More than 300 years ago, Zulfikar Ali Khan was summoned from Mecca by Emperor Aurangazeb in order to fight against the Marathas. In the 17th Century when the Marathas were holding sway in the Southern Carnatic from their stronghold at Gingee, Zulfikar Ali Khan came down and inflicted a crushing defeat on the ruler Rajaram. The delighted Mughal emperor made him the Nawab of the Carnatic under the suzerainty of the Nizam of Hyderabad and thus were sown the beginnings of the House of Arcot.
Arcot was brought under the control of the Colonial Government in 1801, annexed by the British in 1825 and the state extinguished in 1855. The dynasty continues as Princes of Arcot. The Prince of Arcot still holds the unique position in Indian politics of being the only member of a royal family who is recognized as a prince, his rank being that of a cabinet minister.
The rulers were:
Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Khan (1692-1703 A.D.)
Nawab Daud Khan (1703-1710 A.D.)
Nawab Muhammed Saadatullah Khan (I 1710-1732 A.D.)
Nawab Dost Ali Khan (1732-1740 (grand nephew), married and had issue. He died in 1740 A.D.)
Nawab Safdar Ali Khan
Nawab Safdar Ali Khan (1740-1742)
Nawab Muhammed Saadatullah Khan II
There were in all 13 Nawabs and the last Nawab regarded as a titular sovereign was Nawab Ghulam Muhammed Ghous Khan (1824-1855 A.D. born 1824, died 7th October 1855.) In his time Arcot was annexed and it became a princely state.
Arcot became a dependency of the British in its early years. By the treaty of 1801 with the British "the whole of civil and military government of Arcot was transferred forever to the English East India Company and the Nawab and his heirs were to preserve their title and dignity and to receive one fifth of the net revenues of the Country." When Muhammed Ghauz died without an issue, the East India Government decided to abolish the title of "Nawab". Lord Dalhousie the then Governor General of India stated, since the regular succession up to 1855 was "by grace of over lordship," it was to be terminated in 1855 by the application of the Doctrine of Lapse. In 1867 the claimant to the Nawabs was recognized as the Prince of Arcot and the first noble in the Madras Presidency. The Princes of Arcot who followed Nawab Ghulam Muhammed Ghous Khan were eight in number including the present one.
The present Nawab HH Nawab Muhammed Abdul Ali, 8th Prince of Arcot since 1993, was born on 9th August 1951. He was Sherriff of Chennai (then Madras) for two terms, from 1984-1985 and again from 1988-1989. He is recognised by the government as the 'First Nobleman' in the Muslim community of South India. He enjoys a place equivalent to that of state cabinet ministers and is officially recognized by the President of India as the Prince of Arcot. He is the founder secretary-general of Harmony India, (founded in 1990) an association to promote communal amity, secularism and National Foundation of Communal Harmony. The Prince is a patron of music, art and literature and his hobbies include photography, gardening and reading books. He married HH Sayeeda Begum and has two sons. Their palace in Arcot the Amir Mahal situated in the heart of Chennai, takes you back to history so old and intricate.