Sunday, December 1, 1996

Ustad To Two Nizams

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad : 20

Ustad To Two Nizams
by Narendra Luther

Dagh was the first to become the `ustad' of Nizam VI. His story has been narrated earlier. Dagh died in 1905, but none was appointed to fill his vacancy. Hafiz Jaleel Hassan `Jaleel' Manikpuri came to the city in 1900, and like Dagh had to wait for a long time before fortune smiled on him. The story of his appointment in 1909 is interesting.

Maharaja Kishen Pershad, the Prime Minister of Hyderabad, had organized a mushaira on the occasion of the jubilee of Nizam VI in 1905. The Nizam, Mir Mehboob Ali Khan himself attended it. All the leading poets attended it.

Since it was a special jubilee mushaira, only qasida, that is odes of praise in honour of the Nizam, were to be recited. The length of each poem was restricted to 12 couplets. A tall candle in a gold stand with the personal emblem of Kishen Pershad was brought by a liveried attendant and kept in the centre. Overhead hung a giant chandelier. The walls of the hall had life-size mirrors in gilded frames. The host said a few words of welcome to his ruler, congratulated him on his silver jubilee and wished him many more. After that the master of ceremonies gave a brief introduction of all the poets. As each poet was introduced, he got up and made seven salaams to the royal guest. Then, the proceedings began.

Normally, a mushaira is a loud affair and there is no dearth of praise even from rival poets by way of professional courtesy. But somehow this session was going flat. There was no special applause; no shouts for encore. After a while the Nizam who sat impassively reclining against a bolster, whispered something to the host. Kishen Pershad, in an attempt to enliven the proceedings, broke the order of roll-call and invited the new-comer Jaleel to recite his poem. He was an instant success. The Nizam who was almost dozing off with boredom sat up and uttered an exclamation of praise "Wah. Well done." Everyone else followed him vociferously.

Jaleel could not cope with shouts of praise and he had to stop mid-way at every line to acknowledge the cheers by salaaming with his right hand and in response to shouts for reiteration, he had to repeat his lines - some, many times. When the sitting was over at 4 a.m., and the poets started leaving, Jaleel was asked to stay back. The Nizam wanted to hear the poem again. He liked it very much.

After about a year, at a ceremony in his palace for the start of teaching of the holy Quran to a prince, Mehboob had composed a poem but wasn't satisfied with it. He was stuck on some word. He asked Jaleel for help. Many drafts were made. Only the fourth attempt satisfied him.

A few days later Jaleel was appointed royal tutor on a salary of five hundred rupees a month. He was also appointed a royal companion and given the title of `Fasahat Jung'.

When Mehboob passed away in 1911 and Mir Osman Ali Khan succeeded him, Jaleel's appointment was renewed. So he became the new ruler's tutor and companion as well.

As the official poet, Jaleel was required to attend the court daily and had to compose at least one poem every day and some times more on different occasions of all sorts. The Nizam used to send his compositions to Jaleel's house through a special messenger in a sealed cover. They had to be returned corrected the same day. The bearer would wait on till they were corrected. Some days a dozen poems would come one after the other. The ustad had to be available from around 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. because the special courier could come any time.

The Nizam used to write with a pencil, on scraps of paper and on both sides. Sometimes he wrote on the flap of a cigarette packet if that was the only thing handy at that time. Apart from the needed corrections which had to be made in very respectful terms, the ustad's opinion had also to be given on each couplet and all possible praise showered on those which needed no amendment. Remarks like "Excellent, Congratulations." "Superb. What an idea!" "One in a million; My humble praise", etc. were made in the margin or below a given word or phrase. In addition, a general assessment had to be given on the poem as a whole and it had better be positive. While the poem was written in pencil, the amendments were made in red ink. They were published in the front page of local Urdu papers - corrections and all.

The ustad could not give instructions to anybody else except Kishen Pershad.

In the royal sittings, only the Nizam's poetry was recited and the ustad was expected to make instant corrections, if necessary. Jaleel had also to help Nizam compose chronogram in verse wherever the occasion demanded. Sometimes he would give a line and the ustad had then to compose one or more poems on the basis of the meter and rhyme of the given line.

The job of the ustad was therefore not easy and required perhaps more than the mastery of prosody, a degree of astuteness to survive. But Jaleel did well and served successfully two Nizams from 1909 till his death in 1946. In due course his salary was increased from five hundred to one thousand rupees a month. By a strange accounting procedure, the salary was paid from the State exchequer but routed through the personal estate office of the Nizam -- the Sarf-e-khas. Once, as a measure of economy, the salaries of all Sarf-e-khas employees were reduced by half. Jaleel too suffered the cut. Then, some auditor pointed out that the cut would not apply to Jaleel because he was being paid by the State. The Sarf-e-khas was only a disbursing agency and all the while it was receiving the full amount from the State exchequer. The cut was restored but the arrears were not paid to him. The Nizam told Jaleel not to worry; the arrears some one lakh rupees - were intact; they were with him as his trust, and would be paid to him whenever he needed them. Jaleel never got the amount.

One of his famous couplet is :

Baat saaqi ki naa taali jaayegi,
Ki hai taubaa tod daali jaayegi
(The cup-bearer's offer won't be disregarded My resolve not to drink, shall be violated)

One of Jaleel's sons, Ali Ahmed `Jaleeli' is a respected poet of Hyderabad and has done a doctorate on his father's life and work.

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Tuesday, October 1, 1996

The Rambagh Temple

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 18 :

The Rambagh Temple
by Narendra Luther

We have seen (The Legend of Ramdas - November, 1995 issue) how the temple at Bhadrachalam was built during the rule of last Qutb Shahi ruler, Tana Shah. The Tahsildar of Bhadrachalam had misappropriated some of the state revenues to supplement his resources to build the now famous temple. For this he was imprisoned. But, according to a legend, the dues against him were cleared by Rama and Lakshmana during a nocturnal visit to the Sultan. He therefore, pardoned and released him and also offered to reinstate him. After that a presentation of jewels used to be made to the temple on every Ram Navami day. This practice continued under the Nizams also and even today the chief minister of the State presents the jewels to the deities.

An interesting and indeed surprising incident occurred during the rule of the third Nizam, Nawab Sikandar Jah (1803-29).

The Kayasths were the trusted and prominent civil servants of the Nizams. The Kayasths had come with the first Nizam from the North and settled down in Hyderabad. They adopted the ways of the ruling elite and served as a bridge between the rulers and the subjects in all matters. They made good in their career and some of them rose to high civil and military positions and even to nobility.

One such who rose to nobility in the 19th century was Bhavani Pershad. He was in charge of the salaries of the employees of the royal palaces. When he became prosperous, and was given the title of Raja, he decided to celebrate it by constructing a temple dedicated to Rama. It was constructed near Attapur about 15 kms from the city (off the road which leads from near the Nehru Zoological Park to Rajendra Nagar).

The story goes that the idol of Rama installed there was originally commissioned by Raja Som Bhopal of Gadwal for his own temple. Gadwal was a Hindu samsthan or a tributary estate in Raichur district of the old Hyderabad State. It consisted of the town Gadwal and 214 villages spread over an area of 1384 sq. kms. It is now part of the Mahboobnagar district of A.P. The Gadwal estate had been in existence long before the Hyderabad State came into being. While the idol was being sculpted, the Raja had a dream in which he was told to retrieve an idol from the bottom of a well and install it in the temple.

At the same time, Raja Bhavani Pershad also dreamt of the idol commissioned by Raja Som Bhopal. He told the latter about his dream and made a request for the gift of the idol for his temple. Som Bhopal readily obliged since in his own temple, he had installed the idol which he had been retrieved form the bottom of the well.

When the temple was ready, Raja Bhavani Pershad invited the third Nizam, Nawab Sikandar Jah to perform the ceremony of the installation of the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshamana. The Nizam agreed and the ceremony was performed in 1812. From then on a regular annual `yatra' takes place there on the Rama Navami day. Not only that, the Nizam also granted a jagir for the maintenance of the temple and sanctioned regular payment for persons who looked after the temple.

The archives of the A.P. Government contain two documents relating to this temple. One is from Daftar-e-Istifa dated 6th Rabi-ul-Awwal, 1231 Hijri corresponding to 1816 A.D. This sanctions a daily grant of two rupees to the persons who looked after the temple. The other, issued on 28th Safar, 1239 Hijri corresponding to 1822 A.D. is in favour of Raja Bhavani Pershad and is for the amount of Rs. 2,093, eight annas and four pies (a little more than Rs. 2,093.50 in today's currency) to meet the expenditure for maintenance on the temple.

Farkhunda Buniyad :
Both these documents refer to Hyderabad as the Farkhunda Buniyad suba (province). This was the title given to the city after it was founded by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 A.D. The original name of the city was Bhagnagar, `Farkhunda Buniyad' was the chronogrammatic title in Persian which connoted the year of its completion - 1596 A.D.Incidentally, both `Bhagnagar' and `Farkhunda Buniyad' mean the same thing - `The Fortunate City'.

It is both surprising and inspiring that a Hindu temple should have been inaugurated by a Muslim. Incidentally, this was not held to affect the faith of either the idol - worshippers (Hindus) or those who professed to be breakers of idols (Muslims). This sort of harmony between the two communities was quite common. This and similar acts reinforced the spirit of tolerance and communal harmony bequeathed to the city by its founder, the poet-king Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah who, in one of his poems, said :

There is no kafir or Muslim;
The basis of all religions is love.

Tana Shah, the last ruler of the Qutb Shah dynasty had a Hindu prime minister. He also granted a jagir for the preservation of the Kuchipudi dance form. That is another story.

This spirit became so characteristic of the city that it was widely cited everywhere. In dress, manner of speaking and general behaviour, one could not make out whether a person was a Hindu or a Muslim. This harmony was disturbed only towards the later part of the first half of the 20th century when some communal riots took place and later the Razakar movement raised its ugly head. That however, is to be seen as an aberration in the harmonious flow of history of this city founded on love and built, in the words of its founder, "as a replica of heaven".

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Sunday, September 1, 1996

Some Eccentric Orders

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad – 17

Some Eccentric Orders
by Narendra Luther

Governments all over the world are sometimes found in awkward situations for issuing eccentric or amusing orders. Sometimes what appears to be absolutely normal in one age , may look amusing or eccentric to succeeding generations. In the feudal order there were many practices which in the democratic and constitutional setup of today may seem rather amusing.

We have seen how Dagh was appointed as the poetic preceptor of the sixth Nizam. Given below are some of other orders in the last and early part of this century which may appear to the reader of today as odd eccentric and amusing.

Punishment of an Apprentice :

In the 19th century there was a custom that many persons used to enroll themselves as `candidates' for jobs in government. These `candidates' were not paid any salary till a regular vacancy arose to which they could be appointed. But they did all the work assigned to them. Once such a candidate wrote a note on a file which turned out to be misleading. Salar Jung I ordered on the file that the author of the note should be fined 10 rupees. It was submitted to him that since the `candidate' did get any salary, he could not be fined.

Thereupon Salar Jung ordered that he should be appointed to some post with salary and the fine of ten rupees be deducted from his first salary.

Enhanced Pension by Mistake:

The Sixth Nizam, Mehboob Ali Khan was a very generous ruler. Once his personal attendant requested for superannuation on account of old age and ill-health. While granting the request, the Nizam ordered that he be paid a pension of eight rupees per month for life. In the draft order, due to a mistake, instead of 8, the figure of 80 came to be written. When the Nizam was about to put his signature to the order, the clerk detected the mistake, apologised, and came forward to correct the figure. The Nizam stopped him and observed : "If it was ordained that he would get this fortuitous benefit, how can you or I prevent it ?" He then signed the order and the lucky attendant enjoyed the bounty till the end of his life.

Special Allowance for Beard :

Rehman Khan was a Risaldar Major in the Third Lancers of the Hyderabad Army and worked in the private secretariat of Nawab Afsar Jung, Commander-in-Chief under the Sixth Nizam. He used to accompany Afsar Jung to the Purani Haveli which was the residence of the Sixth Nizam. Once he was riding a horse at great speed within the premises of the palace. He sported a thick long beard which swayed in the air because of the speed at which the horse was galloping. The Nizam watched this spectacle and was very impressed by the flowing beard.

He ordered a special allowance of ten rupees a month for its maintenance. Rehman Khan received this allowance along with his pension till his death.

When The Police Commissioner Was Fined :

Nawab Shahab Jung was the minister for police under the Sixth Nizam. Once due to some reason, he was cross with the commissioner of city police, Akbar Jung. He imposed a fine of one rupee on him. Akbar Jung was naturally very upset at this humiliation. He appealed to the Nizam against the punishment. When Shahab Jung went to pay his respects to the Nizam the nest day, the latter told him that the commissioner was his trusty and a well-wisher. "You have imposed a fine of one rupee on such a person !" Shahab Jung apologised and said that he would reconsider the matter. On return to the office he recalled the file and minuted on it : "Half the fine remitted. Let him pay only half-a-rupee".

And the highest police officer of the city getting a salary of two thousand rupees a month had to pay that fine.

Princesses Barred from the Mosque :

The Seventh Nizam always took two or three of his daughters along with him wherever he went. They accompanied him even to his favourite mosque the Moti Masjid in the Public Gardens for his Friday prayers. The princesses used to sit quietly in the front row till the end of the namaz. Once the Nizam went to the Mecca Masjid. As usual, the princesses also were with him. The famous preacher of Pakistani Punjab, Jamat Ali Shah was present in the mosque. As soon as he saw the Nizam with the princesses he exclaimed agitatedly in Persian : "Kufr az Kaaba bar khezad, kuja manad Musalmani" meaning that if paganism sprang from Ka'aba, what would happen to Islam ? The implication was that the entry of women in mosques without veil being impermissible in Islam, of all the people, Nizam should not commit that infraction. The Nizam on hearing this, turned to his daughters and whispered to them, "Go back. Go and sit in the car and wait".

Transfer of "Sawab" :
Like most nobles Maharaja Kishen Pershad was a great spend thrift. He spent quite a good deal of his income on charity. Consequently he ran into debts and his creditors started pestering him. Thereupon he petitioned to the Nizam for a loan of 200,000 rupees. The Nizam knew the reason for Kishen Pershad's indebtedness. He told him that he would give him the loan on one condition. He would have to give him a promissory note transferring the sawab, for his charity (that is, the reward in the next world for good deeds done in this world) to the Nizam. Maharaja Kishen Pershad signed the deed and thus was able to release himself from the clutches of his creditors.

There were many such instances which appear strange to us today. One day some of the perfectly reasonable orders of today will amuse our grand children.

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Thursday, August 1, 1996

Poetic Tutor of Nizam VI

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 16 :

Poetic Tutor of Nizam VI
by Narendra Luther

The ideal ruler in Islam is a combination of a warrior and a poet. Since every ruler can't be a poet, it was quite common for rulers to appoint a poetic preceptor an ustad - to teach them how to compose poetry, and if necessary, to ghost - write it for them.

In Hyderabad the first Nizam and his son Nasir Jung were poets in Persian. The sixth and the seventh Nizams composed poetry both in Persian as well as in Urdu.

After the fall of the Mughal empire, the annexation of Avadh (Lucknow) and the eclipse of Rampur, Hyderabad became the main magnet to attract Urdu poets in search of fortune from all over the country. Apart from the sixth Nizam, his prime minister, Maharaja Kishen Pershad was also a poet and a patron of letters and arts. It was therefore only natural that poets from all over the country flocked to Hyderabad with great hopes.

The story of the appointment of the first tutor of poetry of the sixth Nizam, Mir Mehboob Ali Khan, is very interesting. He was Nawab Mirza `Dagh', the celebrated Urdu poet (1831-1905). He was born in Delhi and received his education in the Red Fort. After the Mutiny he moved with his family to Rampur where he was treated with special consideration. After the death of Nawab Kalb Ali Khan, he moved to Hyderabad. Though he was greatly admired, he could not get any job. His one great wish was somehow to have an opportunity of an audience with the Nizam.

Ten years passed and he cold not meet the Nizam. Meanwhile, his renown spread all over the State. In the city one special mushaira used to be held every month and in that Dagh used to cast a spell on the audience with the recitation of his compositions.

When the whole city was resounding with the praise of `Dagh', Maharaja Kishen Pershad, the prime minister, one day mentioned about him to the Nizam. The latter sent for him and heard him. He was swept off his feet and was effusive in his praise. From then on Dagh was often invited to join the Nizam at dinner. He would stand for hours in front of the Nizam but did not get any job - nor even a gift. However, he believed strongly that one day Lady Luck would smile on and he would get his due.

One day, the Nizam went for a hunt. There, in the middle of a jungle, all of a sudden, he thought of Dagh. He asked the prime minister, Kishen Pershad to have Dagh fetched immediately. Within two hours, Dagh stood with folded hands before the ruler of the Deccan.

On the evening of the second day, the Nizam was sitting resplendent on a chair in a sprawling field. All the courtiers and members of the staff were standing respectfully on either side. Some riders were giving a demonstration of their horsemanship. The Nizam was watching each of them with great interest. One refractory horse was giving a lot of trouble to his rider but the latter was also an expert. He sat on the back of the horse like a nail riveted to a piece of wood.

All of a sudden the Nizam turned to Dagh and asked him : "Dagh, have you ever done any riding?" Dagh replied with folded hands that in his youth he had done so but years had gone by since then. The Nizam said: "Alright, show me your riding skills today." Dagh shivered at the thought, but had no alternative. On a signal from the Nizam, as if by a conspiracy, the same frisky horse was brought before Dagh. Poor Dagh got on to the horse nervously. As soon as he did that, the horse-trainer cracked his whip on the beast. In an instant Dagh was somersaulting on the ground and the horse bolted away towards the jungle. The entire gathering was rolling with laughter. Dagh was picked up. Fortunately he was not hurt. He dusted himself and came and stood before the Nizam who was still convulsing with laughter. When he recovered, he addressed the crest-fallen Dagh: "You are a good rider. I appoint you as my head syce." Dagh's heart sank. But according to the etiquette, he bowed gratefully and salaamed the Nizam seven times. The Nizam then asked him, "How long have you been in our State ?"

"Ten years, Sire"

The Nizam turned to his prime minister and said: "We appoint Dagh as the court-poet on a salary of one thousand rupees per month." "As His Highness pleases", Kishen Pershad said bowing.

"With retrospective effect. You understand ?"
"Yes, Sire".
"And", added the ruler, "his salary with arrears for the last ten years should be paid right away."

The Maharaja uttered : "Yes, My Lord", in disbelief and retraced his steps. A dispatch rider was rushed with orders to the treasurer in the city for compliance. The Nizam then retired to his tent and all the nobles in attendance swarmed around Dagh to congratulate him. At that time there was no paper money. So the next day the whole city saw carts loaded with silver coins carrying the arrears of ten years' salary of Dagh with police escort arrive at Dagh's house on Abid Road. Dagh then embarked on a life of ease and luxury.

In one of his later ghazals he wrote:

Urate hain maze duniya ke hum ai Dagh ghar baithe Deccan mein ab to Afzal Ganj apni aish manzil hai'

(I enjoy myself sitting at home, My abode is now in Afzal Ganj)

He died in 1905 and was laid to rest in Hyderabad.

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Monday, July 1, 1996

The Greatest Diwan

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 15

The Greatest Diwan
by Narendra Luther

Sir Salar Jung always was correct in his dealings with the child Nizam. He never sat in his presence unless asked to do so and tried his best to inculcate royal virtues in him.

When Mahboob was just about four Nawab Fakhr-ul-mulk gave him a gift of a watch. Mahboob was excited about it. However, Salar Jung not only made the boy return the gift, he also fined Fakhr-ul-mulk ten thousand rupees for his insolence in giving a gift to the ruler. Salar Jung said the ruler only gives, he should not be taught to take. To drive home the point, Salar Jung imported 250 watches with the amount of the fine and made Mahboob gave them away as gifts.

Another incident occurred when the young ruler was about 17 and was yet to be installed formally. Mahboob along with the diwan and his two sons, Kishen Pershad and the English tutor, Captain Clerk, was proceeding by horse-carriages to Aurangabad. Having crossed a stream, the party rested for a while. Salar Jung told the party to finish their lunch quickly sot that they could reach Aurangabad by the evening as planned. Mahboob suddenly decided that he would halt there for the day and would proceed to Aurangabad the next day. Salar Jung and Captain Clerk agreed that Mehboob should be advised that the programmes had been notified to the public. Many people would be waiting at Aurangabad to receive him and so the programme should not be changed. "Punctuality is a royal virtue," Salar Jung told Clerk to advise the callow youth.

Mahboob brushed aside the advice. Clerk then spoke a little firmly and told him they were his (Nizam's) own orders and that he himself should not violate them.

At this rebuke the young ward flared up. With tears in his eyes he said : "You and the diwan are always pushing me. I shall not go. Let me see what you can do." Saying this he stomped into his tent.

When Salar Jung heard this, he was silent for a while and then sighed : "May God take me away before his rule starts." Everyone was stunned by these remarks.

Sharp at 12.00 noon, Mahboob came out of his tent and sent a message to the diwan and his party that they should come and have lunch with him.

On arrival, Salar Jung made a bow and apologized for his insolence in making the suggestions contrary to his master's wishes.

Mahboob smiled, placed his hands on the bowed head of his diwan and said : "No. On the contrary, I am sorry. I acted impulsively." Then he took out his jewelled watch and presented it to Salar Jung.

His Reforms :

When Salar Jung became diwan in 1853, the State was practically bankrupt and without any law and order. The Arabs, the Rohillas, and the Sikh Mercenary armed bands terrorized people.

Salar Jung started by reducing his own salary from Rs. 25000 to Rs. 15000 a month. After that he ordered similar cut across the board for all employees. In exchange he offered regular monthly payment of salaries. This bargain was accepted by employees because hitherto salaries were not paid for years together. This made the employees indebted to unscrupulous money-lenders. The state also owed money to sahukaars. He had their claims closely scrutinized and offered to pay off them the reduced amounts.

Hitherto, the office of the revenue collectors, were auctioned and given to the highest bidder. Even after somebody had been appointed, another person with a higher bid could still be appointed. The joke used to be that the collectors appointed to take charge of their district used to ride their horse with their face towards the tail of the horse - to see who was following them ! Salar Jung made the appointments regular and permanent.

He divided the state into districts and grouped them into five divisions. He also created five ministries with a secretariat and 44 departments down to the level of districts. He brought educated and trained persons from British India on the advice of Sir Sayyad Ahmed Khan to fill new jobs.

The post and telegraph, and the railways were introduced in the state during his time.
Salar Jung also established courts and made the judiciary virtually independent.

He established the Madarsa-e-Aliya for the education of the children of nobles and set up a number of schools all over the state.

During the Mutiny of 1857 Salar Jung sided with the British and helped them crush the uprising against them. It was that which saved the British power in India and they acknowledged it by knighting him.

The city at that time was walled and had 14 gates. Salar Jung himself could not go out of the city without the permission of the Nizam. The street leading to the palace of the Nizam was filthy and the stench of urine was so strong that it was called the Mutri Gali (the Urine Street). Salar Jung wanted to have the sanitation improved and to metal the city streets. But his detractors filled the ears of the Nizam and told him that Salar Jung wanted to do these things in order to make it easy for the British to enter the city !

His Death :

The thought of his death seemed always to be present in Salar Jung's mind. Whenever he went on a longish trip, he always carried with him the paraphernalia required for his funeral.

However, he died at home. Sir Salar was interested in astrology and rummal. He had some retainers who were competent in these. One of them Pandit Mohan Lal, he had an appointment to meet the diwan on the evening of 8th February, 1883. After finishing his work for the day the diwan summoned him and asked him to draw his horoscope at that time. The astrologer forecast prosperity and success. The prime minister examined the horoscope, smiled and then asked the expert teasingly : "But Panditji, the house meant for life is empty." The astrologer tried to explain away the matter and after a while was allowed to depart.

He then came running to Server-ul-Mulk, the young Nizam's tutor and his godfather, woke him up and told him the whole story and said that he hoped his horoscope was wrongly cast.
That very night Sir Salar Jung passed away !

Inspite of all the obstacles and hindrances faced by him and the intrigues against him, Salar Jung administered the state for 30 long years and during that period introduced service far-reaching reforms. He converted a medieval oligarchy into a modern administration. Doubtless, he was the greatest Diwan that Hyderabad ever had.

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Saturday, June 1, 1996

The First Salar Jung

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 14

The First Salar Jung
by Narendra Luther

Mir Turab Ali Khan became `diwan' (prime minister) of Hyderabad at the age of 23 in 1853 and continued in that office till 1883 through the reigns of three Nizams (4th to 6th).

He was given the title of Salar Jung and he was the first of the three with that title - all prime ministers in their own time. The British knighted him.

In 1869 he led Prince Mehboob Ali Khan who was only 2 1/2 years old to the masnad of Hyderabad to become the sixth Nizam.

Salar Jung stayed in a palace called the `Diwan Deodhi'. It was located on a sprawling site on the left as one crossed the Naya Pul. For quite some time it housed the Salar Jung Museum (established by his grandson) before it was moved to a new building. The `Diwan Deodhi' was demolished about 30 years ago. The City Civil Courts are located in the area now.

Sir Salar Jung was a man of regular habits. He rose early and after his ablutions and morning prayers, he would make his appearance on the balcony of his palace. By that time the servants, guards and officials of his palace would line up below. The chobdar a mace bearer - would announce the appearance of the diwan and all the men below would bow their heads and in salutation. After this the diwan would go to his garden where Tippu Khan, the master of the stables, would be ready with some horses, each held by its syce. Some of the his favourite companions would be present there in formal dress. His two sons also joined him off and on. This was the time when some supplicants were allowed to see him. Now and then Salar Jung would go for a ride towards Sarurnagar but would always be back by sunrise.

On return, he would come and hold his darbar. A stream of officials, nobles, petitioners and others would have an audience with him mostly by prior appointment.

His chief usher was a black old man, called Fakir Muhammad. He wore a turban and held a staff in his hand which he did not hesitate to use in order to correct a waiting visitor's posture or any other breach of manner of which he was the sole judge. Once he rebuked a high officer of the Irregular Troops, because while waiting in the hall, he had the temerity to remove his turban for a while. The officer was rudely reminded that he was in the palace of the prime minister and not in his grandmother's house !

A visitor when ushered in had to present five rupees on a handkerchief as a nazar to the diwan. He would then be motioned to sit and make his submission. After a reasonable gap which varied from person to person depending upon their status, one of the attendants would shuffle the bolsters on the masnad. This was a signal that the audience was over. The visitor would then get up, make his bow and leave.

Many visitors resented the overbearing attitude of the chief mace-bearer. But he enjoyed the absolute confidence of the prime minister.

When Salar Jung went out of his `Deodhi' to the royal court, to meet the Resident, or call on one of the nobles, he went in a regular procession.

The convoy was lead by eight to ten camel-riders in red uniform. They were followed by the cavalry unit in red livery with a pennant and trailed by about a dozen drummers and hundreds of Arabs with muskets on their shoulders. Then came the diwan's close companions like Mir Tehwwar Ali, Junaid Khan Jamadar and some other dignitaries mounted on steads flanked and followed by men with silver lances and matchlocks. If the diwan sat on an elephant, spear-bearing livery covered both his flanks.

Occasionally, this procession would be met by a similar procession of a noble coming from the opposite direction. The question of precedence in the narrow lane would cause a problem. Salar Jung, very gracefullly would often ask his people to make room for the other party. Needless to say, unless it was a Paigah, the others generally gave the diwan's train the right of way. Incidentally, the Paigah family, which constituted the highest order of nobility, outranked the diwan. That was the only family with which the Nizam's familiy inter-married.

The diwan was a lavish entertainer. At his dinner parties, there used to be separate arrangements for the English guests and Indian invitees. The baradari was tastefully illuminated with lamps of different colours. Salar Jung was a connoisseur of food. His chef served English, Mughlai, Hindustani and Dakhni dishes. When the time came for the guests to depart, Sir Salar would stand near the exit door and offer long bottles of Indian scent (attar) to them as parting gifts. The number of bottles varied from one to a dozen depending upon the importance of the guest.

Sir Salar Jung was the greatest prime minister of Hyderabad. More about his contribution in the next issue.


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Wednesday, May 1, 1996

Irram Manzil To 'Erra' Manzil

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad : 25

Irram Manzil To 'Erra' Manzil
by Narendra Luther

Under the Nizam there was an hierarchy of nobles. The highest were the Paigah. They were the only ones who inter-married with the Nizam`s family. The next came the Umrah-e-Uzaam i.e. the great nobles. The majority of these were Shias and included two Hindu families also.

One of the Umrah-e-Uzaam was Nawab Fakhr-ul-mulk. We are here talking of his son Fakhr-ul-mulk II (1859-1934). His real name was Mir Sarfaraaz Hussain and his titles included Safdar Jung, Musheer-ud-dowla, Fakhr-ul-mulk II.

He was the first noble who came out of the old city to live in the newer part of the city. In the division of property between him and his elder brother Khan Khana II, a building called Asad Manzil given to him. Opposite the Asad Manzil was the vast open area called Fateh-Maidan where Aurangazeb's troop camped in 1687. Hence the name which means `Victory Ground'.In a corner of this ground was a military club. Army officers used to gather every evening and noisy activities would go on till late in the night. The military band also added to the noise. This caused disturbance to the Nawab's peace and he complained to Nizam VI about it with a plea to have that nuisance stopped.

The Nizam told him that he was a noble and it did not behoove such big men to make complaints about such small things and added that the Nawab could possibly shift to a quieter place. Thereupon Nawab Fakhr-ul-Mulk undertook the construction of a palace at an elevated place in Punjagutta with a commanding view of the Hussain Sagar Lake. He named it Irram Manzil which means a heavenly palace.

According to one story Fakhr-ul-Mulk had a bet with Sir Vicar-ul-Umrah, a Paigah as to who would built a higher palace. The Vicar Manzil and Irram Manzil were built as a result of his competition. As each was more or less at equal height, the match ended in a draw. The Asad Manzil, vacated by Fakhr-ul-Mulk now is the Nizam College. The Fateh Maidan is now a stadium.
Irram Manzil occupied a vast place which had formal gardens, bridle parks, picnic grounds, a pound for boating, tennis court and two full sized polo grounds. An army of servants was employed to cater to the needs of the Nawab and his family.

Nawab Fakhr-ul-Mulk had five sons. All of them were sent to England for studies and they even met Queen Victoria who spoke to them a few words in Urdu. She also helped them to get admission in Eton, an exclusive public school in England.

Like his father, Nawab Fakhr-ul-Mulk was known for his loyalty to the Nizam, but unlike his father he was also very friendly with the British. In 1902 Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy and Governor General of India visited Hyderabad. A banquet was held in his honour at the deodi of Maharaja Kishen Pershad who was then the prime minister. The Viceroy checked the guest list and found that the name of Nawab Fakhr-l-Mulk II was not there. He insisted that he should also be invited. It was done.

At that time Nizam VI had mounted a campaign for restoration of the Berars to him. Lord Curzon had down the request in a stiff letter. So in 1902 when he insisted on the invitation to Fakhr-ul-Mulk, the Nizam suspected that probably the Nawab was siding with the British on the subject of Berar. Next day he called the Nawab and taunted him in a couplet :
"Pighal ke moom ho ya sang ho ja
Do rangi chodh de ek rang ho ja"
(Melt down like a wax, or become hard like a stone Stop this dual policy and join one side)
The Nawab took it as an aspersion on his loyalty to the Nizam. Cut to the quick by his remark, he retorted respectfully: "Your Highness, all that I am is what you have made me. All the titles that I have are those bestowed on me by Your Highness. I do not have any knighthood given by the British." This remark was obviously was an insinuation aimed at Maharaja Kishen Pershad who had the title of KCIE and GCIE conferred upon him by the British. The ring of sincerity was so strong in that reply that the Nizam apologised to the Noble and said that the matter stood clarified.

Irram Manzil was sold to the government during the period of Sir Mirza Ismail's prime minstership (1946-47) to discharge the debts of the family. Sir Mirza made a number of changes in the palace and according to Mir Maozzam Hussian, a grandson of the noble who was amember of in the Hyderabad Civil Service and later was director in UNICEF, Sir Mirza `uglified' the palace. He also planted some terrace gardens of the Mysore variety in the compound.

After the integration of the state in 1956 when Andhra Pradesh was formed, this building was used to house the Public Works Department. That department made other additions to suit its needs.Since it was used as an office the earlier beauty of the place was not maintained. A shed was erected at the entrance to park bicycles and gradually the place was surrounded by a lot of habitation. Now Punjagutta is a bustling area and Irram Manzil has been corrupted into `Erra' (which mean Red in Telugu) Manzil.

The fairy -tale life of one more noble came to an end with the ushering in of the democracy in Hyderabad.

Friday, March 1, 1996

Musa Ram or Musa Rahim

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 11 :

Musa Ram or Musa Rahim
by Narendra Luther

Late in the 18th century, French mercenary soldiers were very spectacular rise of the French general, Bussy, in the Deccan. With a handful of men he routed armies ten times larger than his. That was because his troops were well-trained, disciplined and motivated, which in turn, was due to regular payment of salaries to them. On the other hand, the Indian soldiery was always in arrears of pay and consequently their morale was low.

A romantic French soldier of fortune came to India in 1775. His name was Michel Joachim Marie Raymond. He was barely twenty when his father, who was a merchant in France, sent him to Pondicherry with a consignment of goods to sell. Having made some profit in the deal, Raymond decided to start on a career of adventure. He therefore joined the corps of General de Lasse serving under Hyder Ali of Mysore. From there he moved on to join Bussy when he returned to India in 1783. On Bussy's death two years later, Raymond joined the French force under Basalat Jung, the Nizam's brother who had a jagir at Guntur. When the English compelled Basalat Jung to dismiss this corps, it was taken over by the Nizam and Raymond was placed at its head despite the protest by the English. By 1795, the corps had grown into an army of 15,000 men formed into 20 battalions and officered by 124 Europeans. Raymond was given a jagir in Medak to enable him to pay the salaries of the force regularly - the main reason for its high state of efficiency. Raymond made it self-sufficient in every respect. He established a gun foundry at Hyderabad to manufacture his own guns. Its ruins can still be seen in the locality with the name of `Gun Foundry' near the Fateh Maidan. The Nizam depended heavily on this force and because of this he was confident of tackling the Marathas, who were a constant source of harassment to him.

The battle of Khadla with the Marathas took place in 1795 midway between the forts of Parenda and Khadla near the river Manjira. The English remained neutral because of the provisions of the Treaty of 1768. Captain Kirkpatrick, the English Resident at Hyderabad, who accompanied the forces to the front, observed neutrality so meticulously that when his opinion was asked for on the strategy and tactics adopted by the Nizam's forces, he refused point-blank to give any comments. The Nizam lost the battle.

The Nizam was very sore with the English for not helping him in this battle and he therefore asked the English force to be withdrawn. This done, the Nizam's reliance on Raymond grew, increasing the latter's influence. He was assigned new jagirs to maintain a larger force.

In 1795, the Nizam's eldest son, Ali Jah fled from Hyderabad and raised the banner of rebellion at Bidar. He achieved some measure of initial success. The Nizam dispatched Raymond to subdue the delinquent prince. Raymond captured the rebel prince easily and the diwan, Mir Alam was sent to bring him home. He was brought on an elephant, but the diwan had the howdah of the elephant covered, a practice adopted only in the case of women. The prince could not stand this implied indignity and committed suicide on the way.

When Raymond was at the height of his powers and had ambitious plans, he suddenly died in 1798. He was then only 43. The British, seizing the opportunity, ordered the disbanding of Raymond's corps.

That needed great care and tact because Raymond had been a very popular leader, and the corps provided well-paid jobs to 15,000 families directly and many more indirectly. When the rank and file came to know of the proposal, they gheraoed Pirron and other officers. A mutiny was likely to break out, with consequent bloodshed. However due to exercise of tact and some luck they surrendered peacefully.

By the next evening, Raymond's legendary `paltan' - platoon - had been demobbed. It was now replaced by the English contingent.

Raymond had became a legend in his own life-time, and as time passed, this legend only grew. He was beloved alike of the ruler and his subjects; he was revered by his soldiers of all faiths because he drilled them, marched them, made men out of pariahs, paid them regularly and led them to victories. Even the mercenaries of the English were drawn towards him because his soldiers were paid one rupee a month more than their counterparts in the English army.

And as often happens in such cases, the name Monsieur Raymond was corrupted by its sheer popularity, into Musa Rahim by the Muslims and Musa Ram by the Hindus. He belonged to all and till this day an annual gathering - an urs - is held at his grave in Asmangarh. Lamps are lighted, flowers offered and tributes are paid by the descendants of his soldiers. Two centuries after his death, the name continues tosurvive. It is assured of immortality because there is now a locality called Moosa Ram Bagh which reminds its inhabitants every day of this plucky French soldier of fortune, who, to fulfill history's design was taken away at the prime of his powers.

However, their reverence for this man has not prevented people of the surrounding areas from encroaching upon the land reserved for the obelisk and the pavilion to commemorate him. Every day Raymond's mausoleum gets hemmed in more and more. Already it is difficult to reach it. The day does not seem to be far when the celebrated soldier will have to make do with just the minimum allowed to a dead-man - six feet by three - so that the living around him can also have a shelter over their heads. There is, after all, a limit to what will be spared for the dead. The living, must live till they die. And then it doesn't matter.


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Kirkpatrick and the Residency

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 12 :

Kirkpatrick and the Residency
by Narendra Luther

The first English Resident was appointed at Hyderabad in 1779. His name was Holland and he came as the envoy of the Government of the Madras Presidency. Due to some misunderstanding he was suspended by it. However, the Imperial Government at Calcutta nominated him as its representative at Hyderabad. Since then the Resident came to represent not the Governor of the Presidencies but the Governor-General at Calcutta.

James Kirkpatrick who succeeded his elder brother, William, was the sixth Resident and served for seven years at Hyderabad from 1798 to 1805.

Till then all the Residents had stayed in a garden-house of one of the Nizam's noblemen. Kirkpatrick himself also occupied the same house for some time, but, seeing the expanding and crucial role of the English agent at the court of the Nizam, he proposed to build an official residence for himself. He sounded out the diwan, Mir Alam, about the allotment of a suitable piece of land for the purpose. Mir Alam saw no objection in the proposal and asked the Resident to locate a piece and get a sketch-map of the site prepared so that the Nizam's approval could be obtained. Separately he secured Nizam's permission to the proposal in principle. However, when the sketch-plan wpresented to the Nizam, he took one look at it and threw it away in horror. Kirkpatrick was crestfallen. He asked Mir Alam the reason for this summary rejection. Mir Alam simply laughed. "Resident Bahadur", he chided the Englishman, "You made the plan on a paper so big that it seemed to equal the size of His Highness's dominions. How could he agree to part with that ?" Kirkpatrick, on hearing the reason, joined the diwan in laughter. Obviously, the Nizam was not aware of the principle of scale in drawing.

The Resident then reduced the scale and got the sketch-plan for an extent of 64 acres prepared on a piece of paper about the size of a visiting card. This time the Nizam readily agreed and Kirkpatrick then took up the project of building the Residency on the north side of the river Musi. The building constructed was so grand that on a visit to Hyderabad in 1817, Sir John Malcolm remarked that it was better than the Government House of Madras, and in splendour next only to the Governor-General's House in Calcutta.

The furniture for the Residency came from Carlton House in London. That was the residence of the Prince Regent and he wanted to dispose of his furniture. The directors of the East India Company required some political concession and so they purchased the old furniture at the price wanted by the Prince. Incidentally, the payment for the furniture was made by the Nizam who also maintained the Residency at his cost.

Kirkpatrick enjoyed his new abode. The Nizam granted him an Indian title - Hashmat Jung Bahadur - and it was only appropriate that he should adopt some of the ways enjoined by his new oriental knighthood. Accordingly, the young saheb acquired a mistress who stayed not far from the Residency.

Soon thereafter, Kirkpatrick married a Muslims girl called Khairnussina Begum who was distantly related to Mir Alam. The marriage was celebrated according to Islamic customs and Kirkpatrick wore the dress of a Muslim groom. However, Mir Alam needled by the diwan,Arastu Jah, complained to the Governor- General about the wedding and the embarrassment which it might cause to the Nizam's Government and the British and their mutual relationship. The Governor - General ordered an inquiry into the case but, thanks to the manipulation by Kirkpatrick, a favourable report was sent to the Governor - General. Kirkpatrick also had a letter sent by Khairnussa's mother to the Governor General testifying that the marriage was performed with her consent and blessing. The Nizam also issued a statement in favour of the Resident. The complaint was withdrawn and the complainant even apologized.

Khairunnisa gave birth to two lovely children - a boy, and a girl in the same order. In 1803 both were sent to England for education.The boy died there, but the girl Catherine grew up and married into a good English family. She became known for her beauty and wit and was the first sweet-heart of the great writer Carlyle, who immortalized her in Sartor Resartus as Blumhilde.

In 1805 Kirkpatrick was suddenly taken ill. He was advised a change of air and rest. He left for Calcutta for consultations with the Governor-General. When his boat reached Calcutta, his illness took a turn for the worse and he died when he was barely 41. His marriage had lasted only six years.

Thus passed into history another of those flamboyant characters, one of the early nabobs who strengthened the foundations of the British empire in India. In an age when the expectancy of life was short, men like him and Raymond who packed so much action into their brief life, died young.

Like Raymond, Kirkpatrick too is remembered by the people . His Residency now houses the University College for Women. Its ballroom is used for meetings of the general body of the students. On one of the walls of the building hang the pictures of his two children, William George and Catherine. Khairunissa's apartments - the Rang Mahal - have been altered and converted into laboratories for the physical sciences. The original area of 64 acres has now shrunk to 34 the remaining area having been made over to the Osmania Medical College for a hostel. Some area was given to the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad in 1977 for widening the adjoining road. In the vast and expanding concrete jungle that most of the city is turning into, the Residency still stands as an oasis - a patch of green sprinkled with bevies of young ladies. Close by is the bazaar know after Kirkpatrick's Persian title - Hashmat Ganj. Few people know today that it was named after an Englishman.

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Thursday, February 1, 1996

Three Nazars For The First Nizam

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 9-10

Three Nazars For The First Nizam
by Narendra Luther

The first Nizam, the governor of the Deccan, was also the prime minister of the Mughal empire. In 1739 when Nadir Shah invaded India and was marching towards Delhi, the Mughal emperor was prevailed upon to summon the Nizam to help him deal with the situation. The Nizam obeyed and proceeded to meet the invader at Karnal about 110 kms west of Delhi - close to Panipat. While he was with Nadir Shah, news came to him from the South that, his son Nasir Jung who had been kept in charge of the Deccan province during his absence, had raised a banner of rebellion. Nizam-ul-Mulk cautioned him against such an imprudent course but Nasir Jung was in no mood to listen. The old horse therefore rushed back to deal with his delinquent son. The battle between the father and son was joined near Daulatabad in 1741. The young man fought bravely but many nobles deserted him and he was easily routed. He was brought as a captive into the presence of his father.

After his victory, the Nizam's minister Sayyad Lashkar Khan, offered a nazar to him for his success in crushing the rebellion of his son. He accepted it as a token of the celebration of his victory. Immediately thereafter, the minister offered another nazar "why this second nazar, Khan ?" asked the puzzled patriarch.

"Sire", replied the minister meekly, "the first one was for your victory. The second is for the reason that your son has escaped injury on the battle-field and is safe and sound." The Nizam accepted it with a hint of a smile.

Again, the Khan offered a nazar for the third time.

A frown came over the aging brow. "What is this puzzle, my Khan ? Why this third nazar ?"

This time the minister too smiled and he made bold to give the explanation : "The name of the noble prince is Nasir Jung, my Lord. that means victory in war. The bearer of such a name should not retreat in war. And God be praised, he has justified his name. It is God's grace and your wisdom that the affair has come to a proper conclusion. But the prince is not a coward."

The Nizam beamed this time as he accepted the third nazar. How did the Minister know that these were the exact thoughts going on his mind too ? When he had offered prayers to his Creator after crushing the rebellion, he too had thanked the Almighty for these very three things. A son is a son even in his rebellion. All fathers know it; very few sons realize this.

The father forgave the son. But an example had to be made of him. Lest the Nizam should be taken as a soft ruler, Nasir Jung was kept under close watch for some time after the event.


1762 and ruled till 1803, had two battalions of women soldiers numbering 2,000. They were called `zaffar paltan' or the `victorious platoon'. The female soldiers were called `guardnees' - feminine gender of the English word `guard' in Urdu. They were dressed like the old British soldiers and were regularly trained according to the French system. They accompanied the Nizam on the battle of Khadla with the Marathas in 1795. Their main job was to mount guard in the harem and to accompany the `zenana'. That was probably the first womans' brigade in the world. The defeat of the Nizam in the Battle of Khadla is largely attributed to the panic created by these women when the Marathas mounted a sortie at night. It was a baneful practice with the later Mughals that the women of the nobles and generals also accompanied them on campaigns thus interfering with their unstinted devotion to the mission. In course of time the practice was ended, the supervision of the seraglio being best done by eunuchs according to the age-old practice. The eunuchs were specially selected for this job because they were incapable of any `mischief' with the ladies of the harem. They also ensured the effective observation of the code of morality by them. But these Amazons must have faded gradually. In 1861, Briggs, Assistant Resident at Hyderabad saw six of those girls at the residence of the Paigah. While doing a drill for him, they giggled in shyness like any other girls. At this time they looked quite unmilitary - like with chappals for footwear, unpressed trousers, and wielding bamboo staves.

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