Welcome to Mahboob Radio Service, which was started in 1948, the year in which Hyderabad was annexed to India through the military Operation Polo (because Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam, was deliberating between joining India or staying independent). I used to always pass by this place, located at Chatta Bazar, (I used to think it was junk lol). The old radios seen in the first picture were apparently sent all the way from Bangalore for repair (the shop owner laughed and told me that at the cost to send them itself was more than the service cost)
Moinuddin, the current owner, told me that the service centre was earlier called Pakistan Radio Service. His father Shaik Mahboob (old man in third picture) was running it nearly 100 years ago at Dabeerpura (the shop was shifted to the current location later, not sure when the name changed). As I got talking with him, Moinuddin, who did not want me to click his picture, told me that the location of the shop was changed due to the violence inflicted by the Razakaars, the Muslim militia started by Qasim Rizvi (who also took over the MIM) during the final years before Hyderabad was merged with India.
Hoping to interview his 80-year-old brother in the coming days. I love how random stops turn into such valuable and important meetings. I believe this place is one of the few radio service centres in the city today.
The Golconda fort was one of the toughest in the entire country to breach, which was perhaps validated by the fact that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir took 8 long months to finally take over and destroy Hyderabad in 1687. That too with the help of a man named Abdullah Khan Panni who opened the Fateh (victory) Darwaza from the inside, allowing Mughal troops to enter the fort.
2018 is an important year for Hyderabad and Mughal histories. It marks 500 years since the Deccan sultanates became independent (including Golconda which was established by Sultan Quli Qutb Shah in 1518) and also 400 years since Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was born.
The 8 Darwazas (doors) of the fort even today give a good example as to how vital those were in keeping the walled-city (before the Qutb Shahi kings expanded to Hyderabad) safe. If one inspects the gates, it can be understood their tactical importance, as all bastions were very cleverly placed to see approaching attacks from afar.
Coming to Aurangzeb, I am no fan of his, for he destroyed Hyderabad and most of its buildings, apart from overseeing the slaughter that took place. The worst thing, however, was the fact that Aurangzeb renamed the city to 'Dar-ul-Jihad' Hyderabad. Argue with me all you want, that maybe he had a human side, but fact is that the emperor was puritanical in his outlook as a Muslim.
I feel he was always conflicted between being a good Muslim and a good king to his subjects, which is what his actions show. We can't judge him by today's standards, but perhaps by juxtaposing his actions with those of his predecessors. One can easily see that he did not personally have a liberal attitude, but that he was ready to make concessions to be a good king. And of course there is no question that he was a great warrior, who completed his wish of conquering the Deccan. (Pictures clicked at Fateh darwaza)
During the turmoil between 1947-48 in the erstwhile state of Hyderabad, Sugunamma Paul, then nearly 20 years old, fled for her life with her mother and sister inside the Ajanta Ellora caves near Aurangabad. Her father who worked as a cook for the Hyderabad state government, took them to safety.
Her family fled after it was announced that members of the Razakaars, the Muslim militia headed by Qasim Razvi, were approaching and everyone in her village of Fardapur (MH) were asked to leave. They spent nearly a week in the caves.
But of course, one couldn't live in parts of Maharastra and Karnataka (Deccan) and not be affected by Operation Polo and its violence. Sugunamma's father, who was dressed in the traditional Hyderabadi attire of Sherwani and Rumi topi, was killed (by goons or the Indian army) after being mistaken for a Muslim.
This is the second such story I've come across during my ongoing project, after that of Mr. Syed Amir Shah, who fled with his family from Bidar to Hyderabad. Today, Sugunamma lives in a quiet corner of Secunderabad, her memories almost forgotten. The lady started crying as she recalled what transpired then.
17 September, 2018, marked 70 years since the erstwhile state of Hyderabad was annexed to India through the military action known as Operation Polo (or police action in local parlance). It's a tragedy which has been largely forgotten and kept out of our history textbooks.
The entire episode, which was essentially a three-day military takeover, took place because the 7th Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan was unwilling to join the Indian Union and wanted to stay independent. It resulted in the loss of thousands of lives, especially of Muslims, at the hands of goons reportedly in connivance with the Indian army.
In Golconda’s final siege by Aurangzeb in 1687, the story of how the last Dakhni kingdom finally fell at the hands of the Mughals is nothing short of drama. After eight long months of fighting, a traitor, supposedly by the name of Abdullah Khan Panni, opened one of the eight darwazas, letting the Mughal armies finally enter the inner fort. Panni was apparently promised something in return for the task he committed.
The door that he treacherously opened is known as the Fateh (victory) darwaza , which is one of the eight gateways of the Golconda fort (today only 5 of them are accessible, while 3 are under army control I think). Golconda’s fall was something that Aurangzeb was looking to do from the time when he was the governor of the Deccan.
The first attack in 1656 itself had destroyed Hyderabad to a certain extent and the final siege more or less resulted in slaughter and complete destruction of the city, barring some major structures that were left intact. Next Saturday, November 3, marks 400 years since Aurangzeb (who was very puritanical in his outlook and is basically responsible for the city’s destruction) was born.
So I will be conducting a walk at the fateh Darwaza next weekend on the Aurangzeb’s relation with Deccan and Golconda’s final siege on the occasion. Those who are interested, please keep an eye out about details in my stories. Pictures (first is of a cannon fyi) clicked at the Darwaza.
In a quiet corner on the outskirts of Hyderabad, 85-year-old Abdul Razzaq goes to a mosque every day, where he prays, sleeps and spends most of his time in Allah’s devotion. Nobody would have thought that his gentleman would be someone who would has seen two different shades of Hyderabad, i.e. before and after Operation Polo, or ‘police action’ (as it is known in local parlance), which was the military action by the Indian army that annexed the erstwhile state of Hyderabad to India on 17 September, 1948.
Mr. Razzaq was in fact was pushed to join the Hyderabad State Army just a year before Operation Polo in 1947 (at a young age). Though he was posted with his battalion at Gulbarga, Mr. Razzaq barely saw any fighting. “We were simply put inside the fort and we stayed there for days, not knowing what to do. The army was ordered to not fire or fight with the Indian army,” he told me when I interviewed him last week with my friend Moses.
Recalling the days after the military takeover of Hyderabad in 1948, Mr. Razzaq said that anyone who peeped/stared at any commotion outside in the city were also shot at by the Indian army (Hyderabad state had an interim military governor JN Chaudhari for 18 months). The elderly gentleman lost his job, like several others, and remained unemployed for some years after the Hyderabad State Army was disbanded. He went to live in Medak ,where his family owned some ancestral property for some time. Like many others, he also rues that breaking of communal harmony in Hyderabad post Operation Polo, something which broke for good I believe.
The period of 1947-48 was a turbulent one in the history of Hyderabad, as Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last and 7th Nizam (monarch), was deliberating between choosing to stay independent or to join India (for more info refer to earlier posts).
Note, what you see in picture is not a hall or room. It's a wardrobe. Not kidding.
Among all of the seven Asaf Jahi rulers, the sixth, Mir Mahbub Ali Pasha (1866-1911), was the most flamboyant to say the least. He was known for his pleasure-loving and lavish lifestyle, which is best captured through his jaw-dropping 176-feet wardrobe in the Purani Haveli palace where the monarch lived before moved to the European-styled Falaknuma palace.
For those of you who have not visited the Nizams museum at Purani Haveli, please do so. Apart from the wardrobe, the museum has a lot of interesting artifacts and memorabilia belonging to Osman Ali Khan, Mahub Ali Pasha's son and the seventh and last Nizam of Hyderabad.
The museum and the wardrobe are in the same wing of the palace. For those of you who don't know, Mahbub Ali Pasha was quite unlike his son, who liked to not waste money and instead save it (although he had no aversion in donating money for causes and to build/develop his state). He would not repeat his clothes apparently (but I think there's every chance that his servants would have given him old clothes at times, because, who can remember that many clothes?!). Among other things, the sixth Nizam was also famous for disguising himself as a poor man and roaming the streets of the old city to keep in touch with peoples needs.
There are many such tales of the man, of how he helped many poor people who came to him for financial help. Then there is the story of his legendary (Armenian) Jewish valet, Albert Abid (after whom Abids is named). Pictures clicked during yesterday's walk at Purani Haveli, on operation polo.
Syed Ali Hussain (84) was just 14 years old when Operation Polo took place in the September of 1948, but the magnitude of the incident was not lost on him as a child. Mr. Ali clearly remembers about the kind of news that was pouring in.
Luckily he was in Hyderabad where there was no violence and his family remained safe during the tense period between 1947-48 when Osman Ali Khan, the 7th and last Nizam of (the princely state) Hyderabad was deliberating between joining the Indian union or staying independent.
It was that deliberation that allowed Qasim Razvi, a megalomaniac, to take over the Islamic organization Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslieem from Bahadur yar Jung (after his death in 1944), which he used to wreak havoc in the erstwhile state of Hyderabad.
Razvi headed the militia called Razakaars, and vowed to keep Hyderabad independent. Finally, the Indian government sent the army on 13thSeptember, resulting in Operation Polo, which annexed the state in just three days on 17th.
Mr. Ali said that Razvi wanted to dethrone the Nizam and take over. “I know this because my father-in-law Mohd. Abdul Aziz was the MIM’s district president of Warangal. Razvi once met him, told him of the plan and also sought his help. But he rejected it, stating that he liked Osman Ali Khan,” recalled Mr. Aziz during our meeting.
He also didn’t agree with the generally believed notion that the Nizam was very lenient towards Razvi. But he conceded that the Khan chose to keep quiet when there were skirmishes between the Razakaars and the communists (the latter along with peasants, fed up of feudal landlords, had decided to fight against the state. This was known as the Telangana armed uprising). Mr. Ali incidentally also participated in the 1969 Telangna statehood agitation, something that he fondly remembers. Hence continues my Operation Polo saga.
Exactly 110 years ago on 28th September, thousands of people drowned to death as the Musi river flooded Hyderabad, thanks to heavy rains which lashed the city. It was one of the most destructive floods that took place, and has etched itself a major event that changed the capital's contours.
According to the legendary engineer Visweswarayya, who was appointed as a special consulting engineer by the erstwhile state of Hyderabad post the 1908 floods, rainfall recorded at Shamshad, one of the principal rain-gauge stations then, was an astounding 12.8 inches in 24 hours and 18.90 inches in 48 hours.
However, an age old tree (first pic), which is inside the Osmania general hospital today, saved 150 lives of people who climbed atop it for safety. Today a board hangs on it remembering the event. It is believed that water rose 20 feet higher than ground level in just 24 hours, and managed to destroy a lot of buildings and homes.
There are many accounts of the sixth Nizam Mahboob Ali Pasha going across parts of the city which were accessible to help people. Apparently doesn't Prime Minister Maharaja Kishen Parshad also ordered all public servants to be given a month salary in advance deductable in installments from future salary payments and those on low salaries to be exempt from repayment.
Today, there are a handful of markings are different places of levels till which the water had touched in 1908 (see pictures) near the Musi river in the old city. One of them is about 20 feet high.
This is Mr. Ahmed Abdul Aziz (92), a former member of the Hyderabad State army, which disbanded a year after the erstwhile state of Hyderabad was annexed to India on 17th September, 1948.
Mr. Aziz had joined the state army in 1947 as a trainee and was stationed at the command centre later at Saifabad. While he did not witness much of the turbulence during Operation Polo (the military action by the Indian Army through which the state of Hyderabad was annexed to India), Mr. Aziz later went on to work with Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh and last Nizam of Hyderabad.
The old gentleman is one of the last generations of people who witnessed Operation Polo and also who interacted with Osman Ali Khan post the annexation of Hyderabad to India. He's also the cousin of Hasnuddin Ahmed, who worked with Khan's administration as a civil servant and later as an IAS officer with the Indian govt.
For those of you who don't know, Osman Ali Khan continued to live in the King Kothi palace post 1948 and hired many of the people who used to work for him, both out of necessity and to apparently ensure that they wouldn't be out of jobs. Mr. Ahmed was part of the palace security forces. Incidentally he's also the nephew of Din Yar Jung, roene director general of police (Hyderabad state).u
Oh and he lives in Aziz Bagh, the beautiful place that you see in the second picture. Constructed in the 1890s, the Dewdi transports you to a bygone era. It's one of the few well maintained old homes in the city today.
17 September, 2018, is finally here. Today marks exactly 70 years since the erstwhile state of Hyderabad was annexed to India through the military action known as Operation Polo (or police action in local parlance). It was a tragedy which has been largely forgotten because it has been kept out of our textbooks.
The entire episode, which was essentially a three-day military operation (or takeover or war), took place because the 7th Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan was unwilling to join the Indian Union and wanted to stay independent. It resulted in the loss of thousands of lives, especially Muslims, at the hands of goons, reportedly in connivance with the Indian army.
On the occasion, I've written a small piece for our blog based on eyewitness accounts. Link in bio.
But that is just one part of the story. 1947-48 also saw violence and atrocities against the local Hindu populace by the Razakaars, a Muslim militia headed by Qasim Razvi, who wanted to keep Hyderabad independent.
Razvi, who took over the Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen in 1944. At the same time, during 1946-51, the peasants in Telangana with help from Communists began revolting against the landlords and were also fighting against the Razakaars, in what is known as the Telangana Armed Struggle.
All these things together resulted in one of the most tumultuous periods of India's history. Today, 70 years later, those surviving from the last generation which witnessed it are the only one who can tell us what exactly happened back then in September.
While I've found some of them (you may refer to previous posts on Mr. Syed Amir Shah, Mr. Moinuddin and Mr. Narsing Rao), the coming year will be dedicated to finding as many eyewitnesses as possible and interviewing them so that we can get a better understanding of what exactly happened back then. Fingers crossed.
So last week I decided to accompany @amandazillo on an impromptu one-day bike trip to Bidar (on my KTM Duke 390) to see the Bahmani tombs. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was simply stunned by the beautiful architecture, especially the Persian (tiles) inscriptions on the Bahmani and the Baridi tombs.
The Bahmani tombs in Bidar belong to Shihabuddin Ahmed I onwards (till the 18th) who shifted the capital from Gulbarga. For those of you who are interested in Dakhni history, Bidar is a must visit, because the roots of each of the later Golconda, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Bidar and Ahmednagar Deccan sultanates lie in the disintegration of the Bahmani kingdom which began in 1518 after the death of Shihabuddin Mahmud (or Mahmud Shah Bahmani). Though all of the Deccan sultanates declared independence in 1518 after Mahmud’s death, the last four Sultans after him, namely Ahmed IV, Alauddin Shah, Waliullah and Kalimullah, were simply titular kinds (till 1538), who received only verbal homage (from the truncated or separated independent kingdoms) and some tributes.
Mahmud’s reign from 1482 to 1518 shows that he practically had no power on his own and was playing into the hands of his provincial governors. Post his death, Bidar was taken over the Baridis (it was later annexed to Bijapur shortly after by the Adil Shahis), and Sultan Quli became the ruler of Golconda (he was earlier governor and the place was called Tilang). The tombs in Bidar are a very fine example of Dakhni architecture, which was essentially born out of proper cultural synthesis between the Persian and the local cultures of the areas. The Bahmani dynasty was established in 1347 by Alauddin Hasan Bahman Shah, which basically broke-off from Tughluq’s empire and claimed its own supremacy.
In fact, Alauddin’s own ambition was to sit on the seats of the Tughluqs.