Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Nizam of Hyderabad

I first came to know of the Nizam of Hyderabad when I wrote the biography of Dr Ismail Mohamed Ghows, an early Malay doctor from Taiping, Perak. Dr Ghows was descended from the Khatibs of the mosque of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Who was the Nizam of Hyderabad? He was the ruler of Hyderabad. He was once the richest man in Hyderabad. He had a huge palace called the Taj Falaknuma Palace, which means 'Mirror of the Sky' or Heaven on Earth, where he entertained his guests including durbar. The palace is sited 2000 feet above, fronting the sprawling city of Hyderabad below. However, the Nizam did not live here but somewhere else.  Hyderabad joined India in September 1948, and the Nizamhood ceased to exist. The last Nizam was the 8th. It was the 6th Nizam who came to stay in this place one afternoon and liked it and bought it for himself. Today, the grandson of the 8th Nizam is there to show the diamonds and emeralds to visitors.

There are more than 60 suites in the Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel, Hyderabad. The most expensive is the Nizam Suite. There is a library upstairs which has the Guest Book of visitors to the Taj Falaknuma Palace from 1901 to 1951. This is a treasure chest of who's who in the 50 years of the Taj's existence then. The interior is Italian and is filled with Italian furniture, curtains, decor. The lamps and chandeliers are beautiful fittings. The dining room fits 100 guests and the Nizam himself, making it 101 people at a sitting. The dining table is beautifully laid out with lovely fresh bouquets of white and pink flowers and leaves.The metal drinking vessels and cutlery are Indian, with intricate carving. The Taj logo resembles that of the British East India Company, with 2 tigers holding the crest. The metal plates also bear the Taj logo.

The azan (call to prayer) can be heard in the background when dining at dusk on the deck at Taj Falakhuma Palace Hotel. That is probably from the mosque of the Nizam. I'm not sure whether it is the Mecca Mosque in Hyderabad or some other mosque where Dr Ghows ancestors had served. How many mosques belonged to the Muslim Nizam of Hyderabad?

When Hyderabad joined India, there were 22 districts - 12 went to the new state, 10 belonged to Nizam and one was French. Hyderabad was a strong and well-structured state and with a good economy. It had a market, a huge entrance gate to the city, a train station, and mosque(s). There were parades, etc. Hyderabad was a bustling and peaceful place. Its wealth was Hyderabad had the world's largest deposits of diamonds. So that was how rich Hyderabad was and how wealthy the Nizams who had control of the diamonds.

The 8th Nizam of Hyderabad's coronation was in 1967 but the Nizamhood fell apart. The Nizam escaped to Western Australia and lived on a vast piece of land that he bought. It gave him peace and reminded him of life in the Deccan. He lived in the outback, to escape everything that went on in Hyderabad. The Taj collectibles were auctioned off. Relatives had their share of the takings. But the Nizam didn't care about it - he wanted some peace in his life. One day, he told his secretary in his Perth office that he was going to the mosque. He went to the mosque and then went missing. Nobody ever found him.

It should be remembered that for many of the early Malay doctors, their ancestors came from Hyderabad. As far as I have researched, none belonged to any of the Nizam's family or relatives. It would be good news to hear if they are related. Then we can go to Hyderabad and explore the possibilities of a genealogical link.

Please take a look at this huge palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad in the video links below. It is now a hotel and is open to the public after 10 years of renovation. It is now restored to its original grandeur.