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.
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