Ancient Indian is full of stories about kings, kingdoms, subjects, wars, and victories. In fact, the stories are as vast and varied as the land itself is.
India has seen multiple kings who had ruled the country before it properly became a republic.
When we talk of a pre-independent India or about ancient history that was a different India. You need to understand that the Indian land was divided into smaller kingdoms, which later came to be known as the princely states. These were states ruled by Kings and Monarchs.
Now, it is no surprise that these Kings and Monarchs lived a life of luxury, a life of vanity that none of us can imagine today.
But do you know, these kings, queens, and monarchs were also some of the richest people in the world, alive at one point?
World’s Richest Person in 1937
This article is about the same. It’s about a king who was touted as the world’s richest person, at one point.
We are talking about Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, who got featured on Time magazine’s cover in 1937 as the world’s richest man alive.
It is believed that kings were often considered rich and wealthy based on two things:
- the personal wealth, they acquired, that is the area of their treasury.
- another aspect was the amount of territory they ruled/owned.
Their richness was also measured by the amount of land they held control over.
But, Osman Ali Khan was rich in both ways.
History of Mir Osman, World’s Richest Person Ever
Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur was the last Nizam (ruler/king) of the princely state of Hyderabad, which was the largest princely state in British India at that point.
He became the king on 29 August 1911 at the age of 25.
He went on to rule the state for around 35 years until India became a democracy. After which, all of these princely states became Indian states and unification happened.
How wealthy was Mir Osman?
He truly was one of the wealthiest people alive at all times.
The wealth of Nizams could be quoted to the Golconda mines, which made Hyderabad the only supplier of diamonds for the entire global market during the 18th century.
Mir Osman inherited this wealth from his father, the then ruler who passed away in 1911.
Also, Hyderabad under British India was also one of the largest States. The area was estimated as 6,000 square miles which could be equated to the size of many European countries in the present day.
At his peak, his wealth was calculated to be Rs.600 crore or $93 million. When the exchange rate was rupees 3.3 per dollar this accounted for an amount of 1% of the US economy at that point in time.
If we adjust this term to inflation it could be anywhere between $150 million to $500 million dollars. He used the Jacob diamond, a 185-carat diamond as a paperweight. He was known for his love for jewels.
The Indian government has preserved some of these jewels. This includes gemstones, necklaces, pendants, belts, earrings, armbands, nose rings, toe rings, and more. The entire number of jewels is said to be 173.
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“His Exalted Highness”
The Nizam was also titled as His Exalted Highness, the only Indian king to be ever called that.
Ally of British
He also came to be known as the ‘Faithful Ally of the British crown’. He was also given these nicknames because he contributed 25 million euros to the British during the first world war.
Architect of Modern Hyderabad
However, along with being one of the wealthiest people, he is also attributed to many reforms that he brought into the country.
The Nizam is also referred to as the architect of modern Hyderabad.
He worked towards the improvement of multiple factors. These include education, science, and industrial development.
During his era electricity was introduced, railways, roads, and airports became prominent in the city of Hyderabad.
He also established multiple public institutions. Like Osmania University, Osmania general hospital, and State Bank of Hyderabad. Reservoirs like Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar were also built to prevent floods.
The Impeding Power
The Nizam continue to rule even after India became independent. His power had weakened though. With the Indian army invading and annexing Hyderabad into the entire country back then, the Nizam surrendered.
After which he stayed in the King Kothi Palace. And, used to issue firmans on topics that were feeble and unimportant in the Nizam gazette.
He passed away on 24 February 1967. The Indian state declared a day of mourning day on 25 February 1967. The national flag was flown at half-mast on all government buildings in the state on that day when he was buried.
Where is the money of World’s richest person now?
It is said that a few days before India’s independence he had deposited an amount of 1 million euros in an account at Westminster Bank in London.
This money went untouched. And remained there for over 71 years which was valued at rupees 35 million euros in 2019.
Later, a British judge asked the Nizam’s descendants to collect the money.
The Nizam was loved by his people for his character, persona, vision, and the reforms he brought in for the welfare of the state. He is one of the rulers who was rich in his character, wealth, and also the love he received from his subjects.