The Nizams were the 18th-through-20th-century rulers of Hyderabad. Nizam of Hyderabad (Nizam ul-Mulk, also known as Asaf Jah) was the title of the monarch of the Hyderabad State (as of 2019 divided between the state of Telangana, Hyderabad-Karnataka region of Karnataka and the Marathwada region of Maharashtra). Nizam, shortened from Nizam-ul-Mulk, meaning Administrator of the Realm, was the title inherited by Asaf Jah I. He was the viceroy of the Great Mughal in the Deccan, the premier courtier in Mughal India in 1724, and the founding “Nizam of Hyderabad”.
When the British achieved paramountcy over India, they allowed the Nizams to continue to rule their princely states as client kings. The Nizams retained internal power over Hyderabad State until 17 September 1948, when Hyderabad was integrated into the new Indian Union. The Asaf Jah dynasty had only seven rulers. The seventh and last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, fell from power when India annexed Hyderabad in 1948 which is known as operation polo or police action.
Asaf Jah I – Qamaruddin Khan
The founder of this dynasty was Mir Qamaruddin Khan, a noble and a courtier of the Mughal Muhammad Shah, who negotiated for a peace treaty with Nadirshah, the Iranian invader; got disgusted with the intrigues that prevailed in Delhi. He was on his way back to the Deccan, where earlier he was a Subedar. But he had to confront Mubariz Khan, as a result of a plot by the Mughal emperor to kill the former. Mubariz Khan failed in his attempt and he was himself slain. This one on one took place in AD 1724, and henceforth Mir Qamaruddin, who assumed the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk, conducted himself as an independent ruler. Earlier, while he was one of the Ministers of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah, the latter conferred on him the title of Asaf Jah. Thus, begins the Asaf Jahi rule over Golconda with the capital at Aurangabad.
The Asafjahi Nizams are generally counted as seven, though they were ten. Nasir Jung, Muzaffar Jung, (son and grandson of the Nizam I who were killed by the Kurnool and Cuddapah Nawabs) and Salabat Jung who together ruled for a decade, were not counted by the historians and the Mughal emperors at Delhi only recognized them just as Subedars of the Deccan.
The authority of the founder of the State of Hyderabad, Asafjah I, extended from Narmada to Trichinapally and from Machilipatnam to Bijapur. During the period of Afzal-ud-Daula (Asaf Jah V) (AD 1857–1869) it was estimated to be 95,337 sq. miles (2,46,922.83 km2), forming a lateral square of more than 450 miles (724.17 km) each way.
After Nizam I, Asaf Jah, died in AD 1748. There was a tussle for power among his son, Nasir Jung, and grandson Muzaffar Jung. The English supported Nasir Jung whereas Muzaffar Jung got support from the French. These two heirs were subsequently killed by Nawabs of Kurnool and Cuddapah, one after another, in AD 1750 and AD 1751, respectively. The third son of Nizam I, Salabat Jung became the ruler as Nizam under the support of the French.
Hostilities recommenced in India between the French and the English in AD 1758 on the outbreak of Seven Years’ War in Europe in AD 1756. As a result, the French lost their power in India and consequently, it also lost influence at Hyderabad. In AD 1762 Nizam Ali Khan dislodged Salabat Jung and proclaimed himself as Nizam.
Asaf Jah II – Nizam Ali Khan
The fourth son of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, Nizam Ali Khan was born on 24 February 1734. He assumed the Subedari of the Deccan at the age of 28 years and ruled the Deccan for almost 42 years – the longest period among the Nizams. His reign was one of the most important chapters in the history of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. Among his efforts to consolidate the Nizam empire was the shift of the Deccan capital from Aurangabad to Hyderabad. He ruled the Deccan at a most critical period and got very successful support from the Paigah Party. He protected the Deccan from the attack of the Marathas and Tippu Sultan of Mysore by signing a mutual protection treaty with the British.
After a reign that played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Nizam dynasty, Nizam Ali Khan died in 1803 at the age of 69. He was buried at the Mecca Masjid alongside the tomb of his mother Umda Begum.
Asaf Jah III – Mir Akbar Ali Khan Sikander Jah
Mir Akbar Ali Khan Sikander Jah, Asaf Jah III was born on 11 November 1768. After the death of the Nizam Ali Khan he became the Subedar Jah was ratified by the emperor Shah Alam II and he also conferred all his father’s titles on Sikander Jah.
Asaf Jah IV – Mir Farkhunda Ali Khan Nusir-ud-Dawlah
Mir Farkhunda Ali Khan Nusir-ud-Dawlah was born in Bidar on 25 April 1794. He was the eldest son of Sikander Jah and after his father’s death, he succeeded him on 23 May 1829. During the reign of his father, a number of British officers were employed on several civil services. Hence on ascending the throne in 1829 one of the first acts of his highness was to request the Governor-general, Lord William Bentick to the European officers.
Asaf Jah V – Mir Tahniath Ali Khan Afzal-ud- Dawlah
Mir Tahniath Ali Khan Afzal-ud- Dawlah was born on 11 October 1827. He was the eldest son of Nawab Nasir-ud- Dawlah. He ascended the throne on 18 May 1857 and Indian mutiny was stated on 17 July 1857 Rohillas attacked the residency, but Sir Salar Jung put down the attack with a firm hand. Similarly, trouble was started in Solapur, but the Maharaja of Solapur was unable to control.
Asaf Jah VI – Mir Mahboob Ali Khan
Mir Mahboob Ali Khan was born on 17 August 1866. He was the only son of Nawab Afzal-ud-Daula Asaf Jah V. When his father died, he was two years and seven months old. He was installed as the Munsab by Sir Salar Jung I, Nawab Rasheeduddin Khan, Shar-ul-Ummul and the residents, there functioned as the Reyab. Shar-ul-Ummul died on 12 December 1881 and Salar Jung become the sole regent. He was remembered administrator and regent till his death.
He is popularly known for his efforts to abolish the practice of Sati and having supernatural healing powers against Snakebite.
Asaf Jah VII – Mir Osman Ali Khan
Mir Osman Ali Khan was born in Hyderabad on 5 April 1886 at Purani Haveli. Since he was the heir-apparent, great attention was paid to his education, and eminent scholars were engaged to teach him English, Urdu, Persian. On 14 April 1906 he was married to Dulhan Pasha Begum, daughter of Nawab Jahangir Jung, at Eden Bagh at the age 21.
He is credited for various reforms in education and development and remembered for being a truly secular King by giving yearly donations to various temples. He made large donations to educational institutions in India and abroad, he donated Rs 10 Lakh for the Banaras Hindu University and Rs 5 Lakh for the Aligarh Muslim University.
He set up the Osmania University, Osmania General Hospital, Osmania Medical College, State Bank of Hyderabad, South India’s first airport -the Begumpet Airport, Nizamia Observatory, Government Nizamia General Hospital, etc.
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