Why the Nizams of Hyderabad Did Have Kulcha, a Popular Indian Bread as Their Official Insignia?
The Asaf Jahi Royalty of Hyderabad knew their food and took their culinary affairs as seriously as their administrative matters. So much so that the first Nizam of Hyderabad, Qamar-ud-din Khan, chose to give the humble Indian bread – ‘kulcha’, a special place on the official flag of their kingdom!
It’s amazing but the Nizams of Hyderabad actually had the kulcha as their official insignia. Here’s the intriguing story of how this popular Indian bread became the grand emblem on the Nizam’s flag! Like all great stories, this one is also spiced with legends and dark prophecies.
The Asaf Jahi dynasty (the official title of the Nizam’s of Hyderabad) was founded in the 18th century CE by Mir Qamar-ud-Din Khan Asaf Jah, a courtier at the Mughal court. Asaf Jah’s family had served the Mughal rulers for generations.
In 1712, when Mir Qamar-ud-Din was appointed the Governor of Deccan, he was given the title of Nizam-Ul-Mulk. He was only too happy to leave Delhi which had become a cesspool of political intrigue after Aurangzeb’s death. But before he took up the job of Subedar-i-Dakhan (Governor of Deccan), Mir Qamar-ud-Din went to meet his spiritual guide, the Sufi mystic Hazrat Nizamuddin Aurangabadi (whose dargah still exists in Shahganj, Aurangabad).
The story goes that the pir Hazrat Nizamuddin invited him for a meal and offered him kulchas tied in a yellow cloth. The hungry Mir Qamar-ud-Din ate seven kulchas and after his meal, Hazrat Nizamuddin blessed him and prophesied that one day he would be king and that his descendants would rule for seven generations!
The prophecy soon came true. When the Mughal Empire collapsed, Mir Qamar-ud-Din was able to declare independence from Delhi and lay the foundation of the Asaf Jahi dynasty in Hyderabad. As a gesture of gratitude to the Sufi Saint who had blessed him, Mir Qamar-ud-Din the first Nizam of Hyderabad, proudly adopted the symbol of the kulcha as part of his royal insignia and the colour yellow to denote the cloth the pir’s kulchas were packed in – as the colour of his official flag.
Interestingly, the Asaf Jahi dynasty only lasted seven generations. The seventh Nizam, Nawab Sir Osman Ali Khan joined the Indian union. The eighth descendant, Mukarram Jah managed to lose everything he had inherited!
However, many historians have later claimed that the round object in the middle of the flag denoted the moon and not a kulcha. The jury is still out and many people in Hyderabad believe that it was indeed a kulcha represented on the flag. The lavish food preparations that originated during the glorious rule of the Nizams of Hyderabad are as famous as their governance and architecture and this particular anecdote perhaps indicates why.