Hyderabad History

400 Years Rich History of Hyderabad

Hyderabad History is very rich and interesting, so don't worry, you will not get bored reading it.

History of Hyderabad is inextricably linked with the rise and fall of various kingdoms, Qutb Shahi to Asaf Jahi (Nizams), which flourished in the Deccan region during the medieval and modern times.

It was the famous Qutb Shahi's rule that opened a glorious chapter in the chronicles of Hyderabad.

Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, Founder of Hyderabad
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Founder of Hyderabad
Fifth ruler of Qutb Shahi Dynasty
(Accession 1580 - Death 1612)

The birth of a city

Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, a ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, was the founder of Hyderabad City. In the year 1591, when the Moon was in the constellation of Leo, Jupiter in its own abode and all celestial planets favourably placed, he laid the foundation of a new city which he called Bhagyanagar after his beloved queen 'Bhagmati'. Bhagmati embraced Islam and took the name Hyder Mahal and consequently Bhagynagar was renamed Hyderabad after her.

City of Love

The fourteen year old crown Sultan of Golconda, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was madly in love with beautiful Hindu courtesan 'Bhagmati', a local dancer. Every evening, the Prince of Golconda would ride to the village of Chichlam across Musi river, to meet his beloved, for he couldn't live without watching her dance, and listening to her soulful voice.

Legend has it that once heavy rains and thunderstorm lashed Golconda and the city was devastated. Flood water of the Musi river destroyed many homes and lives.

Young Sultan of Golconda, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was worried for Bhagmati, so he decided to cross the flooded river to meet her. His Royal guards tried to stop him as it was very dangerous for the young sultan, but in vain. Prince rode to the shore of the Musi river. He coerced his horse to step into the river and as soon as it did, a furious current nearly swept it away. It was a miracle that both survived and reached the other end.

Musi River Hyderabad

View of Musi River from Puranapul (Old Bridge)

After crossing the Musi river, Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah rode towards the Chichlam village; he found many homes and lives were destroyed, he was searching for Bhagmati all the way and was praying for her safety.

Prince of Golconda found Bhagmati alive and felt happy after meeting her. After storm subsided, Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah and Bhagmati left for Golconda.

When Sultan Ibrahim, the father of the young Sultan heard this tale of dangerous passion, he was alarmed and forbade Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah from meeting Bhagmati. Young Sultan was miserable without her. Beautiful women from Armenia, Persia, Arab and different parts of India were brought to entertain the prince, but none could attract his attention away from his beloved 'Bhagmati'.

Sultan Ibrahim found that his son loved only Bhagmati and no one else, no matter how beautiful she was. After seeing so much love for Bhagmati, Sultan Ibrahim constructed the Purana Pul (Old Bridge) – a massive stone bridge across the Musi River, to make it easy for the young Sultan to reach Chichlam to meet his beloved.

The romance of the crown Prince with a dancer evoked great curiosity and controversy in Golconda. The fact that the Bhagmati was a Hindu courtesan and much older than the prince, created quite a uproar in the court. The orthodox society was not ready to accept her as queen of Golconda. After ascending the throne, Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah defied all traditions, married Bhagmati, and made her his queen. He re-christened her Hyder Mahal, and named the city Hyderabad in honour of her.

Hyderabad History during Qutb Shahi rule

Qutb Shahi Kings - Rulers of the Deccan
1518 - 1687

The Qutb Shahi Kings were rulers between 1518 and 1687. As the monuments of their time reveal, they were great builders, lovers of architecture and patrons of learning. The greatest and the most popular edifice of the time is the Charminar. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, inherited a rich legacy – a prosperous and large kingdom with the densely populated capital of Golconda.

Eight Qutb Shahi Rulers

I. Sultan Quli Qutbul Mulk
1518 - 1543
Founder and first ruler of Qutb Shahi Dynasty
II. Jamsheed Quli Qutb Shah
1543 - 1550
Second ruler of Qutb Shahi Dynasty
III. Subhan Quli Qutb Shah
Third king of Qutb Shahi Dynasty
IV. Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah
1550 - 1580
Fourth ruler of Qutb Shahi Dynasty
V. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah
1580 - 1612
Fifth ruler of Qutb Shahi Dynasty & Founder of Hyderabad City
VI. Muhammad Qutb Shah
1612 - 1626
Sixth ruler of Qutb Shahi Dynasty
VII. Abdullah Qutb Shahi
1626 - 1672
Seventh ruler of Qutb Shahi Dynasty
VIII. Abul Hasan Tana Shah
1672 - 1687
Eighth & last ruler of Qutb Shahi Dynasty

Hyderabad History during Mughal Attack

Mughal Attack

Fall of Qutub Shahi and the rise of Asaf Jahis

Abul Hasan Tana Shah was the last king of Golconda. It was during his reign that the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb after a siege of 8 months was able to storm into the fortress when the gates were opened by a traitor in 1687. Abul Hasan was taken prisoner first to Bidar and then to Daulatabad (Aurangabad) where he died in prison after 12 years of captivity.

On September 22, 1687, Golconda was conquered by Aurangzeb and became a part of the six Mughal provinces in the Deccan. Mahabat Khan who was initially the Commander of the Golconda army, switched sides and joined the Mughal camp. He was appointed the Governor of Golconda-Hyderabad state, by Aurangzeb.

Golconda Fort, Hyderabad
Golconda Fort, Hyderabad

Though Aurangzeb tried to consolidate his authority over Hyderabad, the city began to lose its importance. The final nail was struck when the capital of the new province was shifted from Hyderabad to Aurangabad, which became the new headquarters of the Mughals in the Deccan.

In 1713, the Mughal Emperor, Farruksiyar, appointed a twenty six year old warrior Qamaruddin as the new Governor of Deccan. Qamruddin was the grandson of Chin Qilij Khan, Aurangzeb's brave commander who lost his life during the siege of Golconda. The young Governor proved to be an able administrator and earned the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk or the Governor of the Kingdom.

In October 1724, Nizam-ul-Mulk declared himself Subedar or Governor of the six Deccan provinces - Aurangabad, Bidar, Bijapur, Berar, Adilabad and Hyderabad.

Between the fall of the Qutub Shahi dynasty and the rise of the Asaf Jahis dynasty, the city of Hyderabad steadily deteriorated. Aurangzeb's only contribution to the city was the completion of the Mecca Masjid in 1693. In 1763, after a gap of nearly seventy six years Hyderabad regained its lost glory when Nizam Ali Khan, the second Asaf Jahi ruler moved the capital back from Aurangabad to Hyderabad.

Hyderabad History during Asaf Jahi rule

Asaf Jahi Dynasty - Nizams
1724 - 1948

The family of the Asaf Jah (Nizams) of Hyderabad is one of the most illustrious that ever came to India.

The Asaf Jahi dynasty, familiar to all the by title of its representative-the-Nizam-owes its origin to Mir Qamaruddin Chin Qilij Khan, better known as Asaf Jah I.

Asafia Flag

Asaf Jahi dynasty ruled the state of Hyderabad for seven generations (A.D. 1724 - 1948) establishing it as the largest and foremost Muslim princely state in India. Hyderabad's existence and development was intrinsically linked to the rule of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and their contributions were foundational to not only the States but the Deccan's social, economic and cultural milieu.

Nizam's crest

Seven Asaf Jah Rulers - Seven Nizams

I. Mir Qamaruddin Chin Qilij Khan - Nizam I
1724 - 1748
Founder and first ruler of Asaf Jahi Dynasty
Read More ...
II. Nizam Ali Khan - Nizam II
1762 - 1803
Second ruler of Asaf Jahi Dynasty
Read More ...
III. Mir Akbar Ali Khan Sikander Jah - Nizam III
1803 - 1829
Third ruler of Asaf Jahi Dynasty
Read More ...
IV. Mir Farkhunda Ali Khan Nasir-ud-Daula - Nizam IV
1829 - 1857
Fourth ruler of Asaf Jahi Dynasty
Read More ...
V. Mir Tahniat Ali Khan Afzal-ud-Daula - Nizam V
1857 - 1869
Fifth ruler of Asaf Jahi Dynasty
Read More ...
VI. Mir Mahboob Ali Khan - Nizam VI
1869 - 1911
Sixth ruler of Asaf Jahi Dynasty
Read More ...
VII. Mir Osman Ali Khan - Nizam VII
1911 - 1948
Seventh and last ruler of Asaf Jahi Dynasty
Read More ...

Hyderabad History during India Independence

End of Asaf Jahi Dynasty

On the 10th of July 1947, the 'Declaration of the Indian Independence' bill was introduced by Harold Macmillan. To the Nizam's dismay, no mention or decision was taken regarding the state of Hyderabad.

All princely states were given the option to either join India, Pakistan or remain independent. All states that would join the Indian Union would have to surrender their sovereignty and their right to collect taxes. All princely states large and small agreed to join the Union of India, except Hyderabad. In June 1947, the Nizam issued a Firman or a proclamation declaring independence from the Indian Union.

Gold-plated chair of Nizam VII at Purani Haveli, Hyderabad

On the 15th of August 1947, India attained independence from the British, but Hyderabad stood defiant as an independent state. On 29th November 1947, the Nizam signed a 'standstill agreement' with the Indian Union for a period of one year.

In the months following the signing of the Standstill Agreement, suspicion and misgivings between the Nizam and the Indian government grew. Relations between the two were far from amicable.

The Razakar Movement, supported by the Majlis Ittehad-ul-Musalmeen, supporting Islamic supremacy in southern India gained ground in Hyderabad. Led by the zealous Kasim Razvi, the Razakars compelled the Nizam to maintain his independence and not relent to pressure from the Indian government. Claiming his right to remain independent in accordance with the Indian Independence Act, the Nizam declared Hyderabad a free, self-governing independent state but the Government of India refused to accept his point of view.

H.E.H Mir-Osman Ali Khan Nizam VII with his court nobles - 1936

Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the deputy Prime Minister of India insisted that the state had to merge with the Indian union and to further tighten the noose, an economic blockade was imposed on Hyderabad. On the 10th of September 1948, the Nizam sent Nawab Moin Nawaz Jung to the Security Council to represent Hyderabad's case before the United Nations. This was the last straw. All channels of communication were severed and the Government of India contemplated military action against the defiant state.

On the 13th of September 1948, the Indian Army initiated its Police Action Against Hyderabad. The exercise was termed Operation Polo and for five days the Razakars and the Hyderabad army made a half hearted attempt to resist the Indian army. But their antiquated ammunition and ill equipped soldiers were no match to an entire armoured division of the mighty Indian army. A number of Razakars lost their lives in the battle and their feeble resistance was soon overcome.

Staircase of Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad

Five days later, on the 18th of September, 1948, the Indian army entered Secunderabad Cantonment. Military rule was imposed.

A reluctant Hyderabad finally merged with the Union of India.

For a smooth transition and to placate the sentiments of the hurt Hyderabadis, the Government of India considered it prudent to appoint Osman Ali Khan as the Rajpramukh of Hyderabad state, a position that he held from 26th January 1950 to 31st October 1956.

Democracy had the whole world in its grip and how long could Hyderabad stay unaffected? The boundary of this region in the Deccan was redrawn on linguistic considerations. The Marathi speaking areas merged with Maharashtra, the Kannada speaking region with Karnataka and on 1st November 1956, the Telugu speaking areas along the region formerly known as Andhra formed the new state of Andhra Pradesh with Hyderabad as its capital.

Takht-e-Nishan (Royal Seat) in Durbar Hall of Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad

Mir Osman Ali Khan withdrew completely from public life and choose to lead a quiet, secluded life with his family. He had wisely formed a number of trusts that took care of his family's need and funded his various charitable institutions.

In 1967 Osman Ali Khan passed away and his eldest grandson, Mukarram Jah, became the new Nizam - a designation that had no meaning, no duties and no responsibilities any more.

In 1972, the Indian Prime Minister, Ms Indira Gahndhi abolished the 'privy purse' and monarchs and royal families lost all their privileges at one go. Prince Mukarram Jah migrated to Australia and while most of his estate is being managed by the trusts formed by his grandfather, some of it has been acquired by the government.

Thus an era became history and a Asaf Jahi dynasty spanning seven generations faded into the twilight leaving behind an indelible print on the sand of time.

Source: Hyderabad Portrait of a City

NOTE: Hyderabad History is very rich and unique. If you find any old picture collections of Hyderabad please contact me, I will add on this page of Hyderabad History.

Like This Page?

Go to Top of Hyderabad History page

Return from Hyderabad History to Hyderabad, India home page