Hyderabad – The History of a Capital
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah founded the city of Hyderabad in AD 1591 and for almost a hundred years, the Qutb Shahi dynasty dominated the region before it eventually fell to the Mughals.
In 1724, the erstwhile Mughal Viceroy of the Deccan and tributory Asif Jah I declared his independence when the Mughal empire weakened in Delhi. Historically, his line was believed to belong to Samarkhand in modern day Uzbekistan. With this unchallenged declaration, Asif Jah founded the fabulously wealthy Turkic dynasty of the Nizams of Hyderabad, ruling from 1724 to 1748.
Mir Qamar ud din Khan Siddiqi or Asif Jah I was also known as Chin Qilich Khan, a title awarded by Aurangzeb. The word “Nizam” is shortened from “Nizam ul Mulk” translating to “Administrator of the Realm”.
The Nizam’s dominions consolidated into a princely state under the patronage of the British. The dynasty ruled for 150 years, with Hyderabad as its capital – which status it continued to enjoy even after the state merged with the Indian Union in 1948 and became Andhra Pradesh.
In 2014, a new region called Telegana was formed after a split from Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad was mandated to continue as the joint capital of both states, until the year 2025.
Hyderabad displays its signature and strappings of royalty with pride. The last cultural and architectural vestiges of the Qutb Shahi are visible all over the city and even in the courtly and gentle manners and customs of the people. The aromas of the city’s distinctive cuisine, known as Mughlai or “that of the Mughals” have reached all corners of the sophisticated, civilized world and their famous kababs, biryani and haleem are served at the tables of the rich and famous and enjoyed equally by the poor and not so wealthy.
The Qutb Shahis and Nizams carefully nurtured Hyderabad as a refined, cultural universe, attracting scholars of distinction from all over the globe. The cultural shift happened with the decline of Delhi’s emperors and swung towards the music, dance, poetry, theatre and beauty of Hyderabad….a fairytale city enriched by its trade in pearls and diamonds from such legendary mines as the Golkonda, from where the Koh-i-noor was first taken. Hyderabad continues to be distinguished by its name as the City of Pearls and visitors rarely leave without indulging in pearl shopping.