History of Hyderabad (India)


Hyderabad is a historic city noted for its many monuments, temples, churches, masjids, and bazaars. A multitude of influences has shaped the character of the city in the last 400 years.

The city is forming its role and outlook as part of the booming service industry revolution, and is trying to preserve and popularize its history.

Ancient history

Archaeologists excavating near the city have unearthed Iron Age sites that can be dated to 500 BCE.[1] The area around Hyderabad was ruled by the Mauryan Empire in the third century B.C during the reign of Ashoka the Great. After the death of Ashoka (232 BCE), as the Maurya Empire began to weaken and decline, the Sātavāhanas who started out as feudatories to the Mauryan dynasty, declared independence and established their empire in this region. The Sātavāhana Empire or Andhra Empire, was a royal Indian dynasty based from Dharanikota and Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh as well as Junnar (Pune) and Prathisthan (Paithan) in Maharashtra. The territory of the empire covered much of the Deccan plateau & central India for 450 years,i.e., from 230 BCE onward until around 220 CE. After the decline of the Satavahana Empire in 220 AD, the region came under the rule of the Andhra Ikshvaku dynasty (225 AD - 325 AD), the successors of the Satavahanas in the eastern Deccan. The capital of Andhra Ikshvaku dynasty was the town of Nagarjunakonda in modern day Guntur district and named after Nagarjuna, a southern Indian master of Mahayana Buddhism who lived in the 2nd century AD, who is believed to have been responsible for the Buddhist activity in the area.

Medieval history

Various Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms ruled the area during the subsequent centuries. The area was ruled by the Kalyani branch of the Chalukya kings. When the Chalukya kingdom became weaker, Kakatiyas, who were feudal chieftains of Chalukya, declared independence and setup their kingdom around Warangal.

The fall of Warangal to Muhammad bin Tughluq's forces from the Delhi Sultanate in 1321 AD brought anarchy to the region. For the next few decades, the Bahmani Sultanate of the Deccan fought the Musunuri Nayakas on the north and the Vijayanagara Rayas on the south for control of the region. By the middle of the 15th century, the region was under the firm control of the Bahmani Sultanate which controlled the Deccan north of the Krishna River from coast to of sultanat


In 1589, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah,[2] the ruler of Qutb Shahi dynasty, selected the present site of the city and named it "Bhaganagar" or "Bhāgnagar" after Bhāgmathi, a local nautch (dancing) girl with whom he had fallen in love.[3] She converted to Islam and adopted the title Hyder Mahal. The city was renamed Hyderabad in her honour.[3] According to another source, the city was named after Haidar, the son of Quli Qutb Shah.[4] Andrew Petersen, a scholar of Islamic architecture, says the city was originally called Baghnagar (city of gardens).[5]

The Qutb Shahis

The Golconda Sultanate

In 1463, Sultan Mohammad Shah Bahmani dispatched Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk to the Telangana region to quell disturbances. Sultan Quli quelled the disturbance and was rewarded as the administrator of the region. He established a base at Kakatiya hill fortress of Golconda which he strengthened and expanded considerably. By the end of the century, Quli ruled from Golconda as the Subedar of Telangana region. Quli enjoyed virtual independence from Bidar, where the Bahmani sultanate was then based. In 1518, when the Bahmani Sultanate disintegrated into five different kingdoms, with the others based in Ahmednagar, Berar, Bidar and Bijapur. Sultan Quli declared independence from the Bahmani Sultanate and established the Golconda Sultanate under the title "Sultan Quli Qutub Shah",[6] he rebuilt the mud-fort of Golconda and named the city as "Muhammad nagar".[7][8]

Founding of a new city

Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah of the Qutub Shahi dynasty built the city of Hyderabad on the Musi River five miles (8 km) east of Golconda in 1589. The Purana Pul ("old bridge") spanning the Musi was built a few years earlier, enabling quick travel between Golconda and Hyderabad. Hyderabad was named as the City of Hyder after the title of the Fourth Caliph Ali. Many people though, commonly believe that the city of "Hyderabad" was named after the people as their residence as "City of the Brave" from the Persian words "Hyder/Haider" (Persian and Urdu meaning lion or brave and "Abad/Abaad" (Persian and Urdu meaning abode or populated) after surviving the plaque epidemic that ravaged Golkonda. There is another urban myth and folklore which may be an apocryphal that the Sultan named it after his wife Hyder Mahal (not likely he gave her a male name or title). Lack of space for expansion in Golconda fort city made the Sultan called up his best of advisers to search for a new virgin wooded elevated land site near a river void of any man-made structures or monuments. The city concept was planned on grid-iron pattern reflective of well related precincts with an iconic monument as the main foci. He also ordered the construction of the Char Minar in 1591 a tall structure to oversee the urban development and to keep watch of the river banks flooding the nearby areas causing epidemics of grave nature.

Growth of the new city

The early history of Hyderabad is inextricably intertwined and fortune rose during the 16th and early 17th centuries, Hyderabad became a center of a vibrant diamond trade. All seven Qutb Shahi sultans were patrons of learning and were great builders. They contributed to the growth and development of Indo-Persian and Indo-Islamic literature and culture in Hyderabad. Some of the sultans were known as patrons of local Telugu culture as well. During the Qutb Shahi reign Golconda became one of the leading markets in the world for diamonds, pearls, steel, arms, and also printed fabric. In the 16th century the city grew to accommodate the surplus population of Golconda and eventually became the capital of the Qutb Shahi rulers. Hyderabad became known for its gardens (called baghs) and its comfortable climate.

Mughal conquest and rule

By the mid-17th century, politics in the Deccan were ready for yet another tectonic shift. Mughal prince Aurangzeb spent most of his time in the Deccan fighting local Hindu and Muslim kingdoms to establish and enforce Mughal Sovereignty. After the death of Shah Jahan in 1666, Aurangzeb consolidated his power in Delhi as Emperor and returned to the south. He spent most of his imperial reign in military camps in the Deccan, in an almost desperate campaign to expand the empire beyond the greatest extent it had reached under Akbar. The biggest prize in his eyes was the rich city of Hyderabad, protected by the reportedly impregnable fort of Golconda.

Hyderabad falls to the Mughals

Aurangzeb with his commanders Khwaja Abid Siddiqi (Qulich Khan) s/o Shaikh Mir Ismail Siddiqi and Qaziuddin Siddiqi (Feroze Jung) father and son laid siege to Golconda in 1686. Golconda held fast under months of siege, and Aurangzeb had to retreat in frustration. Aurangzeb returned in 1687 and laid siege for 9 months camping in the Fateh Maidan ("victory field", now the Lal Bahadur Stadium). Khwaja Abid Siddiqi (Qulich Khan) died in these war and was buried at Kismatpur near Attapur Hyderabad. Local legend has it that the fortress held on, but the gates were opened at night by a saboteur Abdullah Khan Pani who was bribed by Aurangzeb. Sultan Abul Hassan Tana Shah, the seventh king of the dynasty, was taken prisoner. Hyderabad's independence was eclipsed. Aurangzeb's efforts would turn out largely in vain, with Hyderabad remaining in Mughal hands for less than four decades.

For a few decades, Hyderabad declined, and its vibrant diamond trade was all but destroyed. Aurangzeb's attention moved away quickly to other parts of the Deccan, with the Marathas slowly but steadily gaining ground against the Mughals.

The Asaf Jahis

Viceroys become kings

With the emaciation of the Mughal Empire after Aurangzeb's death in 1707, the Mughal-appointed governors of Hyderabad gained more autonomy from Delhi. In 1724,Chin Qulich Khan Asaf Jah I Mir Qamaruddin Siddiqi son of Qaziuddin Siddiqi and grandson of Khwaja Abid siddiqi (Qulich Khan), who was granted the title Nizam-ul-Mulk (governor of the country) by the Mughal emperor, defeated a rival official to establish control over Hyderabad. Thus began the Asaf Jahi dynasty that would rule Hyderabad until a year after India's independence from Britain.

Hyderabad starts growing again

Main street of Hyderabad with Charminar, 1890

Asaf Jah's successors ruled as Nizams of Hyderabad. The rule of the seven Nizams saw the growth of Hyderabad both culturally and economically. Hyderabad became the formal capital of the kingdom and Golconda, the former capital, was all but abandoned. Survey work on Nagarjuna Sagar had also begun during this time.

The Nizams and foreign powers

When the British and the French spread their hold over the country, successive Nizams won their friendship without bequeathing their power. The Nizams allied themselves with each side at different times, playing a significant role in the wars involving Tipu Sultan of Mysore, the British and the French. During the reign of the third Nizam, Sikandar Jah, the city of Secunderabad was founded to station French troops and subsequently, British troops. The British stationed a Resident at Hyderabad and their own troops at Secunderabad, but the state continued to be ruled by the Nizam. Maintenance of British forces, which was part of subsidiary alliance with British, has put heavy burden on Hyderabad state and bankrupted it in early 19th century.[9] Hyderabad, under the Nizams, was the largest princely state in India, with an area larger than England, Scotland and Wales combined. It was considered the "senior-most" princely-state, and within the elaborate protocols of the Raj, its ruler the Nizam was accorded a 21-gun salute. Development of modern facilities and industrialization in Hyderabad city started in late 19th century.[10] The State had its own currency, mint, railways, and postal system. There was no income tax. The Nizam amassed a lot of wealth.[11]


Various industries emerged in pre-independence Hyderabad, the major industries that were established in various parts of Hyderabad/Telengana are:[12][13][14]
Industries in pre-Independence Hyderabad
Company Year
Singareni Collieries 1921
Nizam Sugar Factory 1937
Allwyn Metal Works 1942
Praga Tools 1943
Sirsilk 1946
Hyderabad Asbestos 1947
Vazir Sultan Tobacco Company,Charminar cigarette factory 1930
Karkhana Zinda Tilismat 1920

Integration into the Indian Union

When India gained independence in 1947, the Nizam declared his intention to remain independent, either as a sovereign ruler or by acquiring Dominion status within the British Empire. In order to keep essential trade and supplies flowing, he signed a Standstill Agreement with the Indian Union which surrounded him on all sides. The law and order situation soon deteriorated, with escalating violence between the private Razakar army fighting for continuation of the Nizam's rule and the people with the support of the Congress leaders like Swami Ramanand Tirtha and the communists of Telangana, were fighting for joining in the Indian Union. As the violence spiraled out of control with refugees flowing into the coastal Andhra region of the Madras state of India, the Indian Government under Home Minister Sardar Patel initiated a police action titled Operation Polo.

On September 16, 1948, Indian Army moved into Hyderabad State from five fronts. Four days later, the Hyderabad forces surrendered. The number of dead was a little over 800. The Police Action achieved success within a matter of days. The Nizam finally surrendered and signed the Instrument of Accession to the Indian Union and Hyderabad was integrated into the Indian Union as a state. In 1955, B. R. Ambedkar, the then chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution, expressed in his report that the city should be designated as the second capital of India after Delhi. He expressed:
"Hyderabad has all the amenities which Delhi has and it is a far better city than Delhi. It has all the grandeur which Delhi has. Buildings are going cheap and they are really beautiful buildings, far superior to those in Delhi. The only thing that is wanting is a Parliament House which the Government of India can easily build."[15]

Hyderabad State

The state got its first democratic government and the representatives of its 18 million people were admitted to the Constituent Assembly drafting a constitution for free India. For the next eight years, Hyderabad continued as a separate state within the union.

States Reorganisation Act

On November 1, 1956, the states of India were reorganized on linguistic grounds. Consequently, the terrorities of the State of Hyderabad were divided between newly created Andhra Pradesh, Bombay state (later Maharashtra), and Karnataka. Hyderabad and the surrounding areas were annexed into India, and later to Andhra Pradesh based on Telugu linguistic majority, and Hyderabad became the capital of the new state of Andhra Pradesh.

Government of India

Since 1956, Rashtrapati Nilayam, Hyderabad, has been the second official residence and business office of the President of India.[16]

See also

1990 Hyderabad riots


  1. ^ Venkateshwarlu, K. (10 September 2008). "Iron Age burial site discovered". The Hindu. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (2007). Historic cities of the Islamic World. BRILL. p. 164. ISBN . Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b McCann, Michael W. (1994). Rights at work: pay equity reform and the politics of legal mobilization. University of Chicago Press. p. 6. ISBN . 
    • The march of India. Publications Division, Ministry of Informations and Broadcasting, Government of India. 1959. p. 89. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
    • Khan, Masud Ḥusain (1996). Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 14–15. ISBN . Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
    • Reddy, Gayatri (2005). With respect to sex: negotiating hijra identity in south India. University of Chicago Press. p. 6. ISBN . 
    • Kakar, Sudhir (1996). The colors of violence: cultural identities, religion, and conflict. University of Chicago Press. p. 23. ISBN . 
  4. ^ Room, Adrian (2006). Placenames of the world: origins and meanings of the names for 6,600 countries, cities, territories, natural features and historic sites. McFarland. p. 171. ISBN . Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Petersen, Andrew (1996). Dictionary of Islamic architecture. Routledge. p. 112. ISBN . 
  6. ^ Sardar, Marika (2007). Golconda through time: a mirror of the evolving Deccan. ProQuest. pp. 19–41. ISBN . 
    • Jaisi, Sidq (2004). The nocturnal court: life of a prince of Hyderabad. Oxford University Press. pp. 29–30. ISBN . 
    • Sastri, Kallidaikurichi Aiyah Nilakanta (1976). A history of south India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar. Oxford University Press. p. 192. ISBN . 
  7. ^ Nayeem, M.A (28 May 2002). "Hyderabad through the ages". The Hindu. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Matsuo, Ara (22 November 2005). "Golconda". University of Tokyo. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  9. ^ "A Gazetteer of the World". Royak Geographica society, Great Britain. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Historical Events of Hyderabad". Hyderabad planet. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "34-carat diamond, once owned by Nizam of Hyderabad, up for auction in US". NDTV.com, Hyderabad. 16 April 2013. 
  12. ^ http://www.hindu.com/br/2009/08/25/stories/2009082550041600.htm
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ "Ambedkar for Hyderabad as second capital of India". Ambedkar.org. 1955. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  16. ^ "Rashtrapati bhavan:presidential retreats". presidentofindia.nic. Retrieved 26 May 2012. Vohra, J.N. (8 July 2007). "Palaces of the President". The Tribune. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 



  • Zubrzycki, John. (2006) The Last Nizam: An Indian Prince in the Australian Outback. Pan Macmillan, Australia. ISBN 978-0-330-42321-2.

External links

  • Photos of Hyderabad History, from Qutb Shahi, Asaf Jahi to till-date
  • Telangana website
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