Was Hyderabad once known as Bhagyanagar? What centuries-old theories say

Was Hyderabad once known as Bhagyanagar? What centuries-old theories say

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Was Hyderabad once known as Bhagyanagar? What centuries-old theories say

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the recent BJP national executive in Hyderabad that it was in Bhagyanagar that Sardar Patel had coined the term “Ek Bharat”. 

PM Narendra Modi referring to Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar has once again brought the Telangana capital, or rather its name, in the spotlight with saffron supporters arguing that the city was originally called Bhagyanagar and opponents claiming that this was not the case.

While the issue fits in with BJP’s resolve to rename prominent cities known by Islamic names with ones more rooted in the Hindu ethos, it also serves to galvanise the cadre in Telangana which the party has identified as the second state in the south, after Karnataka, which is ripe for the picking.

There are different theories on how Hyderabad came to be known as such and all of them seem compelling, or outlandish, depending upon your worldview. The primary ones are as follows:

Derived from Bhagmati

The most famous theory, featuring a dash of romance, goes that Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah of the Qutub Shahi dynasty (1565-1612 CE) chanced upon a beautiful courtesan Bhagmati while on a horseback ride and fell head over heels in love with her.

On becoming the sultan after his father’s death, he married her and built a new city in her village which came to be known as Bhagnagar. Another string of the theory says Bhagmati embraced Islam upon her marriage and took the name Hyder Begum, and, hence, the name Hyderabad. Historians, however, don’t believe in this theory.

The city of ‘baghs’

Another theory says the rich of Golconda, tired of the filth and pestilence in the old city, built themselves large homes with expansive gardens across the river Musi.

In time, the area came to be known as Baghnagar (city of gardens).

When Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah decided to build a new city, he chose Baghnagar and renamed it Hyderabad (the city of Hyder).

Hyder is one of the names of Ali, the first imam of the Shias. This theory has many takers among historians and city planners.

The goddess Bhagyalakshmi

By the 1940s, with it becoming increasingly clear that independence from Britain was not far off, the Nizam doubled down on efforts to declare Hyderabad as an Islamic state and a separate entity from India.

The province was overwhelmingly Hindu with a tiny Muslim ruling class and this led to resentment and Hindu mobilisation.

As part of this build-up came the argument that Hyderabad was earlier known as Bhagyanagar (after the goddess Bhagyalakshmi) and the Hindus started referring to it as such.

The city was portrayed as one that needed to be reclaimed from Muslim rulers. After independence and the fall of the Asaf Jahi dynasty, the demand petered out till the BJP came visiting.

Modi’s call, KTR’s retort

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the recent BJP national executive in Hyderabad that it was in Bhagyanagar that Sardar Patel had coined the term “Ek Bharat”.

“PM Modi said that Hyderabad is Bhagyanagar which is significant for all of us. Sardar Patel kept the foundation of a unified India and now it’s BJP’s responsibility to carry it further,” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said quoting the PM.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi working president KT Rama Rao retorted to the demands by asking, “Why don’t you change Ahmedabad’s name to Adanibad first?”

Yogi’s demand in 2020

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath was the first prominent leader in recent times to bring up the Bhagyanagar demand.

Campaigning for the BJP ahead of the 2020 Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections, he had said, “Some people were asking me if Hyderabad can be renamed as Bhagyanagar. I said why not. I told them that we renamed Faizabad as Ayodhya and Allahabad as Prayagraj after BJP came into power in UP. Then why Hyderabad can’t be renamed as Bhagyanagar?”

On Sunday, Adityanath visited Charminar in Hyderabad and prayed at the Bhagyalakshmi temple. In 2020, home minister Amit Shah had visited Bhagyalakshmi temple as have a host of BJP leaders. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat too had paid a visit.

Source : TOI