The Last Nizam: An Indian Prince In The Australian Outback

The Last Nizam: An Indian Prince In The Australian Outback

by John Zubrzycki

"The Last Nizam" is the story of an extraordinary dynasty, the Nizams of Hyderabad, and how the heir to India's richest princely state gave up a kingdom and retired to the dusty paddocks of outback Australia.

A delicate and detailed work, "The Last Nizam" adds a crucial chapter to the history of India, capturing the very scent of wine, women and wealth whose appetites kept the Nizams in news and scandal while simultaneously deepening their legend.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 3.62
  • Pages: 382
  • Publish Date: January 1st 2006 by Pan MacMillan
  • Isbn10: 1405037229
  • Isbn13: 9781405037228

What People Think about "The Last Nizam: An Indian Prince In The Australian Outback"

Zubrycki describes Hyderabad's somewhat violent incorporation into the new nation of India and the subsequent fate of the Asaf Jah dynasty (led by its Nizams) that had ruled it for many centuries. The factors that led to things falling apart in the former princely state are described in the chapters in the book, which are largely dedicated to the life of the 8th Nizam, with whom the author has met and become well-acquainted.

I had formed an opinion that western authors were prejudiced against eastern and oriental rulers, and were unkindly to them in their works. Since the book is about the Last Nizam, in the closing chapters, Zubrzycki drifts into Mukarram Jahs exploits in Australia. While the book provides a fairly detailed picture into the lives of the Nizams, it would have been better if Zubrzycki had not fallen into stereotyping the rulers as his other western counterparts did and do. He attributes the rise of the Nizams empire largely to the British while the downfall is blamed on poor Nizzy.

When it comes to the history of this period it is probably still worth reading to flesh out some of the details.

While Hyderabad was supposedly the richest princely state, those riches were obtained from the blood and sweat of the poor and spent recklessly by a few. The most interesting bits in the book are about the role of the Raj. It appears that apart from being absolute colonial masters, they were also super nannies! The book deserves an extra star for this.

The islamic rule over the region started when a governor of the Khilji Sultanate established the Bahmani Kingdom in the early 16th century at a time of weakening central authority in Delhi. Later a potentate under the Bahmani kingdom founded the Qutb Shahi dynasty with Hyderabad as its capital. But with the death of Aurangzeb, the central authority of Delhi weakened and a Moghul governor called Nizam ul Mulk Asaf Jah established an independent kingdom of Hyderabad. There followed 150 years of Asaf Jahi rule over Hyderabad. This books is about the Asaf Jahi dynasty only. Asaf Jahis surrendered their sovereignty to the British almost as soon as the dynasty emerged. But they were good at accumulating a personal fortune and by the time of the 7th Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam was the richest man in the world. The source of the fabulous wealth of the Nizams is not very well explored in the book. Although he was rich, Osman Ali lacked the sophistication of the Turkish royals. A proposal was mooted for the marriage of Osman Alis two sons Azam Jah and Moazzam Jah with Turkish princesses. It also became clear that Osman Ali would never allow Azam Jah to succeed him. When Mokkaram was born to Darushevar and Azam Jah he was seen as the child who would restore the greatness of the house of Asaf Jah. Unfortunately the child did not display any great promise. That makes Hyderabad action the bloodiest military action in the history of independent India. Osman Alis wealth remained largely intact stashed away as diamonds and jewellery. In the early 70s Osman Ali died and was succeeded by Mukkaram Jah. He was only a titular ruler. Jah now a nonagenarian, lives all by himself in Istanbul, city of his Turkish ancestors. But the decline and fall of the house of Asaf Jah was particularly dramatic. Unlike Qutb Shahis the Asaf Jahis have little to show as their legacy except for their somewhat tasteless palaces. The house Asaf Jah will be remembered in history for having made little use of their fabulous wealth.

Jah, instead decides that the easiest way to hold this "weight of history" on his shoulders is by burning through the generations of wealth his ancestors built and by turning a blind eye to his legacy.