Saturday, May 10, 1997

Poet, Barrister and Administrator

Poet, Barrister and Administrator
By Narendra Luther
Friday, May 09, 1997 Channel 6

One of the notable figures of Hyderabad during the first half of 20th century Hyderabad was Nizamuddin Ahmed. He was born in 1871, to Rafat Yar Jung I, a noble of Hyderabad who served as subebdar (commissioner) of various divisions of Hyderabad. Nizamuddin Ahmed later became famous as Sir Nizamat Jung.

After matriculating in Hyderabad, he went to England where he graduated from the Trinity College, Cambridge, took a degree in law in 1891 and was later called to the Bar from the Inner Temple in 1895 when he was barely 24. On return, he set up practice in Chennai (then Madras) but had to return to Hyderabad because the State government wanted him to serve the State accordingly to the terms of the loan granted for his studies. In Hyderabad , he joined the Hyderabad Civil Service in 1893 and rose to the positions of eminence like the Home Secretary, Judge, and later Chief Justice of the State High Court.

At the time of the accession of Mir Osman Ali Khan as Nizam VII, he along with Maharaja Kishen Pershad was accused of conspiring against him. Nizamuddin was asked to become an approver but he turned down the offer scornfully and had the facts of the case conveyed to the Nizam. Later, it was discovered that the signatures had been forged. In 1920 he became the Political Secretary and later a member of the Executive Council of the Nizam till he retired in 1929. He was given the title of Nizamat Jung by the Nizam and was knighted by the British.

. His great merit is that besides being a distinguished civil servant he was also an outstanding poet in English who was first published abroad and in the Times Literary Supplement and the Poetry Quarterly of England.

Besides writing himself, he also translated some of the ghazals of Nizam VII and the samples given in D.F.Karaka’s book on the last Nizam called ‘The Fabulous Mughal’ were rendered into English by Sir Nizamat. In his Rural Lyrics he says :

“The little bird that made his nest
With its own little beak,
Has taught me more than learning’s lore
And gives me what I seek.

By instinct taught the builder’s art
To use with native skill,
It tells me of the wondrous powers
That God’s creation fill”.

He however, wrote poetry for pleasure not for publication :

“‘Twas not for fame, ‘twas not for praise
I poured my spirit into song.”

Sir Nizamat Jung was the first president of the poetry of Hyderabad which was established in the year 1921 and remained its president for many terms. Incidentally the Society is still alive and holds monthly meetings regularly. It not only encourages local poets but also discusses poems of poets from all over the world.

In 1915 he had an attack of asthma and it was suggested that he should stay in an open and elevated place like the Noubat Pahad which at that time was called ‘Kali Tedki.' Nizamat Jung bought about 5 acres of land from the Nizam for a sum of Rs.100 and started constructing a mansion for himself. It incorporated a combination of the architectural features of the of his college at Cambridge and the castles in Sir Walter Scott’s novels. For that he took a loan of Rs.100,000 from the government. He named it ‘Hill Fort’

In 1931, on retirement Nizamat Jung performed Haj and this caused a deep change in his outlook. He felt that he should not live in such a big mansion. The Nizam, on coming to know of his intention, offered to buy the property and asked about its price. Nizamat Jung replied that he had spent an amount of Rs.1 lakh. The Nizam asked what appreciation he would like to add to that. Nizamat Jung replied that there was no question of making a profit from his master. He further stated that out of the amount of one lakh rupees, a loan of Rs.30,000 for house building and Rs.3,000 for the purchase of the car should be deducted and the balance of Rs.67,000 might be paid to him. The building was therefore bought by the Nizam in 1932 at a cost of Rs.67,000 only.

It was converted into the official residence of the Junior Prince Maozzam Jah, who was the chairman, of the City Improvement Board set up in 1912.

During the period of the occupation of the building by the Junior Prince, the Hill Fort -- now called ‘Palace' became known for the extravagances and indulgences of the Prince which were later documented by Sidq Jaisi in his Urdu book ‘Darbar-e-Durbar’. I have translated it into English and called it ‘The Nocturnal Court’ since the Prince used to hold his ‘court ‘throughout the night and went to sleep early in the morning to wake up again in the evening. Incidentally, the Prince was also a poet in Urdu and sported the pen-name of ‘Shajih’. His poems are very popular and are often sung in evening parties even today

The building was taken over by government in 1948. After the formation of A.P. in 1956, it was leased to Ritz Hotels which has been running a hotel in it till recently when the lease expired. Not much changes have been made in the building after Prince Maozzam Jah left it in 1948.

Sir Nizamat, apart from his official position is known for his interest in poetry, philosophy and religion, his uprightness and austere living.

Sir Nizamat Jung died in 1954. A family wakf was established by him in 1940 and now it runs a library mainly comprising his books in a building in Barkatpura.

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