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Indian Princely State (21 guns)

Last modified: 2003-06-28 by rob raeside
Keywords: indian princely state | hyderabad |
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[Hyderabad] by Blas Delgado Ortiz

Source: Ziggiotto (1998).

See also:

Some facts

21 guns
1931 area 82,698 square miles
1931 population 14,436,000
Ed Haynes, 3 April 1996

Hyderabad, formerly often called Nizam's Dominions. A former Indian states, its territory now divided among the states Andhra Pradesh, Mysore, and Maharashtra, South-central India; bounded on N and NE by Berar, on S and SE by Tamil Nadu, and on W by Maharashtra; Mountainous in some parts, has many fertile plains; chief rivers Godavari, Wardha, Penganga, Krishna, and Tungabhadra.

History: In ancient kingdom of Golconda; on overthrow of Golconda by Aurangzeb 1687, became part of Mogul Empire; ruled since 1713 by nizams, beginning with Asaf Jah, governor of the Deccan, who founded independent kingdom in 1724; after 1748 scene of rivalry over succession in which British and French supported different candidates; ceded to British Northern Circars 1766 and, in 1853, the 'Assigned Districts' which later became Berar. Refused to become part of India 1947 but yielded under threat of force 1948; reorganized and divided among Andhra Pradesh, Mysore, and Maharashtra 1956.
Jarig Bakker, 11 November 1998

It is a bit of misconception to characterise 1947 as a bid for independence. Nor did Hyderabad "yield under the threat of force": it was a war, albeit brief. 1947 was a mixed bag on the subcontinent: British India gained its independence but the princely states lost theirs. Hyderabad, as the largest of the princely states, had a chance at viability whereas most of the others were much too small to resist India. While Hyderabad submitted to India in 1948, the nizam remained as governor and the state was not broken up until 1956.

The units of the Hyderabad Army (19th century to 1948) had Muslim-style flags (Koranic inscriptions, etc.)
Todd Mills, 14 November 1998

On the flag

The Hyderabad flag bears a circle, and within a shield. In the top and bottom stripes are Urdu inscriptions (see NAVA News XXX-1).
Jaume Ollé, 23 March 1998

Within the white circle is a red device named "dastar", and a shield with an Urdu inscription. This flag is only based on a postage stamp. Flicher reported a different flag (with red inscriptions above and below) and Lupant two other versions: one with blue instead of green bars (and ratio 6:&) with a single inscription at the bottom and a dark yellow background instead of saffron; the other (captioned Nizam's ensign) has inscription above and below, and red bars, but the background is also dark yellow, and has a vertical narrow golden (very dark yellow) stripe at the hoist. In both, the inscriptions are golden or very dark yellow. The Central devices are a bit different in each case.
Jaume Ollé, 21 August 2000

This was the old Hyderabad Flag

Here is the story of the Asafia flag... Asaf Jah 1 was a disciple of a sufi sain called Hazrat Nizamuddin Qutb-e-Deccan. According to a legend he once paid a visit to the saint while he was eating and the Saint invited him to join. Asaf Jah ate seven Kulchas and was asked to have another but he replied in the negative. The Hazrat then predicted: "You and your descendents will rule over the Deccan for seven generations." The Asafia flag bears the insignia of 'kulcha' which lends credence to this tale. History shows that the prophecy of the saint indeed came true with the end of Asafia Dynasty wit Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh nizam of Hyderabad.
collected by Dov Gutterman, 28 Aug 1999

Some additional info from Ziggioto (1998):

Hyderabad was a state with 214.000 sq km, and 15.000.000 inhabitants; its ruler had the title "Nizam". It was annexed by India in 1948, after Winston Churchill had proposed to the United Nations to consider it as an independent state. At present it belongs to Andhra Pradesh state. In the center of the state banner is a disk, named "chapatti" - fortune cookie, sign of the fortune of the founder of the dynasty, Mir Qamar ud-Din Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah. After the Deccan war the nizam got the blessing of a holy man, who offered him a chapatti for good fortune.

On a paper currency of 1918, approximately, the coat of arms appears with the chapatti supported by tigers, crowned by a shield with inscriptions, like in the State flag. This was red saffron, crossed by two wide horizontal green bands, each one charged with two white stripes; in the center the chapatti with an overlapped shield charged by the royal crown (the Shahi Dasta, properly "the royal turban", of gold, lined by green and with a white plume), the shield reclined and recanting the following words in red: "Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah". On the edges of the flag, at the height of the center figure, they appear written in Urdu. The colors corresponded properly to those of Hindu, that constituted the majority of the population, and to those of the Muslims, to which belonged the dynasty. The flag was in proportion die 1:2. According to another version, the flag had nearly square shape and the shield introduced a little different. The royal banner from  1724 was always yellow with a white disc white in the center (kulcha).
Jarig Bakker, 28 April 2002

According to Lux-Wurm (2001), this flag predates the British rule over India:

The city of Hyderabad was founded in 1589 by Muhammad Kuli Kutb Shah, the fifth King of the Kutb Shahid dynasty, to replace the former capital city Golkonda, which was the first center of diamond extraction in the world in the XVIIth century. Hyderabad was initially named Bhagnagar, from the name of a King's concubine called Bhagmati. The Indo-Muslim dynasty of Kutb Shahids was founded in 1496 by a Turcoman warlord, Sultan Kuli Kutb Al-Mulk. Their kingdom stretched out over what is now Deccan. The Kutb Shahids, whose official religion was Sunni, were in permanent conflict with their neighbours the Moghuls, whose official religion was Shiism. In 1687, Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb seized Golkonda and suppressed the Kutb Shahid Kingdom. Hyderabad became the capital city of a state bearing its name. On 11 October 1724, Kamar al-Din Shin Kilieh Khan defeated in Shakarkelda the Hindu Marathis and confirmed the independence of the State of Hyderabad. Since 1720, the Khan had used the unofficial title of "nizam Al-Mulk". The Moghul Emperor Muhammad Shah recognized the independence of Hyderabad and offered the Khan the hereditary title of "Asaf Djah". The first official flag of the State of Hyderabad appeared also in 1724. The Asaf Djah became famous for his court, in which he invited poets, scientists and theologians. In spite of Marathi invasions, the State of Hyderabad was stabilized during the XVIIth century under the 40-year reign of Nizam Ali Khan.

From 1757 onwards, the Nizam was protected by French mercenaries. In 1798, the Brits who had settled in Madras, forced the Nizam to get rid of his French, Irish and American mercenary troops. In 1926, Hyderabad recognized the sovereignty of the British government of India. However, the Brits did not trust the Nizam and established near Hyderabad the big cantonment of Secunderabad. In 1947, the government of Hyderabad State asked to be incorporated into Pakistan, which was not accepted by the Indian Union for geographical reasons. In 1956, the former State of Hyderabad was split between the states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The city of Hyderabad became the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad is now the fifth most important city in India, with more than 3,200,000 inhabitants (more than 5,000,000 when including outskirts). One of the best Indian universities, the Osmania University, is based in Hyderabad. Hyderabad (India) should not be confused with another Hyderabad located in Pakistan (Sind).

The flag of the State of Hyderabad was charged in its center with the personal arms of the Asaf Djah, which changed from ruler to ruler. The field of the flag was red "shandal" (from Sanscrit "shandana"), called by the first English colons sandalwood. According to the Sufi mystics, "shandal" was associated with the qualities of the spirit. The white and green stripes refer to Islam.

Ivan Sache, 29 April 2002