His Highness Nizam Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddiqi Asaf Jah VII, more commonly known as Mir Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII was the last Nizam of the princely state of Hyderabad. While there are a lot of stories about his palaces and his riches and his grandeur, he was also a man of tremendous power, eccentricity and class; all rolled into one. Here’s taking a look at some interesting facts about the Last Nizam of Hyderabad
1. Richest man in the world:
Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII was the world’s richest man in the 1930s and the 1940s, with a wealth of over $2 Billion. That was 2 percent of the entire American economy at that time!
2. Extremely large family:
He had 7 wives, countless concubines and mistresses, 34 legitimate children and countless illegitimate children.
3. Vast Empire:
The last Nizam was the ruler of India’s largest princely state – the size of Scotland and England combined.
4. Interest in Archaeology:
The last Nizam took keen interest in the restoration of the then newly-discovered Ajanta and Ellora Caves at Aurangabad. He also initiated the Archaeology department of Hyderabad.
5. The eccentric Nizam:
He knitted his own socks, wore the same patched clothes for months and borrowed cigarettes from his guests.
6. The diamond paperweight:
He had a £ 50million ostrich-egg sized diamond, which he used as a paperweight
7. The eccentricity continues:
One story goes that at one instance, he wanted a new blanket. So he ordered a servant to buy him a new one – with strict orders not to spend more than 25 rupees (32p at today’s rates).
8. The paranoia:
The Nizam, terrified of a revolution or takeover of his state, made plans to transport his wealth out of the country. But later he grew bored with the idea.
9. The brains behind the City of Hyderabad:
It was under his rule that Hyderabad started taking steps towards becoming one of the biggest cities in India.
10. His weirdness was well known:
A British politician’s wife who visited him at his peak and described him as someone who was “mad as a coot”
11. The revered recognition he got:
When TIME magazine featured him and the erstwhile rulers of other former princely states like Kashmir, Jodhpur Bikaner, Indore, and Bhopal; he was the only one who was addressed as ‘His Exalted Highness’; while all the others were addressed as ‘His Excellency’.
12. The conservative spender:
Despite his riches, he liked being frugal. He disciplined himself to live on the equivalent of £1 a day and smoked the cheapest brand of cigarettes, relighting and smoking the discarded butts. He once took a cigarette from an adviser, cut it in half and offered the man half back.
13. His love:
It is said that he loved his concubines so much that he didn’t want them to be seen by anyone else; and hence, they were under strict ‘purdah’; with all the best luxuries possible.
14. His Hospitality:
When the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII and, after his abdication, the Duke of Windsor visited him in 1922 he wanted to make sure he felt at home. So he arranged for his chamber pot lid to play the National Anthem when it opened.
15. The Queen’s Necklace:
An exquisite diamond necklace was gifted by him to Queen Elizabeth II; as a wedding present and the necklace is called the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace. It is one of the jewels in the Queen’s exquisite collection.
16. Pakistan connection:
After the partition of India in 1947, the Nizam considered making Hyderabad join Pakistan.
17. Military Action against the Nizam:
The Nizam’s refusal to join the Indian in 1947 triggered the military action against him on September 18, 1948.
18. End of rule:
Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII continued to rule Hyderabad until the state was merged with the Union of India in 1948.
19. Hyderabad’s Rajpramukh:
The Nizam signed the Instrument of Accession and the State was integrated into the Indian Union. Though deposed, he was allowed to stay on in Hyderabad wherein he accepted the position of Rajpramukh when the state government was established in 1950. He occupied this office till the formation of Andhra Pradesh in November 1956.
20. Involvement in World War II:
The Nizam lent his support to the British during the second World War and remained faithful to the King of England.
21. Fleet of Rolls Royce Cars:
He had a fleet of 50 Rolls Royce cars, which included a Barker-Coach built Rolls Royce Silver Ghost acquired in 1912.
22. Pearl collection in the city of pearls:
His collection of pearls alone could fill up an Olympic size swimming pool.
23. The world’s fifth largest diamond:
He is reported to have found the Jacob Diamond -which is the world’s fifth largest diamond- in the toe of one of his late father’s shoes.
24. Jewellery worth £200 million:
The Nizam’s 173-piece jewellery collection had an estimated worth of £200 million but it was bought by the Indian government in 1995 for a low price of £33m.
His official Title was – Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamaluk, Asaf Jah VII, Muzaffarul- Mulk-Wal-Mumilak, Nizam-ul- Mulk, Nizam ud Daula Nawab Mir Sir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, Sipah Saula, Fateh Jung, Nizam of Hyderabad and of Berar, Knight Grand Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Honorable General in the Army, Faithful Ally of the British Government. We wonder how it will fit on his Adhaar Card, if he were alive today…