Thursday 4 January 2018

Niloufer: The beguiling Last Ottoman princess of Hyderabad

The Beguiling Princess Begum Niloufer Khanum Sultana Farhat (1916 –1989) was one of the last princesses of the Ottoman Empire. She was born in the Goztepe Palace in Istanbul in Turkey. Princess was married with Prince Moazzam Jaah, the second son of the Nizam of Hyderabad, His Exalted Highness Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan.

Niloufer was born at a time when her mother's family was ruling the Ottoman Empire. Her father was Damad Moralizada Salaruddin Bey Effendi, a prominent member of the Ottoman court. Her mother, Adile Sultan, was a daughter of Şehzade Mehmed Selaheddin, the eldest son of Sultan Murad V, and a sister of Sultan Abdülmecid II, the last caliph.

Niloufer, at the age of eight, moved with her parents into exile in Nice in France. At the end of World War I, the ruling dynasty was deposed and Turkey was declared a republic. Later, in 1924, the Ottomans were exiled from Turkey. They settled in France. 

Princess Niloufer
This resulted Sultan, Abdul Majid II, who also had the title of the Khalifa, to give up his palatial possessions. For the Muslims worldwide, this was a low point in their history when the Khalifa himself became a poor man.

At that time, rescue came from the Nizam of Hyderabad.  The Nizam promised Khalifa a pension of 300 British Pounds a month.  On this income, the Khalifa maintained his establishment. 

The deposition of the Khalifa was a significant political event. During this Khilafat movement, to restore the Khalifat, Maulana Shoukat Ali came to be on very friendly terms with the Khalifa. Seeing that the Khalifa had no son, Shoukat Ali proposed that the Khalifa’s daughter, Durru Shehvar, be married to Azam Jaah the elder son of Nizam.

Prince Moazama Jaah and Princess Niloufer

The negotiations for the terms of the marriage started, but soon broke down as the Nizam felt that the requirement for the Mehr was exorbitant.  Eventually, the Nizam was able to get two marriages within the specified amount.

On December 20, 1931, at her maternal uncle's Palace in Nice, Niloufer was married at age 16 to Moazzam Jaah, second son of the last ruling Nizam of Hyderabad. The Nizam's elder son and heir was married to Niloufer's first cousin, Dürrü şehvar, daughter of Sultan Abdülmecid II. The Khalifa himself acted as the Qazi.

They were taught how to wear sarees, and the expected etiquette in the presence of the Nizam.  With great trepidation, they boarded the train to Hyderabad.

Thus, one of the last princesses of the Ottoman Empire, Princess Niloufer brought grace and rebellion to conservative India upon marrying Moazzam Jaah. Pushing boundaries with her sense of style and challenging traditional norms for women, she encouraged others to follow their hearts too.
Princess Niloufer

Niloufer and Moazzam Jaah moved in to magnificent Hill Fort palace. It was a large palace, purchased from the previous owner, Sir Nizamat Jung. Who served as chief justice in the government of Nizam, India. This building still stands, on the ascent from Public Gardens to Noubat Pahad.  
Hill Fort Palace Hyderabad

Prince Moazzam Jaah was a poet himself and almost every evening, Moazzam Jaah organized a Mushaera.  Many well known names were present in the gatherings. Fond of a lavish lifestyle, he doted on his wife and got her painted and photographed. Life seemed to be hunky-dory.
Princesses Durru Shehvar and Niloufer were distant cousins. So when they moved to Nice, France, Princess Niloufer noticed a drastic change in her lifestyle,”. “Princess Durru Shehvar’s father was Abdülmecid II, the last Caliph of the Muslim world; a position held with respect and utmost dignity in the community.

Princess Niloufer’s mother Adile Sultan was a widow and that lowered her social strata. In her letters, Princess Niloufer writes how she had to go to public schools while Princess Durru Shehvar had private tutors coming home.
 The first daughter in-law Durru Shehvar gave birth to a son, Mukarram Jaah. When several years passed, and still Niloufer had not conceived, she consulted various doctors in Europe and was planning to go to America for a medical visit.

This ravishing princess also had a heart that beat for others. When she saw her maid servant, Rafat-un-nisa, die during childbirth she got devastated. She did not remain content with just sympathizing with the bereaved family but decided to do something for women in general. “Hereafter, no more Rafats shall die for want of good medical facilities,” she resolved.
This tragic incident led to the establishment of a hospital for women and children which the Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, named after his daughter-in-law, the present “NILOFAR HOSPITAL” in Red Hills.
Moazzam Jaahi Market
While her private life seemed empty due to lack of children, her public life became very glittering.  She was invited to several functions, inaugurated several events and became a torch-bearer for women’s advancement.
Meanwhile, the specialist doctors in Europe were unable to deduce a solution to her childlessness. In 1948, 17 years after his marriage to Niloufer, her husband Moazzam took a second wife, Razia Begum, daughter of local aristocracy in Hyderabad.
The second marriage was quickly blessed with children and three daughters were born within four years. Eventually, in 1952, after 21 years of marriage, Niloufer and her husband were divorced.
 Princesses Niloufer was judged one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world, and was offered several roles in films. Niloufer had a style of dressing that attracted the public and caught the attention of the fashion media. Her sarees were especially crafted by Madhavdas, a designer from Bombay. 

When India became independent, Niloufer was in a peculiar position.  Hyderabad had yet to decide on joining the Indian Union.  As this situation dragged on, eventually Hyderabad was amalgamated into the Indian Union by a “Police Action”. 

Although the Nizam was retained as the Head of the State, he was just a shadow of his former self. Niloufer decided never to return to India again. Her marriage with Moazzam Jaah came to an end in 1952.  She continued to live in Paris, with her mother, in a flat.

After her divorce, Niloufer moved to France where the Ottoman family had settled after their exile from Turkey. A number of other royal exiles from several countries were also settled in Nice and the Côte d'Azur and Niloufer maintained an active social life. On February 21, 1963, in Paris, Niloufer married Edward Julius Pope, an American war hero, author, and film producer. She died in Paris in 1989 and was buried next to her mother.

Royal Darbar Hall of Nizams in Khilwat Shareef in Hyderabad

 Princess Niloufer Farhat Begum of Hyderabad was the ‘Kohinoor of Hyderabad’ and one of the most beautiful women in the world. “Princess Niloufer’s extraordinary beauty made her an object of admiration by the public.

Written with help of materials available on net and posted by Engr Maqbool Akram

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