HYDERABAD: When Princess Durru Shevar, arguably one of the most beautiful women of Nizamian Hyderabad who passed away the other day, got married to Prince Azam Jah, the eldest son of the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, it was widely hailed as a "union of two great dynasties" linking Europe and Asia.
With Durru Shevar being the only daughter of the last Caliph and former Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Majid Khan, the coming together of true blue Ottoman and the Asafia lineages became a talking point in high circles in the two continents. Perhaps, because two princes married two cousins, the second wedding being that of Prince Moazzam Jah, the second son of the Nizam with Niloufer, another beautiful woman and a cousin of Durru Shevar.
Writers of those days chronicle it as an "event of unparalleled interest and importance not only for Hyderabad but for the world at large." From the day of their betrothal to the day of the wedding, "imagination of people all over the world stirred beyond measure."
Durru Shevar is described by them as the "priceless pearl," having her own list of accomplishments that included mastering European languages, besides Urdu. She had the honour of being the first royal lady from the Nizam's family to attend a public function when she presented a silver cup to the winning team of Public Garden Tennis Tournament in 1933.
The weddings on November 12, 1931, at Nice in France were simple with none of the royal trappings or oriental grandeur. From the Nizam's side, delegates to the Round Table Conference, including Nawab Sir Hyder Nawaz Jung Bahadur, Sir Richard Chenevix Trench and Nawab Mehdi Yar Jung Bahadur, witnessed the religious ceremony, said to have been performed by the Caliph himself.
Holiday in Hyderabad
How was it in Hyderabad State? The news at first seemed too romantic to be true, for when the young princes, Azam Jah and Moazzam Jah, left Hyderabad for a holiday, no one imagined that they would return married. Coinciding with the royal wedding in Nice, a holiday was declared in Hyderabad. And when the two royal couples returned to Hyderabad after a long journey, there was a tumultuous welcome. The city was decked up. It is said that all communities joined to contribute to the building of a "shadikhana" as a permanent memorial. People from neighbouring villages poured into the city to catch a glimpse of the newly married couples.
The royal reception was in the stately Chowmohalla palace and the then British Resident, Lt. Col. T. H. Keyes, proposed a toast.