Sultan Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur conquered Banganapalle from Raja Nanda Chakravathy ca. 1601. He conferred the command of the fort and surrounding districts on his victorious general, Siddhu Sumbal, who held them until 1665. Muhammad Beg Khan-e Rosebahani succeeded him as commander of the fort and perpetual fiefholder of the surrounding jagir. He died without natural male heirs, leaving his possessions to his grandson or adopted son and namesake, Muhammad Beg Khan Najm-i-Sani, entitled Faiz 'Ali Khan Bahadur. The latter secured confirmation of his rights following the Mughal conquest of Bijapur, through the intervention of his maternal uncle Mubariz Khan, the Mughal Viceroy of the Deccan.

The family of Faiz Ali Khan Bahadur, along with those of the Nawabs of Cambay and of Masulipatam, descend from Amir Yawar Ahmad Khan Najm-i-Sani, sometime vicegerent under Shah Ismail Safawi of Persia. They migrated to India during the reign of Emperor Akbar, married into the Indian Mughal aristocracy and rose to high military commands. Faiz Ali and his elder brother Fazl Ali were military officers under the Bijapur Sultans and transferred their allegiance to the Mughals after their conquest of the Deccan. Fazl Ali received Chenchelimala in fief, at about the same time as his brother had received Banganapalle. On his death, Fazl 'Ali left his jagir to his younger brother.

The ruling family of Banganapalle trace their descent from Sayyid Muhammad Khan Rizvi, sometime Grand Vizier to Shah Abbas II of Persia. Tahir 'Ali, his younger son is said to have been forced to leave Persia due to the jealousy of his elder brother. He entered Bijapur as a faqir where he was taken into the service of a Minister to Adil Shah. He married one of the Kings daughters and rose in prominence. Tahir was murdered by his brothers-in-law, forcing his widow to flee into the Carnatic with her two orphaned sons. The younger son, Sayyid Muhammad Khan Naqdi, became a mansabdar under Sadu'llah Khan. He married the granddaughter of Faiz Ali Khan, by whom he left two sons. The elder of the two, Husain 'Ali, inherited Banganapalle on the death of his childless maternal uncle, Fazl 'Ali Khan. The younger brother, Asad 'Ali, inherited Chenchelimala in jagir.

Husain 'Ali Khan reigned during the ascendancy of Hyder 'Ali, and was forced into an uneasy compromise by which he became a senior military officer in his service. At his death in 1783, his minor eldest son, Ghulam Muhammad 'Ali, succeeded under the guardianship of his uncle. Within a year both fell foul of Tipu Sultan, and fled with the rest of their family to Hyderabad. Uncle and nephews returned in 1789, defeated Tipu's forces and resumed control. Shortly afterwards, Asad 'Ali Khan gave his daughter in marriage to his nephew and bestowed his as dowry. Thereafter, Chenchelimala has formed part of the Banganapalle state.

Ghulam Muhammad 'Ali, enjoyed a long reign, but becoming wary of governing his small state, abdicated his rights in favour of his eldest son, Husain 'Ali II in 1822. The latter, however, proved to be a poor financial manager and began accumulating large debts. Several attempts by the government to introduce reforms proved fruitless, until exasperation resulted in his deposition in 1832. The government annexed Banganapalle to the Madras presidency and the Nawab retired to Hyderabad on a pension.

Financial and administrative reforms having restored the state to solvency, the Governor of Madras-in-Council decided to return Banganapalle to the former Nawab in 1848. He died without male heirs, before the government issued orders for the transfer. Consequently, the act of restoration was effected in favour of his elder son-in-law and nephew, Ghulam Muhammad 'Ali. The latter also died without male heirs in 1868, succeeded in turn by his son-in-law and nephew.

Sayyid Fath-i-'Ali Khan proved to be a model ruler during the early years of his reign, receiving many honours during his lifetime. Alas, financial mismanagement during his latter years reduced the state once more to the brink of insolvency. Therefore, the government imposed an administrator only a few months before his death in 1905.

Sayyid Ghulam Muhammad 'Ali Khan III succeeded his father as a minor in 1905, but was invested with full ruling powers three years later, after the finances and administration had been reformed. His reign saw momentous changes and was, by most accounts, stable and effective. He died in 1922 leaving his little state to his eldest son, Mir Fazl 'Ali Khan III.

Within a few years of Mir Fazl 'Ali Khan III succession, the state was back in pecuniary embarrassment. Several attempts at persuading the Nawab to curb his expenditure failed. Drought and the world economic depression worsened the financial crisis, eventually prompting the government to establish yet another period of administration. This too failed to achieve its effects as the Nawab continued to exercise considerable power within the state and to hamper the efforts of the administrator. The government eventually ordered him to reside outside the state in 1939. These orders being rescinded and the Nawab permitted to resume charge shortly before independence, so that he could exercise his sovereignty in making an empty choice to join India or Pakistan in 1947. Within a year, the old Nawab was succeeded by his only son, Nawab Mir Ghulam 'Ali Khan. The latter appeared on the national stage very briefly in 1970 to challenge the government of Indira Gandhi when she first attempted to de-recognise the princes. He won his battle when the Supreme Court decided that the President's action as void in law. However, she introduced new legislation following her subsequent election victory which nullified the courts decision a year later.


Fort over two crossed lancers all or, with vert swallow tailed flags attached to the lances, on which are or swords points towards the lance, tassels from the top of each lance. Below, a stylised scroll above the motto.
Crest: cap below a star and crescent, all or. Supporters: Cheval rampant, gules and or. Motto: "Magna est veritas et praevalebit" or on a riband vert. Lambrequins: Or.

6'3"x9' rectangular horizontal bicolour of crimson over brown, in the centre, the state arms in colour.

The ruling prince: Nawab Mir* (personal name) Khan Bahadur, Nawab of Banganapalle, with the style of His Highness.
The principal consort of the ruling prince: Nawab (personal name) Begum Sahiba, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Nawabzada Mir* (personal name) Khan Bahadur, Rais Pasha (i.e. Heir Apparent).
The younger sons of the ruling prince: Sahibzada Mir* (personal name) Khan Bahadur.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Sahibzadi (personal name) Begum.
The other male descendants of the ruling prince, in the male line: Sahibzada Mir* (personal name) Khan.
The other female descendants of the ruling prince, in the male line: Sahibzadi (personal name) Begum.

*The prefix "Mir" is a substitute for "Sayyid", the two titles being interchangeable amongst noble families in India, and now also preferred by members of this family.

None known:

Male primogeniture, or nomination by the reigning Nawab on the failure if male issue.

R. Cellammal. H.H. Nawab of Banganapalli and his Dewan, Madras, 1916.
Chiefs and Leading Families in the Madras Presidency, First Edition,
Madras Govt. Press, 1915.
Narahari Gopalakristnamah Chetty. A Manual of the Kurnool District in the Presidency of Madras. Government Press, Madras, 1886.
The Chronology of Modern Hyderabad 1720-1890. The Central Records Office, Hyderabad Government, Hyderabad, 1954.
History of the Ruling Princes, Chiefs and Leading Personages in the Madras States, Govt. of India Press, New Delhi, 1941.
Gordon Mackenzie. A Manual of the Kistna District in the Presidency of Madras, compiled for the Government of Madras. Lawrence Asylum Press, Madras, 1883.
K. Krishnaswamy Mudiraj (comp.). Pictorial Hyderabad. Vols. I and II. Chandrakanth Press, Hyderabad, Deccan, 1929-1934.
"H.H. Nawab of Banganapalle and his Dewan by An Admirer". Privately published, Madras, 1916.
"Papers Relating to Banganapalle State 1907". India Office Library [W. 5258], Oriental & India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.
A. Vadivelu. The Aristocracy of Southern India. A Loyal Welcome Gift to His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught in memory of His Royal Highness' visit to India. Vest and Co., Madras, 1903.
A. Vadivelu. The Aristocracy of Southern India. Volume II. A Loyal Welcome Gift to their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales as a memento of their visit to India in 1906. Vest and Co., Madras, 1908.

Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
Aelia Sultana.
Copyright© Christopher Buyers
Copyright© Christopher Buyers

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