Nizam of Hyderabad
Coat of Arms of the Nizam of Hyderabad
Azmet Jah (pretender)
since 14 January 2023
StyleHis Exalted Highness
First monarchQamar-ud-din Khan
Last monarchOsman Ali Khan
Formation31 July 1724
Abolition17 September 1948
ResidenceChowmahalla Palace
Pretender(s)Azmet Jah
Asafia flag of Hyderabad Deccan. The script along the top reads Al Azmatulillah meaning "All greatness is for God". The bottom script reads Ya Uthman which translates to "Oh Osman". The writing in the middle reads "Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah".
Mir Osman Ali Khan

Nizam of Hyderabad was the title of the ruler of Hyderabad State (now part of the Indian state of Telangana, the Marathwada region of Maharashtra and the Kalyana-Karnataka region of Karnataka). Nizam is a shortened form of Niẓām ul-Mulk (Persian: نظام‌ الملک), which means Administrator of the Realm, and was the title bestowed upon Asaf Jah I when he was appointed Viceroy of the Deccan by the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar. In addition to being the Mughal Viceroy (Naib) of the Deccan, Asaf Jah I was also the premier courtier of the Mughal Empire until 1724, when he established the independent monarchy of Hyderabad and adopted the title "Nizam of Hyderabad".

The Asaf Jahi dynasty was founded by Mir Qamar-ud-Din Siddiqi (Asaf Jah I), who served as a Naib of the Deccan sultanates under the Mughal Empire from 1713 to 1721. He intermittently ruled the region after Emperor Aurangzeb's death in 1707. In 1724 Mughal control weakened, and Asaf Jah became virtually independent, but the state would eventually become a tributary of the Maratha Confederacy after a series of military losses in the late 18th century.[1][2][3] Later the Nizam defeated the Marathas with the alliance of the British in the Maratha-Nizam War, succeeding as the Peshwas by the British.

When the English East India Company achieved paramountcy over the Indian subcontinent, 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.[4]

The Asaf Jahi dynasty had only seven recognized rulers, but there was a period of 13 unstable years after the rule of the first Nizam when two of his sons, Nasir Jung,and Salabath Jung, and grandson Muzafur Jung ruled. They were never officially recognised[by whom?] as rulers. The seventh and last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, fell from power when India annexed Hyderabad State in 1948 in Operation Polo.[5] Today, the title is held by his great grandson and pretender, Azmet Jah.[6]



The title Nizam comes from the Persian نظام /nɪˈzɑːm/, which itself is derived from Arabic niẓām which means "order" or "arrangement", and was typically given to high ranking state officials.[7]


According to Sir Roper Lethbridge in The Golden Book of India (1893), the Nizams are lineally descended from the First Caliph Abu Bakr, the successor of the Islamic prophet Muhammed.[8] The family of Nizams in India is descended from Abid Khan, a Persian from Samarkand, whose lineage is traced to Sufi Shihab-ud-Din Suhrawardi (1154–91) of Suhraward in Iran. In the early 1650s, on his way to hajj, Abid Khan stopped in Deccan, where the young prince Aurangzeb, then Governor of Deccan, cultivated him. Abid Khan returned to the service of Aurangzeb to fight in the succession wars of 1657–58. After Aurangzeb's enthronement, Abid Khan was richly rewarded and became Aurangzeb's favourite nobleman. His son Ghazi Uddin Khan was married to Safiya Khanum, the daughter of the former imperial Grand Vizier (prime minister) Sa'dullah Khan. Mir Qamaruddin Khan, the founder of the line of Nizams, was born of the couple, thus descending from two prominent families of the Mughal court.[9]

Ghazi Uddin Khan rose to become a General of the Emperor Aurangzeb and played a vital role in conquering Bijapur and Golconda Sultanates of Southern India in 1686.[10] He also played a key role in thwarting the rebellion by Prince Akbar and alleged rebellion by Prince Mu`azzam.[11]

Map of India in 1760. Part of the southern area in green was ruled by the Nizam.

After Aurangzeb's death and during the war of succession, Qamaruddin and his father remained neutral thus escaping the risk of being on the losing side; they remained marginal players in the Mughal court during the reigns of Bahadur Shah I (1707–12) and Jahandar Shah (1712–13). Their successor Farrukhsiyar (1713–19) appointed Qamaruddin the governor of Deccan in 1713, awarding him the title Nizam-ul-Mulk. However, the governorship was taken away two years later and Qamaruddin withdrew to his estate in Moradabad. Under the next emperor, Muhammad Shah (1719–48), Qamaruddin accepted the governorship of Deccan for the second time in 1721. The next year, following the death of his uncle Muhammad Amin Khan, a power-broker in the Mughal Court, Qamaruddin returned to Delhi and was made the wazir (prime minister). According to historian Faruqui, his tenure as prime minister was undermined by his opponents and a rebellion in Deccan was engineered against him. In 1724, the Nizam returned to Deccan to reclaim his base, in the process making a transition to a semi-independent ruler.[12]


Further information: Hyderabad State

In 1724, Asaf Jah I defeated Mubariz Khan to establish autonomy over the Deccan Suba, named the region Hyderabad Deccan, and started what came to be known as the Asaf Jahi dynasty. Subsequent rulers retained the title Nizam ul-Mulk and were referred to as Asaf Jahi Nizams, or Nizams of Hyderabad.[13][14] Nizam I never formally declared independence from the Mughals; he still flew the Mughal flag, and was never crowned. In Friday prayers, the sermon would be conducted in the name of Aurangzeb, and this tradition continued until the end of Hyderabad State in 1948. The death of Asaf Jah I in 1748 resulted in a period of political unrest as his sons, backed by opportunistic neighbouring states and colonial foreign forces, contended for the throne. The accession of Asif Jah II, who reigned from 1762 to 1803, ended the instability. In 1768, he signed the treaty of Machilipatnam, surrendering the coastal region to the East India Company in return for a fixed annual rent.[15]

Hyderabad State in 1909
Chowmahalla Palace, official residence of the Nizams (1720-1948)

Following the decline of the Mughal power, the region of Deccan saw the rise of the Maratha Empire. The titular Nizams themselves fought during the Mughal-Maratha Wars since the 1720s, which resulted in the Nizam paying a regular tax (Chauth) to the Marathas. The major battles fought between the Marathas and the Nizam include Palkhed, Bhopal, Rakshasbhuvan, and Kharda, in all of which the Nizam lost.[16][17] Following the conquest of Deccan by Bajirao I and the imposition of Chauth by him, the Nizam essentially remained a tributary of the Marathas.[18]

The sixth Nizam riding an elephant in a procession from Moula Ali, c. 1890s.

In 1805, after the East India Company's victory in the Second Anglo-Maratha War, the Nizam of Hyderabad came under their protection.[citation needed]. In 1858, the state of Hyderabad became part of the British Indian Empire as a princely state with full autonomy albeit under colonial rule and was subject to the British Crown.

From 1876 to 1948, the Nizam recognised the Crown as paramount ruler of India as the monarch of the United Kingdom simultaneously held the title of emperor of India (first held by Queen Victoria as empress and the last being George VI as emperor)

In 1903, the Berar region of the state was separated and merged into the Central Provinces of British India, to form the Central Provinces and Berar.

During the Second World War, 80,000 men who were raised by the Nizam to form a personal army under the Indian State Forces, known as the 19th Hyderabad Regiment served in Malaya, North Africa, Persia, Singapore and Burma

The last Nizam of Hyderabad state, Mir Osman Ali Khan crowned in 1911, had been the richest man in the world in his time.[19] The Nizams developed the railway, introduced electricity, and developed roads, airways, irrigation and reservoirs; in fact, all major public buildings in Hyderabad City were built during his reign during the period of British rule in India. He pushed education, science, and the establishment of Osmania University forward.

In 1947, at the time of the partition of India, the British government offered the 565 princely states in the sub-continent the options of acceding to either India or Pakistan or remaining independent.

End of the dynasty

Main article: Annexation of Hyderabad

General Syed Ahmed El Edroos (at right) offers his surrender of the Hyderabad State Forces to Major General (later General and Army Chief) Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri at Secunderabad.

After the Independence of India in 1947, the Nizam of Hyderabad chose to join neither the Dominion of India nor the Dominion of Pakistan. He later declared Hyderabad an independent state as the third Dominion, attempting to become an independent monarchy in the British Commonwealth, sharing King George VI as head of state(since then members are required to share the king as head of state). Not only the Government of India, but George VI who was head of the organization, the last emperor of India before independence and most crucially, the incumbent monarch of India rejected the notion. After attempts by India to persuade the Nizam to accede to India failed, and due to large-scale atrocities committed by Razakars (who wanted the Nizam to accede Hyderabad to Pakistan) on the Hindu populace,[20] the Indian government finally launched a military operation named Operation Polo. The Indian Army invaded Hyderabad on 13 September 1948 and defeated his untrained forces. The Nizam capitulated on 17 September 1948; that same afternoon he broadcast the news over the State radio network. The Nizam was forced to accept accession to the new Union of India. His abdication on 17 September 1948 ended the dynasty's ambitions. Nevertheless, he became the Rajpramukh postindependence based on public vote.[21] He died on Friday, 24 February, 1967.

All Nizams are buried in royal graves at the Makkah Masjid near Charminar in Hyderabad excepting the last, who wished to be buried beside his mother, in the graveyard of Judi Mosque facing King Kothi Palace.[22][23]

State wealth

The Nizam of Hyderabad's throne in Chowmahalla Palace

During the period of the Nizams' rule, Hyderabad became wealthy - thanks to the Golconda mines which were the only sources of diamonds in the world market at that time (apart from South African mines) making the 7th Nizam the richest person in the world. Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII and his family including Salar Jung I were taught by Nawab Sarwar Ul Mulk and Agha Mirza Baig Bahadur, who was his political advisor,[24] and the senior-most salute state among the Indian princely states. It was spread over 223,000 km2 (86,000 sq mi) in the Deccan, ruled by the Asaf Jahi dynasty. The Nizams were conferred with the title of His Exalted Highness, and "Faithful Ally of the British Government" for their roles in the Second and Third Anglo-Mysore Wars and the Indian Rebellion of 1857,[25] becoming the only Indian prince to be given both these titles.[26]

One example of the wealth of the Nizams is the Jewels of the Nizams, an international tourist attraction once displayed in Salar Jung Museum, but now locked in an Reserve Bank of India vault in Delhi.[27] In 1948 Hyderabad state had an estimated population of 17 million (1.7 crore), and it generated an estimated annual revenue of £90,029,000.[25]

The state had its currency known as the Hyderabadi rupee, until 1951.[28] The pace at which the last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan amassed wealth made him one of the world's richest men in 1937, also known for his miserliness.[26] He was estimated to be worth 660 crores (roughly US$2 billion by the then exchange rates).[29] According to the Forbes All-Time Wealthiest List of 2008, Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan is the fifth richest man in recorded history per the figures, with an estimated worth of US$210.8 billion adjusted by Forbes as per the growth of the US GDP since that period and the present exchange rate of the US dollar against the Indian rupee.[28]


The Nizams set up numerous institutions in the name of the dynasty including hospitals, schools, colleges, and universities that imparted education in Urdu.[28] Inspired by the Indian Civil Service, the Nizams established their own local Hyderabad Civil Service.[citation needed]


The Nizams commissioned engineering projects such as large reservoirs like Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar. Survey work on the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam was also initiated during this time, although the actual work was completed under the aegis of the Government of India in 1969.[30][31]

They also gave Hyderabad its railway network - the Nizam's Guaranteed State Railway[32] which helped in setting up various industries.

Other landmarks include the Telangana High Court, City College, Public Gardens (formerly Bagh-e-Aaam), Jubilee Hall, Asafia Library, The Assembly building, Niloufer Hospital, the Osmania Arts College and the Osmania Medical College.[33]

Donation for compilation of Mahabharata

In 1932, there was a need for money for the publication of Mahabharata in the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute located in Pune. A formal request was made to the 7th Nizam, who granted Rs. 1000 per year for 11 years.[34]

He also gave Rs 50,000 for construction of the guest house which stands today as "Nizam's guest house".[35][36]

Donation to Hindu Temples

The Nizams donated Rs. 82,825 to the Yadagirigutta temple near Bhongir and Rs. 29,999 to Sita Ramachandraswamy temple, Bhadrachalam.[37]

The 7th Nizam also donated Rs. 8,000 to Tirupati Balaji Temple as yearly grants.[38]

A donation of Rs. 50,000 towards the reconstruction of Sitarambagh temple located in the old city of Hyderabad was also made.[39]


The Asaf Jahis were prolific builders. Their palaces are listed below:

List of Nizams of Hyderabad (1724–1948)

Image Titular Name Personal Name Date of birth Nizam From Nizam Until Date of death
Nizam-ul-Mulk, Asaf Jah I
نظام‌الملک آصف جاہ
Mir Qamar-ud-din Khan 20 August 1671 31 July 1724 1 June 1748
Nasir Jung
Mir Ahmed Ali Khan 26 February 1712 1 June 1748 16 December 1750
Muzaffar Jung
Mir Hidayat Muhi-ud-din Sa'adullah Khan ? 16 December 1750 13 February 1751
Salabat Jung
صلابت جنگ
Mir Sa'id Muhammad Khan 24 November 1718 13 February 1751 8 July 1762
16 September 1763
Nizam-ul-Mulk, Asaf Jah II
نظام‌الملک آصف جاہ دوم
Mir Nizam Ali Khan 7 March 1734 8 July 1762 6 August 1803
Sikander Jah, Asaf Jah III
سکندر جاہ ،آصف جاہ سوم
Mir Akbar Ali Khan 11 November 1768 6 August 1803 21 May 1829
Nasir-ud-Daula, Asaf Jah IV
ناصر الدولہ ،آصف جاہ چہارم
Mir Farqunda Ali Khan 25 April 1794 21 May 1829 16 May 1857
Afzal-ud-Daula, Asaf Jah V
افضال الدولہ ،آصف جاہ پنجم
Mir Tahniyath Ali Khan 11 October 1827 16 May 1857 26 February 1869
Asaf Jah VI
آصف جاہ ششم
Mir Mahbub Ali Khan 17 August 1866 26 February 1869 29 August 1911
Asaf Jah VII
آصف جاہ ہفتم
Mir Osman Ali Khan 6 April 1886 29 August 1911 17 September 1948
24 February 1967

Descendants of the last Nizam

The last Nizam had 34 children, including 16 sons and 18 daughters[40][41][42][43][44][45]

The Asaf Jahi dynasty followed the order of precedence of male primogeniture regardless of the mother's marital status or rank. [46]

His eldest son was Azam Jah (21 February 1907 – 9 October 1970),was the Prince of Berar.[47]

Whereas, his second son Moazzam Jah, married Princess Niloufer, a princess of the Ottoman empire.[48]

Family tree

The Nizams' daughters had been married traditionally to young men of the Paigah family. This family belonged to the Sunni sect of Islam.

italics – Considered pretenders by most historians; refrained from exercising traditional authority during their reigns.[citation needed]

Places, things named after and established by the Nizams

Places and things named after the Nizam include Nizamabad, a city and district in the state of Telangana; Jamia Nizamia, a university; the Nizam College; the Nizam's Museum; the Nizam's Guaranteed State Railway; the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences; the Jewels of the Nizams; the Nizam Diamond; the Nizam Sagar, HMAS Nizam, Nizamia observatory; the Nizam Club; the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace; the Nizam's Contingent; the Nizam Gate; the Nizam Palace; Government Nizamia General Hospital; and H.E.H. the Nizam's Charitable Trust.

See also


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Secondary sources