembly) was inaugurated.
35.1922Osman Shahi Mills Limited came into being
36.1927Himayat Sagar Reservoir was built on Esi River.
37.1927The Deccan Glass Factory started production.
38.1929The DBR Mills Limited established.
39.1930The Vazir Sultan Tobacco Company Limited produced tobacco products.
40.1932The Nizam’s State Rail & Road Transport Department (N.S.R-RTD) was operational.
41.1933The Kohinoor Glass Factory was established.
42.1934Azam Jahi Mills.
43.1934The State Central Library.
44.1935The Muazzam Jahi Market was inaugurated.
45.1936Begumpet Airport.
46.1936The Indian Hume Pipe Company Ltd.
47.1936The Taj Clay Works Ltd.
48.1938The Sirpur Paper Mills Limited.
49.1938Hyderabad (Nampally) Railway Station inaugurated.
50.1938Unani Hospital (Shifa Khanah-e-Osmania) started.
51.1940Taj Glass Works was established in Sanathnagar.
52.1941The Golconda Cigarette Factory was established by Nawab Shah Alam Khan’s family under Nizam’s rule.
53.1942Allwyn Metal Work (later Hyderabad Allwyn Limited) was established.
54.1943Praga Tools Limited established.
55.1945Deccan Airways was founded.

Mr. Mohammed Amjad, a Chief Technology Officer of a multinational company, and Senior Heritage Buff of Deccan Heritage Trust Group says, “In the field of education, Hyderabad was far ahead than the rest of India and several educational establishments were established under the Nizam’s Asaf Jahi Dynasty as shown in the table below.

56.1834St. George’s Grammar School was earlier named Hyderabad Residency School.
57.1850St. Francis Girls School, Secunderabad.
58.1855All Saints’ School, Hyderabad.
59.1865Madarsa Dar Ul Uloom, the first city school.
60.1869Hyderabad Civil Engineering College.
61.1871St Ann’s School, Secunderabad.
63.1876Chaderghat School.
64.1879Mufeed Ul Anam Boys High School.
65.1881Chaderghat First Grade College.
66.1884Mahboob College High School.
67.1887Nizam’s College.
68.1877Nampally Girls School.
69.1894A’safiya School, Medical College.
70.1896Stanley Girls School.
71.1899Law School.
72.1904Rosary Convent High School was founded.
73.1907Viveka Vardhini School.
74.1907Mahboobia Girls High School
75.1920Osmania Medial College.
76.1921City College, Osmania University.
77.1923Hyderabad Public School.
78.1924Women’s College Kothi or University College for Women founded & moved to its present home in 1949.
79.1934The Foundation for Arts College building of Osmania University was laid.
80.1946Hyderabad Veterinary Science College.

In the field of Medicine, Hyderabad State under the Nizam’s had a separate and specialised hospital for General Medicine, Chest, Orthopaedic, Fever, ENT, Mental Health, TB Sanatorium and Quarantine Facility in 1940s more than 82 years ago. No doubt, Hyderabad under the Nizams was far ahead of other princely states and British Administered Territories of that time. It also had its separate Army and independence of all means despite under the Colonial British Rule, says Dr.Mohammed Safi Ullah (Renowned Historian of Hyderabad).  It’s worth mentioning that it was in the Nizam’s Dominion, Sir Ronald Ross made his landmark discovery of Malaria parasite on August 20, 1897, in Secunderabad. The following medical facilities were established and operational during the Nizam’s Rule:

01.1846Hyderabad Medical School (HMS), first Urdu medium medical school was founded during the reign of Nizam IV and it’s precursor of Afzalgunj Hospital & Osmania Medical College.
02.1851King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEM) now Gandhi Hospital initially started as an Infirmary of 3 wards.
03.1854A Urdu medical journal was started in Hyderabad Medical School entitled “Risala-e-Tibabat”.
04.1866Afzalgunj Hospital was established, and the first trials of chloroform as anaesthesia were conducted in 1888-1891 here.
05.1889Jajgi Khana or Queen Victoria Zenana Hospital, exclusively for women was founded, now it’s named Government Medical Hospital & shifted to Petla Burj.
06.1897Government Mental Hospital Erragadda was established. Originally started in Jalna (Maharashtra in 1895) and was known as Dar Ul Majanin.
071915Quarantine Hospital (Popularly known as Koranti Hospital or Fever Hospital) now Sir Ronald Ross Institute of Communicable and Tropical Diseases, located in Nallakunta, Hydrerabad was established.
08.1926Hyderabad Medical School, later Afzalgunj Hospital was renamed and converted into Osmania Medical College by Royal Decree.
09.1935Nizam’s Ayurvedic College was inaugurated by the Prince of Berar.
10.1938Nizamia Tibbi Unani Medical College Hospital or Charminar Dawakhana was founded.
11.1948Fernandez Hospital for women and new-borns established.
12.1949Niloufer Hospital was inaugurated.

 Further to the above, around 1947 Hyderabad Asbestos and many other companies such as Hyderabad Lamination Products, Hyderabad Soap Factory, Decan Chemical Works, The Baba Water Manufacturing Limited, Vasu Deva Ayurvedic Pharmacy Limited, Deccan Potteries and Enamel World Limited, Charminar Potteries, etc were established under his rule. HEH The Nizam in December 1914, took over the direct administration of the Hyderabad State and issued Firmans (Royal Charters) for the new developments for the welfare of his people. He initiated measures to modernize Hyderabad city and ordered construction of numerous buildings of public utility and services. The Nizam’s Government in 1928 introduced Air-conditioned Tourist Railway coaches. He gave priority for the development of industries and several new industries were established under his rule. He took interest in the social-cultural welfare of the people and implemented Tribal reforms. The displaced Tribals-Gonds-Lambadas were rehabilitated, and he issued orders granting them free education, hostel accommodation and food facilities. Nizam’s schemes brought all round prosperity. In Nizam’s Government, no Income tax was levied in the State for the benefit of the people unlike the burden of Income Tax that is now levied upon the people by the present democratic government.

Nizam’s State Film Industry

Nizam’s State Film Industry was no lesser than today’s Bollywood or Tollywood. In year 1927 Royal Talkies and in 1930 Yakuth Mahal was constructed. Followed by Moti Mahal in 1930, Zamarrud Mahal 1934, Manohar Talkie in 1934, and in 1939 Abids Shop was converted into a theatre and later renamed Palace Theatre. Some other old theatres which survived and some others which were lost with time are Minerva, Amar, Dreamland, Rameshwar Talkies, Paradise, Rahat Mahal to name a few are from the erstwhile Nizam’s era.

No dynasty or democratic governments have contributed and developed Hyderabad as much as the contributions made by Nizam’s Asaf Jahi Dynasty of Hyderabad and Berar. Despite after 75 years of Indian independence, various political parties that governed India, failed to provide even basic toilet facilities for many of its citizens, due to which they are still forced to answer the call of nature either in the cover of darkness in the bushes or on the train tracks. Recently in 2018, the Indian Government realised the right to basic amenities and started “Pradhan Mantri Sauchalay Yojana Free Toilet Scheme”. But unfortunately, these political parties who can’t even provide basic toilets to the citizens, today dare to tarnish the Asaf Jahi Dynasty Nizams who developed Hyderabad State and modernised it even before India got its independence.

His Exalted Highness Nizam VII’s visionary, philanthropic activities and modernisation for his people didn’t ever stop even after the annexation to India. Despite losing his throne and title, HEH Nizam VII continued his efforts to serve the people. In 1964, he ordered the construction of Nizam’s Orthopaedic Hospital and later it was handed over to the Andhra Pradesh Government on a 99-year lease for a nominal monthly rent of Re.1. And in the same year, he created a trust called “The Nizam’s Charitable Trust”  with a corpus of Rs.5 crore for the poor, irrespective of caste and religion, says Nawab Najaf Ali Khan, a grandson of HEH The Nizam VII. “The government must recognise his grandfather’s umpteen contributions and services as his farsighted vision and judicious judgements that transformed Hyderabad into a modern State. Nizam VII worked tirelessly and always thought of providing the best modern facilities for his people irrespective of religion, caste or creed and he contributed tremendously for the development of Hyderabad even after its accession by India,” says Nawab Najaf Ali Khan.

The philanthropic, developmental & farsighted activities undertaken by Nizam VI & Nizam VII for the people of Hyderabad are evidence of their golden era and secular rule. But unfortunately, today the so-called secular liberals & far-right Neo-Nazi ideology take an oath on Indian Constitution but never stop invoking Nizams to benefit from their divisive politics & incite hatred in the society. A far-right politician and state president of BJP says, “his party will return properties to Hindus grabbed by the Nizam”. Another right-wing politician who’s the national president of the same party says “KCR the current Chief Minister is following in the footsteps of Nizam”. Another top leader claims that his party wants to free Hyderabad from Nizam’s culture and modernise it”. Every day in the local & national media we come across such hateful divisive politics that forced one of the grandsons of HEH The Nizam to complain to the Indian Election Commission & ask the Indian Prime Minister Modi to stop the hateful rhetoric from demonising Nizam. It’s worth mentioning that the Right-wing party which’s today demonising Nizam neither existed during the Nizam’s era nor its Khakhi clad militants whose ideology is based on Nazi Germany ever participated in the Indian independence movement nor they hoisted the Indian National Flag for 52 years after independence until 2002. Rather, the militant leaders of the then Hindu Mahasabha – the ideology on which today’s right-wing party functions, wrote numerous mercy petitions to the British Colonial Rulers for leniency and early release from prison & a militant affiliated to this group Nathuram Godse also assassinated Mahatma Gandhi – the father of the Indian Nation.

When Sati was freely practiced by Hindus in India, Asaf Jah Nizam IV Mir Farkhunda Ali Khan banned the evil Sati practice a year before his death in 1857 & well ahead of its ban by the British. Asaf Jah V Mir Tahniyat Khan Afzal Ud Daula gave land for the Bombay-Madras Railway line, built the Afzalgunj Bridge & Bazaar. The numerous contributions of Asaf Jah VI Mir Mahboob Ali Khan after assuming his sovereign rights & Asaf Jah VII Mir Osman Ali Khan mentioned above made rapid development in the fields of railways, revenue system, and establishment of silk and cotton mills. Other fields that came under their spotlight include education, judiciary, police, excise, forest, and health. During world war 1 and World war 2 the last Nizam VII extended military, financial and material support to the British. He generously donated money to educational institutions like Aligarh Muslim University, Benaras Hindu University, Shivaji Vidyapeeth, the Bhandarkar Institute, and Santiniketan. He then also gifted away 14,000 acres of land to Acharya Vinoba Bhave for the Bhoodan Movement in Pochampally near Hyderabad city. After India got independence, Nizam VII refused to merge Hyderabad State with India as he wanted to retain Hyderabad as an independent sovereign nation under Commonwealth. But Hyderabad was annexed by the Indian forces through a military action code-named Operation Polo & thousands of Muslims were massacred and in November 1948 the Nizam acceded to the Indian Union for the safety and interest of his people, thereby bringing down the curtains on the 225 years rule of Asaf Jahi Dynasty in Hyderabad State.

It’s important to mention that during all these events & years, Nizam VII never left or abandoned Hyderabad or Hyderabadi citizens like his last Prime Minister Mir Laiq Ali and many others who left for Pakistan after independence. Whereas the Asaf Jahi Dynasty Nizams were born here, they lived, ruled, died & are buried in Hyderabad State. Asaf Jahi Nizams left us a legacy of rich heritage and culture behind them & it’s the duty of the present government to protect it and acknowledge the everlasting contributions made by the Asaf Jahi Nizams of Hyderabad and Berar State.

Ahmed Shareef Askander is an Ex-Intelligence Officer, Digital Forensics Analyst and Researcher based in London, UK.

Back to top button