The founder of this dynasty was one Mir Kamaruddin, a noble and a courtier of the Mughal Muhammad Shah, who negotiated for a peace treaty with Nadirshah, the Iranian invader; got disgusted with the intrigues that prevailed in Delhi. He was on his way back to the Deccan, where, earlier he was a Subedar. But he had to confront Mubariz Khan, as a result of a plot by the Mughal emperor to kill the former. Mubariz Khan failed in his attempt and he was himself slain. This took place in A.D.1724, and henceforth Mir Kamaruddin, who assumed the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk, conducted himself as an independent prince. Earlier, while he was one of the Ministers of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah, the latter conferred on him the title of Asaf Jah. Thus begins the Asaf Jahi rule over Golconda with the capital at Aurangabad. It was only during Nizam II rule that the capital of the Deccan Subha was shifted to Hyderabad reviving its importance.
The Asafjahi Nizams are generally counted as seven, though they were ten. Nasir Jung and Muzaffar Jung, son and grandson of the Nizam I who were killed by the Kurnool and Cuddapah Nawabs and Salabatjung who also ruled for a decade, were not counted by the historians though the Mughal emperors at Delhi recognised them as Subedars of the Deccan.
The Nizams of Asafjahi dynasty who ruled the Deccan are the following:
(1) Mir Kamaruddin (Nizam-ul-Mulk – Asaf Jah I) (A.D.1724–1748), (2) Nasir Jung (A.D. 1748–1751), (3) Muzaffar Jung (A.D.1750–1751), (4) Salabat Jung (AD.1751–1761), (5) Nizam Ali Khan – Asaf Jah II (A.D.1762–1803), (6) Nizam III Sikandar Jah (A.D.1803–1829), (7) Nizam IV — Nasir-ud-Daula (A.D.1829–1857), (8) Nizam V — Afzal-ud-Daula (A.D.1857–1869), (9) Nizam VI — Mir Mahaboob Ali Khan (A.D.1869–1911), and (10) Nizam VII — Mir Osman Ali Khan (AD.1911–1948 September).
Though Hyderabad was founded in A.D.1590–91 and built by Muhammad Quli, the fifth king of the Qutbshahi dynasty, it was a princely capital under them. The pomp and peagantry of the fabulous Asafjahi Nizams gained an all-India importance as well as World wide recognition. The rule of the Nizams lasted not only for a much longer period from A.D.1724 to 1948 but also concerned a large territory with diverse language groups that came under their sway.
The authority of the founder of the State of Hyderabad, Asafjah I, extended from Narmada to Trichinapally and from Machilipatnam to Bijapur. During the period of Afzal-ud-Daula (A.D.1857–1869) it was estimated to be 95,337 sq.miles (2,46,922.83 sq.kms.), forming a lateral square of more than 450 miles (724.17 kms.) each way.
After Nizam I, Asaf Jah, died in A.D.1748, there was tussle for power among his son, Nasar Jung, and grandson Muzaffar Jung. The English supported Nasar Jung whereas Muzaffar Jung got support from the French. These two heirs were subsequently killed by Nawabs of Kurnool and Cuddapah, one after another, in A.D.1750 and AD.1751 respectively. The third son of Nizam I, Salabat Jung became the ruler as Nizam under the support of the French.
Hostilities recommenced in India between the French and the English in AD.1758 on the outbreak of Seven Years War in Europe in A.D.1756. As a result, the French lost their power in India and consequently it also lost influence at Hyderabad. In A.D.1762 Nizam Ali Khan dislodged Salabat Jung and proclaimed himself as Nizam.
Hyderabad came into focus again when Nizam Ali Khan (Nizam II) in A.D.1763 shifted the capital of the Deccan from Aurangabad to Hyderabad. Such a move helped rapid economic growth and expansion of the city, resulting in its importance and prosperity.
Between A.D.1766 and A.D.1800, Nizam’s sovereignty had declined considerably and the British gained their authority over the Nizams by compelling the latter to sign six treaties.
In A.D.1766, the Nizam signed a treaty with the British, whereby in return for the Northern Circars, the British agreed to furnish Nizam Ali Khan with a subsidiary force as and when required and to pay Rs.9 lakhs per annum when the assistance of the troops was not required in lieu of Northern Circars to be ceded to them. In A.D.1768 he signed another treaty conferring the Northern Circars to the British and the payment by the British was reduced to Rs.7 lakhs. According to another treaty, he surrendered the Guntur circar in A.D.1788. In A.D.1779, the Nizam conspired with Hyder Ali of Mysore and the Peshwa of the Marathas to drive away the English. When they learnt about his designs, the English marched against the Nizam who had to sue for peace agreeing to the presence of an English Resident along with army, artillery and cavalry at Hyderabad.
Through another treaty, the Nizam was compelled to disassociate himself from Hyder Ali. In A.D.1800 yet another treaty was signed by the Nizam with the British altering the earlier treaties to increase the strength of the English army in Hyderabad. In lieu of the cost of maintenance of the force, the Nizam had to cede to the company an area comprising the districts of Rayalaseema and Bellary (now in Karnataka). With this the Nizam lost not only the territory but also reputation and power.
The East India Company acquired the Nellore region comprising the present Nellore and Prakasam districts and a part of the Chittoor district from the Nawab of Arcot in A.D.1781. Together with the other parts of the territories of the Nawab, this area was merged with the then Madras Presidency of the Company in A.D.1801. Thus, by the beginning of the 19th century, the Telugu land was divided into major divisions: one that came to be popularly called Telangana under the feudal rule of the Nizam, accounting approximately one-third of the entire land and the other, broadly designated as Andhra, in British India.
It was during the period of Nizam III — Sikandar Jah (A.D.1803–1829), that the English cantonment, raised on the other side of Hussain Sagar, was named after him as Secunderabad. This township grew rapidly as the modern town with Railway station and other commercial establishments. The notable events under the rule (A.D. 1857–1869) of Nizam V, Afzal-ud-Daula, were the construction of the Afzal Gunj Bridge or the Nayapul, over the river Musi and the establishment of a General Hospital.
The modern era of the development of the twin cities began soon after the last flood of the river Musi in A.D.1908 which had shattered the life of the people living in Hyderabad. This necessitated the planned development of the city in a phased manner. Sri M.Vishweshwarayya, the great engineer of Mysore, was specially invited for this purpose and was appointed as adviser to the Nizam’s Government to suggest measures for flood control and improvement of the city. As a result of his suggestion, Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar were constructed in A.D.1917. These two dams not only controlled the floods from river Musi, but also supplied drinking water to the city. These spots have also become recreational centres for many people in Hyderabad. Another step taken for the development of the city was the formation of the City Improvement Board in A.D.1912, which paid greater attention to the construction of roads,
markets, housing sites and shopping centres in the city. Nizam VII, Osman Ali Khan, also moved to Kingkothi, the northern suburb of the city in A.D.1914, which helped in the development of its surroundings. Several public utility services were commissioned in A.D.1922. Electricity was commissioned in A.D.1923. In A.D.1928 with the establishment of rail connection to Bangalore, the city was brought on the metre-gauge map of India. By A.D.1932 bus service was started in the city and in A.D.1936 the bus routes radiated from the capital to all the district headquarters. In A.D.1935, the Madras-Karachi Air Service was linked with Hyderabad with Hakimpet as landing ground.
Many buildings of utility like Legislative Assembly, Hyderabad and Secunderabad railway stations, the High Court, City College, the Asafia Library (present State Central Library), the Unani Hospital, the Osmania University, were constructed during the reign of Nizam VII.
If Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was the founder of Hyderabad City, Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam VII, can be called as the maker of modern Hyderabad, in a variety of ways. The buildings constructed during his reign are impressive and represent a rich variety of architecture, such as the magnificent Osmania University, synthesizing the modern, the medieval and the ancient styles of architecture. The sprawling Osmania General Hospital in the Mughal style, the lofty High Court in Indo-Saracenic style, the stately well-proportioned Legislative Assembly building in Saracenic-Rajasthani style, symbolize his desire to build modern and majestic Hyderabad. The engineers or the architects and craftsmen of the period have to be congratulated for their talent.
A fascinating pretty edifice in the centre of the city is the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly building, with the lawns of the Public Gardens, to form the needed premises.
The noble buildings during the Asafjahis’ period were the Chow Mahalla during Nizam V, Pancha Mahal, and the Falaknuma Palace. The Falaknuma, built by Nawab Viquar-ul-Umra, a Paigha Noble in A.D.1892 at a cost of Rs.40 lakhs, has become a land mark like Charminar.
The hereditary Diwans of the Nizams, the Salar Jungs were as colourful and dazzling as their masters. The Mir Alam Tank, the Mir Alam Mandi, the Salar Jung Museum, their Devdi, the Aliya School are inalienable parts of Hyderabad.