The last Nizam of Hyderabad Mukarram Jah Bahadur who passed away in Turkey on Saturday night will be laid to rest in the family’s vault in the forecourt of Mecca Masjid. “The body is expected to arrive tomorrow in a chartered flight and will be brought to Chowmahalla Palace for people to offer their tributes. The funeral will take place on Wednesday,” informed a family member. Officials of the Nizam Trust supervised the preparation of the vault where other members of the Nizam’s family who ruled Hyderabad from 1724 are buried.
Mukarram Jah, or as he was titled Nawab Mir Barket Ali Khan Walashan Mukarram Jah Bahadur, was linked to two of the most well-known dynasties in the Muslim world. His mother Durrushehvar was the only daughter of Abdul Majid, the last Caliph of Islam who was sent into exile by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who abolished the Caliphate. His father was Azam Jah, the eldest son of Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, whose kingdom was merged with India on September 18, 1948.
Mukarram Jah became Nizam VIII after the inauguration ceremony on April 6, 1967 much after the dominion was merged with India and only a few scattered properties were left in the family with the pulls and pressures coming from the large family, relatives, and retinue of servants. Only weeks earlier, his grandfather Nizam Osman Ali Khan had died in February 1967. At his passing, the then Andhra Pradesh government noted: “His exalted highness created Nizam’s Charitable Trust with a corpus of ₹4,90,00,000 for relief of the poor…”
While this was one of the trusts aimed at charity, the Nizam had created about 54 trusts, including a ‘Grandson’s Pocket Money Trust’ to manage the finances and properties of the wealth accumulated over generations. Another was the Nizam’s Jewellery Trust which had 107 items, including a ripe strawberry-sized Jacob’s diamond among other fabulous baubles. In 1972, the Nizam’s family offered to sell 173 while keeping 24 items. The long-drawn litigation over ownership, right to sell abroad, antiquities laws, and the value ensured that the jewels final value was settled at ₹218 crore. The cheques that were handed over to Ali Pasha and Muhammad Abdul Hadi, the secretary of Nizam Jewellery Trust on January 11, 1996 did not end the litigation. The jewels are now parked in the vaults of Reserve Bank of India and exhibited occasionally.
There were other court cases. In October 2019, a London Court ruled in favour of divvying up the £35 million between the heirs and Indian government. Mukarram Jah had transferred interest in the claim to Hillview Assets Holdings Ltd in the case.
In the aftermath of Police Action, the Indian government recognised three palaces and jewellery as personal property of the Nizam, only the Chowmahalla and Falaknuma are in the control of the family. While the Falaknuma is now a luxury palace resort run by the Taj Group, the Chowmahalla is a ticketed heritage site with some portions, including the library, in the family’s control. The Nazri Bagh palace where the Nizam Osman Ali Khan spent his final days has also been sold to realtors.
Australian journalist John Zubrzycki, who met the notoriously reclusive Mukarram Jah in his Istanbul apartment, and wrote a biography, paints him as a man at ease with the ordinary world and wary of the fake pageantry and pomp that his royal title entailed. He narrates a curious episode of Mukarram Jah fastening a safety pin to the lungi of Burmese Prime Minister U Nu while he was giving a speech in Delhi. For some time, Mukarram Jah worked as an aide-de-camp to Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Born in Nice, France, educated in Doon School, Harrow, he graduated from Cambridge and topped it up with a 15-month training at the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst. Mukarram Jah led a magical life beyond the pale of fading royalty of the 20th century as he flitted between Hyderabad, Istanbul, Australia, Europe. A life in the shadow of past glory of his ancestors among whom he will be laid to rest on Wednesday with full State honours in the 21st century.
CM announces State funeral
A statement issued by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao conveyed sympathy to the bereaved family members of the Mukarram Jah who passed away in Istanbul on Saturday night. The Chief Minister has directed Chief Secretary Santhi Kumari to conduct Mukarram Jah’s last rites with full State honours in commemoration of his service to the poor and needy in education and health sectors as the successor of the Nizams. Government Advisor A.K. Khan has been tasked to finalise the time and place of the funeral as per the decision of Mukarram Jah’s family members after the mortal remains reach Hyderabad.