ASIF JAHI DYNASTY (1724 - 1948)

The seven rulers of the Asif Jahi Dynasty

In 1724 Nizam-ul-Mulk Asif Jah I founded the Asif Jahi Dynasty and seven generations of the family ruled the Deccan for 224 years upto 1948. During this period several buildings of archaeological and public importance were built. Notable among them are: Purani Haveli, Chow Mahalla Palace, Osmania University, Jubilee Hall, Assembly Building, Asifia Library, Osmania Hospital, High Court, and all the buildings in the Public Garden.

NizamCol.jpg (21477 bytes)

1724 - 1748
1762 - 1803
1803 - 1829
1829 - 1857
1857 - 1869
1869 - 1911
1911 - 1948

The origins of the Asif Jahi dynasty can be traced to Chin Qalich Khan who was the grandfather of the first Nizam and the commander of the Mughal army during Aurangzeb’s reign. Chin Qalich Khan led the attack of the Mughal army into the Deccan under his Emperor’s ambitious plans of expanding the Mughal empire. During Aurangzeb’s last siege of Golconda in 1687, Chin Qalich Khan was wounded. He died in Atapur village near Himayath Sagar.
Chin Qalich Khan’s son, Nawab Ghaziuddin Khan, married the daughter of Sadullah Khan, Prime Minister of Aurangzeb. A son was born, and the Emperor named him Mir Qumaruddin. At the age of six, Mir Qumaruddin accompanied his father to the Mughal court. Aurangzeb awarded him a mansab, and said to his father, “The star of destiny shines on the forehead of your son”. Mir Qumaruddin displayed considerable skill as a warrior and at the age of nineteen, the Emperor bestowed on him the title “Chin Fateh Khan”. At 26, he was appointed Commander in Chief and Viceroy, first at Bijapur, then Malwa and later of the Deccan.
Subsequently, the Mughal empire declined. There was much confusion after the death of Aurangzeb, and Mir Qumaruddin established his position as Viceroy Farukh Siar who was the Mughal Emperor for a brief tenure conferred on Mir Qumaruddin the title Nizam-ul-mulk Fateh Jung. He thus became the first Nizam. A subsequent Emperor, Muhammad Shah bestowed on him the title Asif Jah. The dynasty of the Nizams of Hyderabad thus came to be known as the Asif Jahi Dynasty.
Unrest and claims to the throne continued after the death of Aurangzeb, and amidst the general confusion, Asif Jah had little difficulty in asserting his independence from the weak occupants of the Delhi throne. At that time, Asif Jah was the Sudedar of Malwa. However, his independence was the cause of much jealousy, and the Delhi court secretly instructed Mubrez Khan, the Subedar of the Deccan, to oppose him. A battle was fought at Shakar-Khelda in the district of Berer in 1724, where Mubrez Khan was defeated and killed. This battle established Asif Jah's supremacy in the Deccan. After gaining independence, Asif Jah came to be known as Nizam-ul-Mulk. He first set up his capital at Auragabad but later moved to Hyderabad, which became the capital of the Asif Jahi dynasty.
Nizam-ul-Mulk's greatest achievement was the foundation of the Hyderabad Dominion. He attained his object by waging a struggle against the Marhattas and by the policy of non-involvement in the rivalry for power between the British and the French. His policy has been justified by later events as Hyderabad state survived right through the period of British rule upto the time of Indian independence.
Asif Jah ruled wisely and established an independent state in the Deccan. He was one of the ablest statesmen. However, his death at Burhanpur on 21st May 1748 at the age of 78, was followed by a struggle for the throne. By this time, foreign powers were spreading their tentacles. Asif Jah's second son Nasir Jung was supported by the British whereas Muzafar Jung, grandson of Asif Jah, was supported by the French. Nasir Jung succeeded; but after a brief rule he was slain in 1750 in an encounter with the French troops at Arcot. Thereupon, Muzafar Jung ascended the throne. In the following year he was murdered and his son Salabath Jung was put on the throne. In 1762 Salabeth Jung was dethroned by his brother Nizam Ali Khan, and confined at Bidar where he died in 1793.
Hence, Nasir Jung, Muzafar Jung and Salabath Jung, who were contestants for the sovereignty of the Deccan in the short span of thirteen years between the death of Asif Jah and accession of Nizam Ali Khan, have not been historically recognised as reigning Nizams. If they had been, Nizam Ali Khan would have been known as the fifth Nizam and not the second.
Nizam Ali Khan ascended the throne in 1763 and he ruled Hyderabad for almost forty years. This was one of the eventful periods in the history of India. Foremost among competitors for supremacy in the Deccan were the Marhattas and it was during this period that the famous French adventurer Monsieur Raymond was employed by Nizam Ali Khan.
Nizam Ali Khan died in August 1803 at the age of 72 years after a long and strenuous reign.
The succession of Sikandar Jah as Nizam was undisputed and he appointed Mir Alam as his Prime Minister. With the accession to the throne by Sikander Jah and end of war with the Marhattas, there commenced an entirely new era for Hyderabad. Unfortunately in 1808 the able Minister Mir Alam died and it was he who was responsible for maintaining good relations wit the British. In 1809, Mir Alam’s son Munir-ul-Mulk was appointed as Minister.
Sikander Jah died in May 1829 at the age of 62 after reigning for almost 26 years. Secunderabad was named after him. Sikander Jah was succeeded by his eldest son Nasir-ud-Daula. It was during his reign that Salar Jung was appointed as the Minister in 1853. Salar Jung guided the affairs of the Deccan with great wisdom and introduced several reforms to improve the finances of the Dominion.
On 17 May 1857 Nasir-ud-Daula died and his son Afzal-ud-Daula became the fifth Nizam. This was the first time the first war of Indian Independence was fought in the North and there was general disorder in the Deccan.
After a reign of twelve years, Afzal-ud-Daula expired on 26 February 1869 at the young age of forty three years, leaving behind the infant prince Mir Mahboob Ali Khan who was hardly three years old.
Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, who was born on 18 August 1866, was the only son of Afzal-ud-Daula. He was installed on the masnad by the British Resident and Sir Salar Jung, who also acted as the co-regent. Salar Jung died in 1883 and a provisional council, consisting of five members, with Mahboob Ali Khan as president and Mir Laiq Ali Khan, son of Salar Jung, as secretary was appointed for administrative purposes.
Special attention was paid to the education of Mahboob Ali Khan. With the concurrence of Salar Jung, Capt. John Clerk was appointed as his tutor. However, the personality of Salar Jung had a great influence on his life. Brought up under the guidance of this great statesman, Mahboob Ali Khan grew in his later years to be one of the greatest rulers of his time. He was a respected and dignified personality and was popularly know as ‘Mahboob Ali Pasha’. He died on Tuesday 31 August 1911.
Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh and the last Nizam of Hyderabad ruled for 37 years (1911 - 1948). His Dominion was lager than England and Scotland put together, with an area of 86,000 Sq. miles.
The seventh Nizam led a very simple life, yet he was one of the richest men in the world. He donated generously to every cause in India as well as abroad irrespective of caste and religion. If it was the Muslim theological school at Deoband which received financial help, it was also the privilege of the Benaras Hindu University. His list of donations included Rabindranth Tagore’s Shantiniketan and several other institutions including hospitals, schools, for famine relief, etc. The golden temple in Amritsar also enjoyed an annual donation.
The Nizam’s rule saw the growth of Hyderabad economically and culturally. Electricity, railways, roads and airways developed. Huge reservoirs and irrigation projects such as the Tungabhadra, and Nizamsagar were completed. The early work on Nagarjunasagar was undertaken. The Osmania University, Colleges and Schools were founded throughout the state. Nearly all the public buildings currently in such as the Osmania General Hospital, High Court, Central State Library, Assembly Hall, Jubilee Hall and other buildings in the Public Garden were built during Osman Ali Khan’s reign.
Soon after India gained independence in 1947, all princely states were invited to join the Republic. Nizam VII was reluctant to do so; but in 1948, after the Police Action, Hyderabad state was merged into the Indian Union. Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam, died on Friday 24 February 1967. It was end of the princely era.

Click here to see Nizams Jewellary

Nizam Currency


Hyderabad State Forces
His Exalted Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad is the Ruler of the premier Indian State, which has a population of over fourteen million, and covers 83,000 square miles in Southern India. He maintains three regiments of Lancers organized as a Cavalry Brigade and, in addition, three Infantry battalions, a Horse Artillery Battery and a Transport Section. His forces number nearly five thousand in all. A regiment of Hyderabad Lancers served with the Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade on the Suez Canal and in Palestine during the Great War. The officer shown in Full Dress in our picture is the commander of the Cavalry Brigade; the Char Minar, Hyderabad, appears in the background.

The rule of the seven Nizam's saw the growth of Hyderabad State both culturally and economically. Huge reservoirs, like the Nizam Sagar, Tungabadra, Osman Sagar, Himayath Sagar, and others were built. Survey work on Nagarjuna Sagar had also begun during this time.

Hyderabad, under the Nizam's, was the largest princely state in India. Area wise it was as big as England and Scotland put together. The State had its own currency, mint, railways, and postal system. There was no income tax.

During the Asif Jahi period, Persian, Urdu, Telgu and Marathi developed simultaneously. Persian was the official language up to 1893 and then Urdu up to 1948. Although the Muslims represented less then 15% of the population, they filled almost all government posts including those in army and the police. In population, revenue and importance, it was the premier State in the country. Hyderabad had its own coinage, paper currency and stamps.

Labels - in Hindi & Urdu language were printed for Hyderabad War as “FAITHFUL ALLY”
to collect funds. (See arrows)

Nizam Mir Usman Alikhan Bahadur succeeded to the throne on 29th August 1911. After 1918, Nizam was granted the title of “Faithful Ally of the British Government”, by the King Emperor.

As per British Museum, Main towns in Hyderabad State in 1900:
Aurangabad, Bolarum, Chadarghat, Gulbarga, Hyderabad, Mahabubnagar, Nizamabad, Raichur, Secunderabad, Warangal

Independence of Hyderabad State (Telangana):

After the announcement of the plan by the Crown, regarding the status of the Indian States vide Indian Independence Act, the Nizam issued a firman on 26th June 1947 declaring that Hyderabad would neither participate in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan nor of India and making it clear that on 15th August he would be entitled to resume the status of an independent sovereign.

On 11th July 1947, the Nizam sent a delegation to Delhi to meet Lord Mountbatten and the States Department, to negotiate on Dominion Status for Hyderabad or accession of Hyderabad to India. But no agreement was in sight till 15th August 1947. Therefore 2 months extension was given to Nizam. Negotiation again started from 17th August, but reached a stalemate, even after 3 months. By 18th October, Mr. V. P. Menon prepared a draft of Stand Still Agreement, which was acceptable to Sardar, Nehru and Lord Mountbatten. It was also approved by Nizam. On 27th October 1947, a melodrama was enacted by Razakars, a para military wing of Ittehad-ul-Musalmeen, who prevented the delegation to leave for Delhi. The delegation was dissolved and a new was appointed. The new delegation tried to change, the agreement but failed. Therefore, the Stand Still Agreement was signed on 29th November 1947.

A registered letter posted from Hyderabad Residency Post Office dated 18th June 1948, which was received at Bombay on 21st June 1948.
Indian Post Office was working in Hyderabad without any problem, though the State was creating problems with India.

The Government of India implemented the Stand Still Agreement and withdrew the Indian Army from Hyderabad. But Nizam wanted to buy time to assert his independence. He went on persisting his negative approach. In April 1948, Nizam rejected the suggestion of India, to hold plebiscite in Hyderabad to test the will of the people on the issue of accession. On 16th April 1948, Sardar Patel warned that India would not ever agree to Hyderabad’s independence. The Indian Government also noticed that the activities of the Rajakars grew in intensity and violence and border incidents assumed grave proportions. The Indian troops were posted on the Indian boundary to prevent the import of Pathans and Muslims into the State. In an endeavour to convert the minority into majority in the State, Muslims were encouraged to emigrate and Hindus were terrorized to migrate from the State. There was a complete breakdown of Law and Order.

Unable to bear the deplorable condition of the State, some prominent citizens including several eminent Muslims wrote to Nizam about the deteriorating conditions of Law and Order and urging him to disband Rajakars. When the letter was published in Urdu paper Imroz, his editor was hacked to death by Rajakars, on order of Kasim Rajavi the leader of Rajakars.

On 7th September 1948, the Indian Government requested Nizam to take immediate steps to disband the Rajakars who were involved in murder, rape, arson and pillage and had created wide spread anarchy within Hyderabad.

When Nizam’s Government blamed India for the activities of Rajakars, a decision on 9th September 1948 was taken to send Indian troops into Hyderabad to restore peace. An ultimatum was delivered by Mr.V. P. Menon, Secretary to the Ministry of States to the Nizam on 10th September 1948.

During “OPERATION POLO” or “POLICE ACTION”, the postal services in Hyderabad were effected in the 3rd week of September 1948. Letters addressed to Hyderabad were returned to sender with appropriate hand-stamps.

The first is dated 20th September 1948 posted from Madras, which received a hands-stamp reading “SERVICE TEMPORARILY / SUSPENDED RETURNED / TO SENDER.”
The second is also dated 20th September 1948 posted from Poona, received a hand-stamp, reading “SERVICE SUSPENDED”.

On Monday September 13th morning, the Indian forces marched into Hyderabad. They were commanded by Major - General J. N. Chaudhri under the direction of Lt. General Maharaj Sri. Rajendrasinhji, who was then the General Officer Commanding in Chief, Southern Command. This operation was given the name “Operation Polo” by the Army Head Quarters and “Police Action” by the then Governor General Mr.C. Rajagopalachari. It was a two pronged advance, the main force moving along the Sholapur - Hyderabad road, a distance of 186 miles, and a smaller diversion moving along the Bezwada - Hyderabad Road, a distance of 160 miles.

On the evening of 17th September 1948, the Hyderabad army surrendered. On 18th September 1948, Indian troops entered Hyderabad city. The operation lasted for 108 hours. Major General Chaudhri took charge as Military Governor on 18th September 1948 and remained till December 1949. After him Mr.M. K. Vellodi, I.C.S., took over the administration of the State as a Chief Minister.


Some Incidents:

Hours before the invasion, Mir Nawaz Jung (1903-94), Nizam's Agent-General in London, transferred more than one million pounds of Hyderabad state funds into Pakistan High Commission's account at Westminster Bank. This money remains in dispute to this day and has not been released by the bank. A Hyderabad delegation that included Professor Muhammad Hamidullah left for the U.N. to plead their case, but before he arrived, the U.N. Hyderabad state was liquidated (five days after the Indian invasion). Hyderabad had a predominantly Hindu population under a Muslim ruler. While the U.N. chose not to deliberate on the liquidation of Hyderabad Deccan, a U.N. resolution was passed on predominantly Muslim Kashmir.



For Telugus it was a time of confusion. Under the Nizam's rule the people living in Telangana never enjoyed freedom. Rulers of other princely states agreed for a common constitution for the country. But Nizam wanted to be independent. The people were terrorised. The Indian Government waited and watched, while he gathered arms from Goa which was under Portugese rule. The freedom fighters pitched tents outside the state and continued their struggle. They even established a radio station in Kurnool to propagate freedom to the people. The Nizam's car was bombed, his Ministers were harassed and their houses were damaged. But the Nizam went about sending ambassadors to Pakistan and London. He even filed a writ in U.N.O. on India!


The unbridled feudal exploitation in Telangana in Nizam's time led to the peasant upsurge, and the armed struggle that ensued shook the whole country. Swamy Ramananda Theertha was the top most leader against the Nizam. The organised movement against arbitrary evictions, forced and bonded labor and illegal exactions took a militant turn and became an agrarian revolt and culminated into armed struggle with guerilla tactics. But the movement could not withstand the might of the Indian Army and Police force.


Police and some people favorable to Nizam burned down whole villages. Indiscrete police firing on people was a routine affair. The people opposed it tooth and nail. But the Nizam Usman Ali Khan was unrelenting. As a final step the Indian Government came to the rescue of the people by sending armed forces on 13 September 1948, into the Nizam's Dominion. The `Iron Man of India', Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the then Home Minister of India took this extreme step and released the people from the Nizam's oppression. With the Nizam's forces surrendering, he fled to Pakistan. Thus ended the freedom struggle of the Telugus.


The erstwhile Madras State was dismembered and Andhra state was formed in 1953 following the fast unto death undertaken by Potti Sree Ramulu for a separate state. The main reason for the demand for a separate state for the Telugus was the discriminatory treatment meted out to the Andhra areas particularly in the fields of irrigation and power which are the lifelines for the economic development of any area. P.Sundarayya was the main architect of `Visalandhra' for the unification of the 30 million Telugus in one state.

Under the States' reorganization scheme, Andhra Pradesh was formed on 1 November 1956. It is the 5th largest state of Indian territory, with 23 revenue districts falling into 3 natural regions comprising of 9 Coastal Districts, 4 Rayalaseema Districts and 10 Telangana Districts, with a population of 31 millions, at the time of its formation.

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Books on Nizams, Telangana and Hyderabad:

The Global World of Indian Merchants, 1750-1947 : Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama
by Claude Markovits (Author) (Hardcover - September 2000)
Avg. Customer Rating: 5.0 out of 5 stars
THE SPLENDOUR OF HYDERABAD — The last Phase of an Oriental Culture: (1591-1948 A.D.) M. A. Nayeem
Social and Cultural Geography of Hyderabad City: A Historical Perspective
by Dharmendra Prasad
Hyderabad : memoirs of a city
by Narendra Luther
Hyderabad and British Paramountcy, 1858-1883
by Bharati Ray 
The Asif Jahs of Hyderabad : their rise and decline
by Rajendra Prasad
Golconda and Hyderabad
by Shehbaz H. Safrani
City of legends : the story of Hyderabad
by Ian Austin
Princely India: Photographs
by Deen Daya
Hyderabad: After the Fall (Hhs Monograph Series, No 4)
by Omar Khalidi
Mediaevalism to Modernism: Socio Economic and Cultural History of Hyderabad, 1869-1911
by Sheela Raj
Telengana Movement, 1944-1951
by Barry Pavier 

Suggest us a book on Telengana History

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