Thursday, December 7, 2006

The last days of the last Nizam

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad -- 52

The last days of the last Nizam
By Narendra Luther

Three kilometers from Masab Tank stood the King Kothi surrounded by walls, which had not been whitewashed for some years. It still housed the Nizam. He was no longer the ruler but his legend survived and even flourished. The richest man, the most miserly man, the proudest prince who had been humbled, the man whose word was law for close to four decades, who issued orders on everything expect on the rising and setting of the sun, who could pick up any woman he liked... he stayed there surrounded by his family, his mistresses, their dependents and their servants -- and their dependents. A whole army of retainers catering to the whims fancies and illusions of one man who was still the absolute ruler within the four walls of his dilapidated palace –the ‘King Kothi’.

He still issued firmans in the old style in Urdu but they pretained to his place affairs or his private dealing. Some firmans just embodied his unsolicited opinions on trivia. It was pathetic to see the descendent of Asaf Jah I who granted concessions to the French and the British trading companies and laid down stiff conditions for their enjoyment, now issued dictats on inconsequential matters to fill up his time. The ‘Nizam Gazette’, an Urdu daily used to publish them regularly. So did some others like the ‘Shiraz’. The following are two typical firmans:

‘ Dated 10 Rabi-ul-awal. 1376H (15 October, 1956)

Regarding: Inayat Ali, Boy aged 17 or 18, son of Khurshid Ali, servant in the palace of private estate.

Pleased to state that this child is also motherless because his mother died in his early childhood. The mother of Wasif Ali who is resident of Nazri Bagh is his father’s sister. Because of changed times, his father cannot bear the expenses of his education. He had, therefore, entrusted him to my care. The child was also willing to come to Nazri Bagh. Therefore, he has joined Wasif Ali

Who can be there, who due to the fickleness of these times wold refuse t entrust his children, whether male or female, to my care? My circumstances are known to the whole world. yet the welfare of the boys and girls staying here is apparent. It won’t be out of place or considered self- praise to stay that these people were lucky that they got such a master of commander who considers them his children and treats them like wise. No doubt about that.’

The second firman:

‘Dated 15 rabi-ul-sani, 1476 H (19 November, 1956)

Regarding: Circumstances of Iqbal Jung***, son of the late Maharaja Peshkar
[Peshkar was Maharaja Kishan Pershad’s hereditory designation] (Born of the late
Guousia Begum)

Pleased to state that the upbringing and education of his boy during the lifetime of his father was not proper. But after the father’s death his condition has worsened. Due to bad company and excessive drinking he developed an enlarged liver (a few years ago). Treating him as an orphan and also because of the fact that my daughter was engaged to him, he was kept in the Nazri Bagh and treated with great care at a time when there was no hope for his cure. It is a matter of satisfaction that he recovered. He was also under a large debt. This could not be discharged from the amount received by way of compensation of the Peshkar’s estate. Nor could it be settled with the sale proceeds if the house (Situated within the compound of the Peshkar’s mansion in the city) which is father had given him during his lifetime for his stay. Out of this amount also part of his debt was discharged through a committe to the sarf-e-khas. Further, in spite of instructions to the contrary, he kept on taking loans without knowledge though for a long time since his coming under my care, his personal needs did not cast any financial burden on his small income (from the compensation for the jagirs of the Peshkar). Even then he did not mend his way (that is, he continued to incur debts).

Because of the foregoing, I had to write these few lines to bring the circumstances of his case to the knowledge of the public. After his declaration, if any one gives him a loan, it will be at his own risk. It will not be repaid from his income, because his income which was credited by way of trust in the private estate of the suf-e-khas has been fully spent (and now nothing is left of his private income). A part from that, if this boy does not become sensible he will get embroiled in litigations. His life will become notorious and he will get into all sorts of troubles. Then he will be deprived of my patronage and his continued stay in the Shadi Khana will become impossible. That’s all.

The Nizam also occupied himself by arranging matches for the offsprings of his retainers, dependents and servants. After the nuptials, he would send for the bedsheet to check weather the girl he had married off was in fact a virgin. He prepared the menus for different residents of the King Kothi according to their rank and status and if someone fell ill, he would prescribe medicine as well as the special diet. He was a staunch believer in the Greco-Arabic (unani) system of the medicine and his prescriptions always proved very effective because nobody dared to re[port otherwise. Many of his patients took his prescriptions and medicines respectfully, but in fact took a proper allopathic medicine. The credit, of course, went to the ‘great healer’. Occasionally he would still send a gift of some fruits or a part of his royal dinner (khasa) and in return get a nazar but that part of his business had tapered off.

The first Nizam had said in his will that he was leaving enough wealth to last seven generations - if properly spent. His successors had squandered it but something was still left when the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, came upon the scene. He set himself the task of augmenting the inheritance.

And then while he was still on the collecting spree, he found that his world had crashed around him and that the sources of funds had all dried up. He was also painfully aware of the marked propensity of his sons to spend recklessly. That was the main point on which he found fault with them. He cautioned them against excessive spending but that had no effect upon them. They spent beyond the purses fixed for them; they incurred debts from all and sundry and the ageing Niam felt angry and embarrassed. But still he worried about what might happen to them after he was no more.

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salman said...

Narendra Luther
Your pathetic 2 paragraphs of the Great Nizam in general are proof of your inadequacy of knowledge and ignorance in the subject matter at hand; not to mention the bitterness you have in your life perhaps, because bigger than life and better people lived before you. Bitter people like you will always look at the lowest bitter thing that happened to someone else, but will never mention the greatness of them. I guess it gives a sense of satisfaction to critize someone who was far greater than you to extinguish your fire of worthlessness.
Have a good life - whatever remains of it.

SURESH said...

I don't really find greatness or worthiness to fantasize and speak great Nizam's life. He collected hard-earned money of people and preserved for his generations in Briton's banks and not even the interest on such are spent on people of earstwhile Nizam's state. Is it not pathetic.

Wajahat said...

It is a curse upon Ala-Hazrath the last Nizam from his many innocent loyal and elite Nobles and subjects whose properties he confiscated unfairly especially immediately after the demise of The Nizam VI Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, not even sparing the women's jewels taking away from their body, and removing them from their houses. So aggrieved and ashamed by his treatment were those innocents that almost nothing is left of the Nizam's name or wealth today.

Noori H said...

Please somebody tell me the BEST book to read about the coming of the Nizam's rule unto the end of his rule? I would love to know when and how the Nizam's rule/kingdom came about? Thank you.

Noori H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
W A Khan said...

The Nizam VI was a much better ruler and a warrior who spent his pastime in the jungles in hunting expeditions if not the battles, but in contrast the Nizam VII spent his time enjoying the luxuries of the palaces and always spending nights with different women begetting dozens of illegitimate kids (Less said the better about his two sons) thousands of dependents, draining the treasury and ultimately running away of Mukarram Jah abroad unable to handle the dependants and dwindling treasury.