History Files

Far East Kingdoms

South Asia


Nawabs of Arcot
AD 1690 - Present Day

The Moghul emperor of India, Aurangzeb, established the nawabdom in Arcot in the south during a period in which the Marathas were beginning to challenge his control of areas of the sub-continent. The emperor made his general, Zulfikar Khan, the first nawab in 1690, midway through his long and successful reign.

The general was also known as Muhamed Ismail, and Itikhad Khan. He was the son of a Mughal courtier named Asad Khan and was born in 1657. He accompanied Aurangzeb to the Deccan and was instrumental in the capture of Raigad fort following the death of Maratha king Sambhaji, managing to capture the queen and her son, Prince Shahu, in the process. Then he besieged Jinji fort in Tamil Nadu (the second capital of the new Maratha king, Rajaram, although Rajaram managed to escape. The general was able to establish Mughal control of the south and was made governor of the Deccan-Carnatic region as his reward, being given the title of nawab.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

1690 - 1703

Zulfiqar Khan Nusrat Jang

Appointed nawab by Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb. Murdered.


Zulfiqar Khan supports the cause of Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb, and that of his son and grandson, Bahadur Shah I and Jahandar Shah, against the would-be puppet emperor, Farrukhsiyar. With the support of the two Sayid brothers, Farrukhsiyar has Zulfiqar Khan murdered. The nawab's second-in-command succeeds him to the title in Arcot. Unfortunately, he too becomes a victim of the Sayid brothers' success.

Arcot Palace
Zulfiqar Khan was granted the nawabship of Arcot by Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb, and the palace at Arcot provided his chief residence, shown here in a print from 1858

1703 - 1710

Daud Khan Panni

Zulfiqar Khan's second-in-command. Killed in battle.

1710 - 1731

Muhammed Sayyed

Also known as Sadatullah Khan, dewan of Daud Khan.


Muhammed Sayid succeeds Daud Khan in Arcot and changes his capital from Jinji to Arcot.


Moghul Emperor Rafi ul Darjat is briefly and unsuccessfully challenged by his uncle, Nikusiyar. He dies later in 1719, after enthroning his brother, Rafi ul Daulat on the throne. That emperor lasts just months. His place is filled by Muhammad Shah, another Sayid puppet who turns the tables on them, removing them in a coup (although Muhammed Sayyed appears to survive in Arcot).

1731 - 1740

Dost Ali

Nephew and adopted son. Died fighting the Marathas at Ambur.

1740 - 1742

Safdar Ali

Son. Murdered by his brother-in-law, Murtuza Ali.

1742 - 1744

Muhamed Sadaatullah II

Son. Murdered, and succeeded by his regent.

1744 - 1749

Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan

Former regent. Died in battle.


Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan maintains cordial relations with the British East India Company against the French (who support Chanda Sahib, another son-in-law of Dost Ali), and dies in battle fighting the French.

1749 - 1752

Chanda Sahib / Hussain Dost Khan

Son-in-law of Dost Ali. Defeated and imprisoned.

1749 - 1752

During his short reign, Chanda captures the throne of Madurai, and compels the Maratha king of Tanjore to cede Pondichery to the French. This prompts the main Maratha force under Raghuji Bhosale to attack and defeat Chanda Sahib, and he is subsequently imprisoned in the province of Nagpur.


Muhammed Ali Khan Walajah

Son of Anwaruddin. Temporarily deposed.


Chanda Sahib manages to purchase his freedom and, with French help, ousts Muhammed Ali. In turn, Muhammed Ali seeks the help of the British East India Company and ousts Chanda Sahib. Chanda Sahib flees, only to be captured by the Tanjore army, which beheads him.


Chanda Sahib / Hussain Dost Khan

Restored himself, but defeated by the EIC and killed by Marathas.

1752 - 1795

Muhammed Ali Khan Walajah

Restored by the EIC and remained their ally.

1795 - 1801

Ghulam Hussaini Umdat Ul Umara

Son. Experienced friction with the EIC.

1801 - 1819

Azim ud Daullah

Son. Compelled to hand over Carnatic region to EIC to administer.

1819 - 1825

Azam Jah


1825 - 1855

Ghulam Muhammed Ghouse Khan

Son. No male heir.

1855 - 1867

Ghulam Muhammed Ghouse Khan fails to produce a male heir so, upon his death, his Carnatic kingdom is annexed by the British East India Company. His regent and uncle (the brother of Azam Jah) is Azim Jah. Twelve years later he is granted the title 'Prince of Arcot' in compensation for the loss of the state.

1867 - 1874

Azim Jah

Uncle. First 'Prince of Arcot'.

1874 - 1879

Sir Zahir ud daulla Bahaddur


1879 - 1889

Intizamululk Muazaudaulla Bahadur

Younger brother.

1889 - 1903

Sir Muhamed Munawar Khan Bahadur


1903 - 1952

Sir Ghulam Muhd Ali Khan Bahaddur

Son. Last ruling 'Prince of Arcot'.


The dominion of India is formed on 15 August 1947 following the official handover of power by the British. Arcot is subsumed within the republic and its ruler left with just his title. He later serves as president of the All India Muslim League, and the South India Muslim League, and is a Muslim candidate for the Imperial Legislative Council.

1952 - 1969

Ghulam Mohiuddin Khan

Younger brother.

1969 - 1993

Ghulam Muhamed Abdul Khader


1993 - Present

Mohammed Abdul Ali

Son. Born 1951.

Mohammed Asif Ali

Son and heir.

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