Hydarabad, 25 January 1893

Thick fog covered the city and its surroundings when we drove after 6 o’clock in the morning in a four horse mail coach to the parade ground of Sikandarabad on which a grand parade of the whole garrison of Sikandarabad and Bolaram was planned to happen. In time the sun split the fog and we enjoyed the view on the large pond, the mountain ranges and the suburbs of Hyderabad during the ride.

During our arrival to the parade ground, a battery fired the salute of 21 cannon shots. Then I and my entourage mounted horses. The troop commander, Colonel H. S. Elton, rode towards me, stopped 40 paces away and lowered his sable, which made all troops perform a salute as well and the music bands play our anthem. I rode to the right flank and inspected that front. The first unit was a battery of English mounted artillery, 88 men, 94 horses and 6 guns, then followed the complete 21st Hussars regiment, 4 squadron of 442 riders in total, at its side a regiment of Madras Uhlans, 410 riders, native regular cavalry, beautiful dark-skinned people many of which with martial bearded faces. The uniform consists of pike gray frock coats, dark-blue trousers and very practical yellow lace-up boots, the head is covered with a tall blue turban and as weapons the riders carry a short lance, a carbine attached to a long fixture on the saddle and some kind of Turkish scimitar. The horses, partly of native partly of Persian stock are fine but smaller than those of our hussars. Then followed the 4th Uhlans regiment of the Hyderabad contingent with 347 riders, composed also out of natives but officered by Englishmen. The cut of the uniforms is the same as that of the Madras Uhlans, only the color is dark-blue with brick-red lapels and a turban of the same color. The three cavalry regiments and the mounted battery constitute the 21st brigade which was followed by the artillery brigade consisting of two English field batteries with six guns each, a native battery of the Hyderabad contingent with four guns and the elephant battery with 6 guns.

Upon the artillery followed two infantry brigades whose first was composed of the 2nd English Suffolk regiment of 840 men with its well known red coats, white helmets and white straps. the 15th Madras infantry regiment of 588 men, composed of natives, with  madder coats, black lapels and black baggy pants. Finally the 2nd regiment of the Hyderabad contingent of 515 men, dark-green with tall turbans. The last two regiments were equipped with Henry Martini rifles. The English regiment already was equipped with the new Lee Metford magazine rifles.

The second brigade is composed of the English 2nd Welsh regiment of 512 men, the Hyderabad volunteers, the 16th and 20th Madras infantry regiments with 511 and 319 men respectively, At the rear stood a company of sappers and miners of 147 men, a unit composed of men from the lowest caste of Madras. It has distinguished itself in all campaigns and expeditions by its bravery and endurance,  In almost every occasion, both in India and the Sudan, these sappers and miners have proved their valor and nearly every man is decorated with a medal or two. They wear scarlet coats with blue trousers, high black caps in the manner of the Parsi.

After the inspection of the front, the whole corps formed itself to march past in the same order in which the troops stood from the right flank. The artillery marched by battery, the cavalry with squadrons in line and the infantry in companies. The march was performed very precisely and all units, the native ones too, looked splendid and had excellent posture. The highlight of the cavalry was naturally the Hussars regiment but, apart from the horses of lesser quality, the native Uhlans regiments were not far behind the Hussars. Among the artillery it was the mounted artillery with its splendid appearance and its outstanding Australian horses that was notable. I was, however, most interested in something completely new for me, the elephant battery in which every one of the 40 pounder muzzle-loading guns was drawn by two elephants whose harness consisted of large leather blankets, iron chains and rope. On the head of each huge animal sat a guide. The animals marched in a nice and tight formation. The ammunition wagons are drawn by eight zebu oxen each which were conspicuous by their fast and apt movements. The infantry marched past twice more, first in battalion masses as it is common in Germany with shoulder arms and fixed bayonets, then in brigade masses, both brigades one behind the other. To see a brigade in such a compact formation creates quite an impression. The cavalry and the mounted battery then rode past at a trot and then at a very fast gallop which came close to full speed. The mounted battery and the 21st Hussars galloped past beautifully while the speed of the native regiments escalated nearly into a wild chase.

The Nizam who had arrived too late only appeared to the second part of the parade and did not seem very interested in the military spectacle.

A huge crowd, among them many English ladies and gentlemen, on horses and in large coaches attended the parade. At the end of the parade, upon my request, the elephant battery performed a few exercises. Its commander, Major Leach, deployed the battery, made it ready to fire and mount up again. The maneuvers were executed at fast speed as the elephants were very familiar with all the steps and even fell into a trot to arrive faster at the guns when it was time to mount them up. Only under enemy fire, the elephants can’t be used and have to be kept away from that zone as they can’t stand rifle fire and will run away.

The Nizam’s corpulent court photographer had convinced us to meet with me again to take some photographic pictures. Therefore we rode straight after the parade, escorted by a shouting  and crying crowd of natives to his studio. The untiring artist owns a beautiful house and seems to occupy an important position at the Nizam’s court, as he is always present and the Nizam often goes to him to have numerous pictures taken. The unavoidable necessity to serve at any moment as an object for a  photographer seems to be a highly contagious Indian plague.

After countless photographic takes, we could finally say good-bye to the Nizam and return to Bashir Bagh where a formal bazaar had been set up on the veranda as I had ordered some weapon dealers to present ancient Indian weapons. After much dealing and haggling, an Oriental custom that can not be avoided by any traveler, I bought a large number of the beautifully made and often fantastically decorated swords, daggers, pistols, shields as well as lances and added some very old mail shirts to my collection, among them one made with so called fish scales and another which had verses of the Koran inscribed in every ring.

For two o’clock, a dejeuner was announced at the British residency. The residency is a tall tasteless building with many endless halls enclosed by a wall and surrounded by a large park.

The resident, Mr. Trevor C. Plowden, a very nice and intelligent gentleman who seemed to be interested in everything and knew very much about my country had had the great misfortune to see his wife die of cholera just a few weeks ago, At the dejeuner almost all important persons from the English colony were present.

We had to wait nearly three quarters of an hour for the Nizam to appear. He finally came in his yellow gala carriage and excused himself deeply. Behind the gala carriage followed at some distance a completely enclosed smaller carriage which took about the form of our Viennese postal package wagons. My repeated questions were given the answer that within this vehicle are ladies from the harem as well as champaign cooled with ice. His Highness seems to be fond of women and wine, and could not abstain from them as embellishments of his life as the ominous wagon also accompanied the Nizam on our drive in the afternoon to Golkonda.

During the breakfast I was asked by a lady tedious questions about the musical events in Vienna, about Beethoven’s and Wagner’s music, about the opera about instrumental and vocal music. The lady was astonished to hear that I preferred entertaining music and especially love the waltz which is conquering the world.

The next number on today’s program was a visit of the fortress of Golkonda. On the drive there we passed through the suburbs of Hyderabad which are inhabited solely by natives as well as Indian Muslims and are in part  ruins and primitive. Next to houses with notably beautiful carvings stood clay huts or even only leaf covers under which whole families are living. Noteworthy is the great number of architecturally charming mosques with their lean minarets, their galleries and their stone linings. On the way to Golkona we passed more than a hundred mosques and viewed from the road thousands upon thousands of graves between the houses and the mosques. The graves are richly ornamented in various forms. The graves of famous fakirs worshipped by the people as well as those of saints are covered with precious blankets, flowers and small flags.

In front of us appeared the hill of the fortress and the gray building of the once strong but now half decayed Golkonda known since the 14th century and which used to be the capital of the kingdom of Kutab Schahi between 1512 and 1687. During the latter year it was conquered by the men of the Grand Mughal Aurengzeb and partly razed. An impressive view of the enclosed fortress partly situated on a dominant hill can be best seen from the river side where the Muti reaches the outer ring wall.

A giant gate made out of massive blocks leads into the city. The doors of the gate have been built out of massive plank as thick as a shoe-thick and are covered with long iron spikes whose purpose has been to safeguard the doors against the onrushing elephants which have been used for just this purpose in earlier wars and thus opening access to the fortress for the besiegers. In total the fortress has eight of these giant gates of which four are currently still used.  Their names are Fateh, Mekka, Dschamali and the just described Bandschara gate.

The history of construction of Golkonda can be divided into three periods. The oldest part, built it is said by the Raja of Warungul. is Balar hissar citadel on the top of the about 100 m high hill. Here once stood the king’s palace whose ruins are still there. To the second period belong that part of the city which leads from the citadel to the outer wall with its broad but half buried ditch of the lower fortress. A large number of decayed buildings, small palaces, mosques, schools and houses stand nearby. From the youngest period date the Eastern fortifications which continue almost up to the royal graves and have been built by the first ruler among the Nizams. The crenelated courtines of the main wall are proof of the strength of the fortress. The circumference of the main wal with its 87 bastions made out of granite blocks is about 48 km. Among the edges of the bastions lie beautiful but useless guns from the time of Kutab Schahis which have been spiked and demolished after the conquest of Golkonda by Aurengzeb.

Used only as a military depot and guarded by a single post, the whole fortress which once housed 10.000 humans is silent and bare. Taking the steep and raw 258 steps one reaches Golkonda’s, highest point, the citadel Balar hissar. Here one can enjoy the view from a terrace formed into casemates upon the land of Hyderabad with its gardens and towers, its reflecting ponds in the foreground, its nearby famous royal graves, the debris of the city and the walls,the glacis, ditches and bastions at the feet of the viewer. It is a dark field of ruins upon which we look down but one can still trace the individual lines of the fortress and its defenses, especially in the east, the newest part of the fortress where much has survived. Of the bastions, many are glued to the rock like swallow nests. Other fortifications too have incorporated the terrain into the granite blocks. The strong walls and the stone works executed with few technical help give testimony to the skill of the builders of centuries past.

The scenery is strange: as around Golkonda granite rocks rise up chaotically in a wild order as the legend has it Debris which the builder of the universe has left here after the construction of the mountains of the earth.

The majority of the royal graves has been destroyed during the siege of Golkonda by Aurengzeb, still the mausoleum of the kings of the Kutab Schahi dynasty offer a very fascinating picture with their minarets, glazed pillars, domes, terraces, their rich decorations. Sir Salar Dschang Bahadur, a recently deceased minister of the Nizam who had been well known for his excellent administration of the state of Hyderabad, had part of the graves restored with care and surrounded them with fruit trees and shade giving gardens. Notable among these graves is especially the mausoleum of Shah Mohammed Kuli Kutab (died 1625), the founder of the state of Hyderabad, which was rich in decoration and height (51 m)  and had a building with a 18 m high dome.

The Nizam took great pleasure to accompany us everywhere had mounted the citadel with us and proposed there to shoot with rifles on thrown bottles and clay balls whereas one shot with smoothbore balls. I had a hard time making a decision as the Nizam is well known as India’s best shooter and excels especially at shooting with smoothbore balls. Only after a long intervention by the gentlemen of my entourage I dared to enter the contest.

First, many bottles were set up 30 paces away and on their necks were places clay balls as large as small apples. The shooter was tasked to hit the balls without touching the bottle. The Nizam shot first but missed four clay balls. I followed and hit three out of four clay balls which made the Nizam’s entourage applaud and he personally offered loud congratulations. At the side of the bottles and balls intended for the match stood a further 16 bottles. Emboldened ,I dared to shot on all 16 balls one after the other. I managed to hit 15 of them which astonished the Nizam greatly. We then shot at bottles thrown into the air and achieved the same result. Each of us shot four times and hit a bottle every time. The same repeated itself with thrown clay balls.

Then followed the most difficult experiment, namely shooting rupees thrown in the air which are about the same size as our silver guilders. Eight shots were given to each shooter. The Nizam scored once, I had the special fortune to score three times even though I had up to now never had the opportunity nor the interest to perform such artistic deeds, so it was a real sporty endeavor to hit such small flying targets. The Nizam was a good sport to the mean game in which he was for the first time beaten and proposed to return home. I admit being proud like a lion internally.

We returned home under majestic moon shine whose lights illuminated the towers, mosques and graves magically, where after a short rest we received a gala dinner in Bashir Bagh palace by our host, minister Asman Dshah.

In an annex to the house, a wooden theater, stood the long table laid out for 150 persons on whose top I sat between the Nizam and an English lady. Here too the feast was arranged in oriental splendor but the large number of servants who came in with dishes in their hands advancing from the stage like an avalanche created a comical impression. The Nizam sat joyfully on his seat and smiling friendly he looked at the number of his guests, developing a phenomenal appetite at the same time, A Hindu music band provided the ear-shattering table music.


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