TRIBUTE: Could Prince Mukarram Jah realise his dream of driving to Turkey ever?

He once wrote to the Prime Minister of India about his travel plans to Turkey by road.

(Mukarram Jah in his Austin Champ jeep)

(Mukarram Jah in his Austin Champ jeep)

HYDERABAD: Mir Osman Ali Khan, the VII and last Nizam of Hyderabad, anointed his grandson Mir Barkat Ali Khan Siddique, also known as Mukarram Jah, as his successor. Mukarram Jah became a titular head in 1971. He always lived abroad and desired that his body be laid to rest in Hyderabad.

Mukarram Jah was born in Hilafet Palace, Nice, France. He died at Istanbul, Turkey, at 90 years of age on January 14,2023 at 10.30 p.m.

Mukarram Jah Bahadur, the last Nizam of Hyderabad, H.E.H. Mir Barkat Ali Khan, turned 89 on October 6, 2022. He was born in Nice, France in 1933 to General H.H. Prince Azam Jah Bahadur and Princess Durru Shehvar at Hilafet Palace. While his mother was an Ottoman Princess and the only daughter of the Ottoman Empire's final Caliph, Sultan Abdul Mejid II, his father, Prince Azam Jah Bahadur, was the eldest son of H.E.H. Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur (Asaf Jah VII).

(Prince Mukarram Jah as a child. Picture rendered in colour from black and white by Aun Mehdi)

He has been referred to as the eighth and final Nizam of Hyderabad since his great grandfather, H.E.H. the Nizam VII, announced him as the designated heir on June 14, 1954. The Government of India (GoI) also recognised his succession in principle on March 1, 1964.

(Mukarram Jah as a toddler with his parents, the Prince and Princess of Berar)

(With his Mom)

Mukarram Jah, who was well known for his passion for machines, off-roading, landscaping, and travel, currently lives in Turkey and occasionally travels to London.

The Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), formerly the Bellavista Palace, was the principal residence of the Prince of Berar Azam Jah. It is here the eighth Nizam Mukarram Jah was brought up as a child.

The Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, his son Azam Jah Bahudur & Princess Durru Shehvar and Prince Mukarram Jah (The Lineage)

(Prince Azmet Jah, Princess Shehkar Jah with Prince Mukarram Jah)

Let us look at some little-known facts about Hyderabad's last Nizam Mukarram Jah Bahadur

In addition to many other things, Hyderabad's last Nizam was also fondly recalled as a motorist par excellence. HEH The Nizam, Mir Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, had developed a fervour for off-roading and voyages. The Chowmohalla Palace, which functioned as the Nizam's official residence, still houses many of the high-end vehicles he drove.

(Nizam's Napier Thorne car displayed at Chowmohalla Palace in Hyderabad)

He once wrote to the Prime Minister of India about his travel plans to Turkey by road.

It is fascinating to note that the young Nizam was nurturing an aspiration to drive to Turkey, according to the declassified archives of the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India.

His plans to travel to Turkey entirely by land were detailed in a letter he had sent to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

(H.E.H the Nizam of Hyderabad and Princess Esra, on the occasion of Durbar of his formal proclamation as the eight Nizam of Hyderabad)

In a letter dated May 27, 1968 and marked confidential, PN Haskar, Secretary to the Prime Minister, discussed this, among other topics, with L.P Singh, Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

"The Nizam has also written to the Prime Minister, seeking permission to go abroad, travelling by jeep to Pakistan and then to Samarkand, Bukhara, the Soviet Union and Turkey."

The Nizam cited his maternal and paternal connections from Samarkand and Bukhara. He had stated that he was travelling by jeep to leisurely appreciate the architectural remnants of the culture he had inherited from his two lines of ancestors.

And after a little delay, eventually in April 1968, the Prime Minister finally responded in the most friendly manner, beginning with an apology, and addressed the Nizam. She had expressed her admiration for the Nizams' efforts and offered her blessings and best wishes. She wrote, among other things, "The Indian part of the journey will be very warm... Take proper care in planning the trip and driving such a long distance."

(True copy of letter dated 16/04/1968 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi addressed to Prince Mukarram Jah

Unfortunately, this journey never became a reality. He apparently ran out of funds. Even though his grandfather was the richest man, the royal family had to seek permission from the Government of India at every stage to spend their own wealth and that which accrued from the privy purses after the change in ruling dispensation and abolition of monarchy and princely states.

(From Aun Mehdi's personal collection: A seemingly out of the ordinary photograph of The Nizam as an infant Prince in 1935. It shows him as a year old toddler being held in the arms of Nawab Mir Subhan Ali Khan, Bar-at-law, later Colonel in the Regular Forces, sometime A.D.C. to his father, The Prince of Berar)

Additionally, the royals found it difficult to travel abroad; neither the Nizam nor his mother ever did so by themselves. They were always accompanied by their secretarial staff, and each time they needed to secure ad hoc and special authorization as well as the "p-form," which required a lot of communication and approvals.

In addition to such macho endeavours, the Prince has genuine altruistic intentions. Even though he was in London for academics, the Prince was aware of his responsibilities as a future Monarch and sent his condolences on the death of a confidant, Col. Subhan Ali Khan.

(Telegram dated 2/5/1958 sent from Hyderabad House in London by "Barkat" which stands for Nawab Mir Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah Bahadur, addressed to Nawab Alam Yar Jung Bahadur (Aun Mehdi's great grand father), condoling the death of Mir Subhan Ali Khan, whom the Prince counted among his trusted firsts)

Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur hurried to Hyderabad after learning of Mir Subhan's demise before his embalmed remains were transported to Karbala, Iraq, where he was buried. He is said to have stood patiently on the platform until the bogies gained momentum and eventually lost sight of him.

*With inputs from Aun Mehdi, Great grand son of Nawab Alam yar jung Bahadur (Chief Justice and law minister Hyderabad state) and Col Subhan Ali khan (ADC to the prince of Berar).

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