The enigmatic Prince Mukarram Jah, the last of the Nizams

The prince, who was quite unpredictable, would sometimes drop in at the Chowmohalla Palace where he was coronated on 6 April 1967.

By J.S. Ifthekhar  Published on  15 Jan 2023 12:00 PM GMT
The enigmatic Prince Mukarram Jah, the last of the Nizams

Hyderabad: Cameras flash, people go into raptures, and the press speculates. But Prince Mir Barkat Ali Khan remains an enigma forever. As in life and so in death, he remains shrouded in mystery. Mukarram Jah Bahadur, the grandson of the 7th Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, who passed away last night, evokes extreme passion among Hyderabadis. Every time he visited Hyderabad, he was under the glare of unremitting scrutiny.

Notwithstanding the abolition of the princely states, the grandeur of the last titular Nizam survived, at least in the Muslim-dominated Old City of Hyderabad. A lot of water has flown down the Musi, but Mukarram Jah’s visit to the city confirmed his continued appeal and durability. He last visited Hyderabad in 2006 to sort out his property matters. Since then, he had been staying mostly in Australia and Turkey.

Mukarram Jah, who breathed his last in Istanbul, Turkey, was a recluse and didn’t socialise much with the people. He kept his distance even from the other members of the extended Nizam’s family. But whenever he was in Hyderabad, he made it a point to visit the Makkah Masjid near Charminar to offer Friday prayers in congregation. Namaz over, he used to pay his respects at the graves of the 6th Nizam, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, and other Asaf Jahi rulers buried there.


On these occasions, he didn’t mind being mobbed by the people. In fact, he would accept greetings and even shake hands with a ‘lucky few’ before making his way out of the mosque. Old timers and misty-eyed traditionalists couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the prince amidst them. On an earlier visit, he freely mixed with the crowd at the Makkah Masjid and even introduced his London-based son Azmath Jah.

During his brief sojourns in Hyderabad, Mukarram Jah used to stay at the fabulous Chiran Palace in Jubilee Hills. The huge palace, like his other palaces, is full of valuable antiques and known for its rich furnishings and decor. Eye-catching chandeliers, marble statues, precious porcelain, and expensive furniture adorns it.

The prince, who was quite unpredictable, would sometimes drop in at the Chowmohalla Palace where he was coronated on 6 April 1967. The palace would be tastefully decked up for the occasion. Once a few royal family persons—sahebzadas and sahebzadis—joined the dinner hosted there. The food arranged on traditional ‘chowkis’ used to be a gourmet’s delight. It was food of a high standard befitting the Nizam, it is said.

In keeping with the royal rituals, the invitees would also offer ‘nazar’ (offering presented to the kings) to Mukarram Jah, evoking memories of the ‘guzra hua zamana.’ But all that is now a thing of the past.

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