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One Hundred, Sixty Six Years of Osmania Medical College  (1846-2013)


The Hyderabad Medical School which came into existence in 1846 A.D. was the fore-runner of Osmania Medical College. The medium of instruction was Urdu ,the degree was Hakeem. Last two decades of nineteenth century was the glorious period of this school. Seventh and the last Nizam of Hyderabad Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan established Osmania University in 1919 A.D. and in the following year the Hyderabad Medical College. In 1957 A.D. Hyderabad became the Capital of enlarged Andhra Pradesh. Tremendous zeal and enthusiasm was evident to achieve all round progress in medical education.

Medical Education, Research and health care of the people are vastly improved by the presence of medical college and teaching hospital in any area and in an atmosphere of medical research. This is true of Hyderabad also.


The actual origin of medical education in Hyderabad dates back as far as 1595, when Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah, the 5th King of Gloconda had founded a general hospital _‘Darush-Shifa’ (House of cure) together with an attached medical school, where the Unani system of medicine was taught and practiced. The building can be seen even today on the southern bank of river Musi, behind the building of Salarjung Museum.

 A Medical School at Bolarum

A medical school was started at Bolarum in about 1836 or 1839 by Assistant Surgeon Thomas Key and Simon Young, the staff Surgeon of the Hyderabad Contingent, for training of natives of Deccan, as medical subordinates for service in the Hyderabad contingent. According to the records of the Nizams’s Army, Surgeon Key was in 1840, Medical Store Keeper and Superindent  of the Medical School at Bolarum. This school was closed from 1st May, 1846.

This measure was severely criticised in the local press. The resident explained that, he abolished the Bolarum school, merely to establish another, with wider aims. Thus, the Resident obtained the sanction of the Nizam to establish a medical school at the Residency, for teaching European Medicine to native youths of Deccan, through the medium of Urdu. Dr. Maclean was appointed Superintendent and teacher of the school with handsome extra allowance of five hundred rupees per month as his special pay for this work. He took a house of Mr. Ogilvie based on monthly rent of Rs.30/- at Gunfoundry, engaged a clerk Mir Ameer Ali, a translator Mr. Murrey and two peons. This was the first successful vernacular medium medical school, established in India in the early part of the year 1846. The school was shifted later to the new premises in the compound of Residency Hospital and it was enlarged in 1848 to provide for wider opportunity in clinical instructions. Manuscript records pertaining to this event are preserved in National Archives, Delhi, extract of which is as under :

“It is proposed that the school shall be held in a house which Dr. Maclean has hired for this purpose from Mr. Ogilvie, situated about three quarter of a mile from the residency on the public road to Secunderabad and the young man who feel disposed to attend may do so at 10 O’clock on the 1st proximo, when Dr. Maclean will be in readiness to receive them”.

True Translation,


Assistant Resident.

Hyderabad Medical School

The story behind the opening of the Hyderabad Medical School is that, the Fourth Nizam of Hyderabad Nawab Nasir-ud-Dawlah fell ill (probably he was suffering with Diabetes) in 1842 / 43 A.D. and he did not recover for quite sometime under the treatment of Unani Hakeems, as all the people in Hyderabad had belief in Unani Medicine and no one practiced Allopathic Medicine here before 1846 A.D.

Mr.Fraser the then British Resident in Hyderabad recommended treatment of the ailing Nizam by the residency surgeon Dr. William Campbell Maclean. He treated the Nizam by adjustment in his daily diet, without any medicine, as the Nizam wanted that, he must be cured without having to eat or drink any Allopathic Drug. The King followed the diet schedule as prescribed by Dr. Maclean and recovered within a period of three months. The western system of medicine, thus appears to have gone high in his estimate and so, he ordered for the establishment of the medical school in Hyderabad.

But, for one year no student came forward. The matter was reported to the Nizam, then as per his order ten candidates were sent to the school by Shamsul Umra Bahadur on Monday, 27th Ramadan, 1262 A.H (1847 A.D.)

The students of the first batch trained by Dr. Maclean appeared in 1852-53, for a final examination by a committee of three medical officers. The standard adopted was a high one. Following ten were declared qualified and received official diplomas from the institute:

1.         Mohammed Ashraf

2.         Henry Peacock

3.         Mohammad Baquer Ali

4.         Faizullah Khan

5.         Syed Omer

6.         Ain Khan

7.         Ghulam Jeelani

8.         Khawja Ashraf

9.         Mohammad Yakoob

10.       Peer Khan

In 1854, the following seven candidates were declared qualified :

1.         Lutf-e-Ali

2.         Mirza Ali

3.         Mohammad Maulana Sahab

4.         Mohammad Vazir Ali

5.         Shamsuddin

6.         Faqueer Sahab

7.         Mohammad Raza

These well trained medical men were employed as Taluka Surgeons with a salary of Rs.30/- per month. Some of them established themselves as private practitioners in the city.3

It was a successful venture and much of the success was due to Dr. Maclean’s personality, who excelled as a teacher and lecturer. He threw his heart in the development of the school. He had to teach, translate, encourage, conciliate. Besides this there were no textbooks, more over the preliminary education acquired by the lads, not a kind to give a teacher  very elevated platform of general knowledge, on which to raise the structure of medical sciences.

A greatest object kept steadily in view by Dr. Maclean, consisted in impressing upon his pupils a sense of the high and honorable character of the medical profession, and in endeavoring to induce them to act always upon principles of rectitude and honesty. He endeavoring to raise their moral tone to as high a level as he could, and he inculcated the values of manly, honest and truthful conduct in all their intercourse, whether professional or private, with those around them. When this man of integrity, character and intellect left Hyderabad for England due to his ill health, his old student literally fell upon his neck, clung to him weeping bitterly.

Assistant Surgeon Dr. George Smith succeeded Dr. Maclean in December 1854 and started session on 5th February 1855 A.D. to the junior batch of students who had been in the school for a short time. Fresh batch of students admitted. He followed the printed syllabus, but subjects of physiology and chemistry were added in the syllabus. He himself taught Anatomy, physiology, surgery, theoretical and practical medicine and midwifery , disease of the eye, operative surgery, while Mr. Murrey instructed in Materia Medica, Bandaging and in testing for poisons. The entire course and syllabus was mastered in four sessions. Dr. Smith followed the footsteps of Dr. Maclean and raised the reputation of the school by training a large number of very able and successful Hakeems (Doctors). The school was conducted in the rooms of the Residency Hospital opposite to Residency Surgeon’s house.

Risala-e-Tibabat (Hyderabad Medical Journal)

For keeping up a connection between the school and the passed Hakeems (Doctors) and for stimulating them for study and observation, led to the publication of a Medical Journal in Urdu., which was started by Dr. Smith in 1855. Copies of the Hyderabad Medical Journal were regularly sent to each Hakeem (Doctor) and given to each student, while 50 copies of each issue were forwarded to the Governments of Calcutta, Madras and Agra and 20 to the Government of Bombay. The issue was numbering 300 copies of which, the expenses of 100 copies were borne by the Prime Minister Nawab Salarjung Bahadur who also granted the use of his Lithographic press and that of the remaining 200 copies was defrayed by the subscriptions of the respective Governments as named above. The young Hakeems (Doctors) were encouraged to contribute articles

.Sometime in 1861, Dr. Smith left Hyderabad and Dr. Fleming took charge as residency surgeon, and Superintendent of the school. Dr. Johnson was appointed as the second teacher of the Medical School and assistant to Dr. Fleming. During Dr. Fleming’s time 33 students got admission into the school. But many students discontinued of their own will or were expelled due to poor progress in the class. Encouragement was given to the study of English by awarding stipened of Rs.4/- per month, to students who were educated in English, in the school of Darul-Uloom, before admission into the Medical School. In 1862, another examination was held by a committee, of which the Chairman was Dr. Forbes, General doctor of Secunderabad and the members were Dr. Sanderson, of Alwal and Dr. Martin of Secunderabad.

It was about this time that Sir Salarjung thought of establishing a hospital in the city, for the benefit of the sick, poor, the wounded and also to afford better facilities to medical students to acquire wide experience of patients and diseases. Though the school has been in existence for about two decades, it was not on a sound footing as there was no regular medical service, to absorb the students passing the qualifying examinations. So in 1886, Sir Salarjung created a Medical Department and put it under the control of an officer, who at the same time occupied the post of the superintendent of the medical school. The cadre and pay of medical service was also established on regular system and the districts. There were seven Government physicians in the city.

Afzalgunj Hospital

Sir Salarjung —I, Nawab Turab Ali Khan Mukhtar-il-Mulk Bahadur established a public hospital on the northern bank of river Musi. When this was planned, built and occupied in 1866, it was named after the then ruler Afzal-ud-Daulah and came to be known as Afzalgunj Hospital. It was Dr. Fleming, who labored hard to plan and build this hospital according to the wishes and orders of the Sir Salarjung. It was also teaching hospital, in addition to already existing British Residency Hospital (Presently Sultan Bazar Hospital).

First Salarjung the Minister took great interest in the institution. Much of the success of the medical school was due to the sustained personal interest taken in it by him and much also to the thoughtful and earnest advice of successive superintendent, especially Dr. Maclean and Dr. George Smith. Salarjung took the initiative for the provision of medicine and instruments in the medical school. He instituted awards for special merit and sanctioned the bi-monthly issue of medical periodical.

In 1866/67, Dr. Fleming was succeeded by Dr. Pamberton  whose promising career was cut short soon after he took charge of the new hospital at Afzalgunj, and started to give excellent training to the staff and the students. Dr. Mohammad Vazir was appointed as Resident surgeon of Afzalgunj Hospital. Dr. Wyndowe, who succeeded  Dr. Pamberton as Resident Surgeon and Superintendent of the school and hospital in 1867, was in that post for 15 years and effected some improvement in the hospital and the school. During Dr. Wyndowe’s absence on furlough on two occasions, Dr. Lawrie acted as superintendent of the medical school and chief of the hospital. Dr. T. Beamount, who came after Dr. Wyndowe in 1881/82 left the station on furlough after three years, and was succeeded by Dr. Edward Lawrie in 1884/85 as Residency surgeon who put Hyderabad on the medical map. He worked with a rare spirit of service to the poor patients in the hospital for whose benefit he later endowed a fund, out of which milk and other articles of food were supplied to the needy patients. It was during his time many momentous changes occurred in the school, English was adopted as the medium of instruction in place of Urdu.

The old Board of Examination from Secunderabad was replaced by the Board of Examiners of Madras Medical College, 1889-90. The staff was augmented and the school commenced training for the following three grades of Medical Personnel.

1.         Hakeems with a course of 7 years corresponding to the superior grade

2.         Dressers with a course of 5 years forming a lower grade

3.         Berar pupils intended for service in the military department of Berar under the resident.

Hyderabad Chloroform Commission

Dr. Lawrie attained international fame on account of his letters, articles and reports in British Journals with regard to the controversy relating to the methods and dangers of Chloroform administration, and describing his experiments upon dogs on the proper administration of chloroform. On his application the Nizam’s Government appointed the first commission in 1888 consisting of Surgeons P. Hehir as president, Mr. J.A. Kelly and Mr. A. Chamarette, as members.

As a result of experiments the commission came to the conclusion _‘that chloroform may be given to dogs by inhalation with perfect safety, and without any fear of accidental death, if only the respiration, and nothing but the respiration, is carefully attended to through out’. The report of the commission was adversely criticized by the leading Medical Journals, but Lawrie’s faith in the correctness of his master, Syme’s teaching that chloroform can be used judiciously so as to do good without the risk of evil, and the importance of the cause he upheld was so great that at his request the Nizam’s Government made an offer to the ‘Lancet’ to meet all expenses for having the work repeated and invited that journal to send a scientist of high standing whose opinion would be accepted by the medical profession generally.

The offer was accepted and the second commission (usually referred to as the Hyderabad Chloroform Commission) was constituted as follows in 1889.

Surgeon Major E. Lawrie, President

Dr. T. Lauder Brunton, Member (from _‘Lancet’)

Surgeon Major Gerald Bomford, Member

Dr. Rustomji, Member.

The members of the first commission were also associated with the second commission. A very large number of experiments were performed on various species of animals under a variety of conditions.

The report of this commission appeared in the Lancet of January 18, 1890, and the final report of the Chloroform Commission was printed in 1891.

Dr. Lawrie visited to Britain also with two of his students from Hyderabad Medical School to demonstrate to the British medical scientists in England. The safer method of administration, called _‘Hyderabad Chloroform Technique’ practiced by him at Hyderabad, by _‘Hyderabad Chloroform Cap’. The demonstration took place on 25th May, 1894 A.D. The student who actually administrated anesthesia was Dr. (Hakeem) Mohammad Abdul Ghani. The surgeon who performed an appendectomy and Nephrectomy operation was Dr. (Later Sir) Fredrick Treve, the head of the department of surgery, and he was satisfied by the conduct of the anesthesia. This enhanced the prestige of the medical school at Hyderabad and put it on the medical map.

On the other hand, the discovery of the life cycle of Malaria parasite by Ronald Ross also took place at Hyderabad in 1897. All these achievements made medical profession of Hyderabad known to all the medical world for its enquiring mind and research.

It will thus be seen that, not with standing the interest shown by the state in the school, and the great inducements held out to the students in the shape of stipends, prizes and appointments, the early history of the institution was rather a checkered one, with the lapse of time and the influence of qualified men turned out by the school, the prejudice against the Western System of Medicine became less marked while the introduction of English as the medium of instruction rendered the teaching more direct and therefore more interesting with the result that the number of students began to steadily increase.

By the end of the 19th century, the Hyderabad Medical School, had developed into a very illustrious  institution, with adequate staff and eminent teachers. The school was then training natives of the state for service as Hakeems in the Nizam’s dominion and hospital hospital assistants in Barer service. Examination for the diploma was held by special arrangements with the Board of the Madras medical college and the standard was the same as that of the L.M & S., Degree of the Madras University. In the last decade of 19th century, Women’s (Zenana) section under the supervision of a lady doctor was also opened in Afzalgunj hospital and admission was given to women students also to study medicine, and especially midwifery.

The old classification of categories of students of the school

1.         Hakeems,

2.         Hakeems (Female)

3.         Hakeems (Private)

4.         Hakeems (Female Private)

5.         Dressers

6.         Barar pupils and

7.         Private pupils, was changed into following more acceptable terms :

1.         Assistant Surgeons Class

2.         Hospital Assistant Class

3.         Sub-Assistant Surgeons Class

By 1898, there were 100 students of various categories. As there was a Plague epidemic in the state, several students were put on plague duty and therefore there was no official examination in 1898.

Alterations and additions were made to the buildings of the school in the residency (Sultan Bazar) Hospital providing for lecture halls, chemical laboratories and anatomy dissection hall and pathology lab and postmortem room. There were improvements in the curriculum and new addition to the staff. Scholarships were specially provided to encourage women students to take up study of medicine. The school had produced more than 100 male doctors called Hakeems and a few women doctors by the end of the century, who served in the hospitals and civil dispensaries in the city and in the districts and other parts of   state and also took part in the fight against the epidemic of Cholera, Plague and Smallpox all over the state.

Dr. Lawrie retired in May 1901 after a long and glorious record as a Residency Surgeon, as Director of Medical Deparment of Nizam, and as Superintendent of the Hyderabad Medical School. Dr. Gimlette took charge of the school as principal and lecturer in surgery and ophthalmology in 1901. As principal he complained that students were reluctant to join the school. Few young men of good social standing were attached to the school as there were only limited number of appointments. The most urgent necessity of the school was affiliation to a university because if a university degree was awarded, a large number of students may be coming forward to join the school. Some improvements were made to the pathological laboratory which was fitted with appliances. The hospital staff began to send pathological specimens for examination and report. There were also changes in the examination Board. The examinations were conducted by the Bombay Medical Board, instead of by Madras Medical Board.

During the first decade of the 20th century, many old teachers of the school retired and new medical officers were appointed. Some new posts of lecturers were created and filled up by former students of the school who has subsequently graduated from Edinburgh University. A part of the Afzalgunj hospital was destroyed by the great flood in river Musi in 1908. After the retirement of Dr. Gimlette in 1908 the following were the successive principals of the Hyderabad Medical School.

Dr. Shorep                   – 1908 – 1908

Dr. Hill                        – 1908 – 1909

Dr. Lumsden               – 1090 – 1913

Dr. Abdul Ghani         – 1913 – 1914

Dr. Brake Brokmen     – 1914 – 1917

Dr. Lankester              – 1917 – 1920

In the 1917-1918 the school was inspected by social committee of the Madras medical council, as a result of its report diploma of the school was reorganized by Madras and Bombay states, for purpose of medical registration. The medical school also secured affiliation of the college of physicians and surgeons of Bombay and 9 students passed the final L.C.P.S. examination of Bombay. In 1922 the school was shifted from Sultan Bazar to a rented building at Khairatabad.

During the third decade of the 20th century, when Dr. Lankester went on leave and retired, Nawab Khadive Jung took charge as Principal. He was succeeded by Col.B.J.Singh, in 1920 who was given the assistance of a secretary Dr. Farhat Ali.

School converted into a college

Fasli 1330 (October 1920 / 21) was the end of an old era and the beginning of a new one in the history of the medical school. In this year, the Hyderabad Medical School was converted into a college by a Firman of the Seventh Nizam and designated as the Osmania Medical College.

The students who were admitted from the year 1920-21 were after a final examination awarded the diploma of L.M. & S. instead of diploma of Assistant Surgeon and L.M.P. instead of sub-assistant surgeon. After the retirement of Dr. B. J. Singh in 1923, Dr. Khaja Mohiuddin was the principal of the college from 1924-1926.

College taken over by Osmania University

In Fasli 1335 i.e. October 1925-26, the syndicate and the University  Council decided to take over the college from the Government by making certain recommendations. The faculty of medicine was constituted with 15 members.

In the next Fasli 1336 (Oct. 1926-27) the college was transferred to the University. The 1st MBBS class was opened with Urdu as medium of instruction in place of English. Major Farhat Ali was appointed as Principal in 1926. 19 students were admitted in the 1st year class. The principal drew attention of the University to the urgent necessity of providing separate building for the institution and the provision of lecture theatres, laboratories, museums and play grounds.

The construction of the Osmania General Hospital was completed and wards of the Afzalgunj hospital were transferred to the new palatial building in 1926. In the course of the next two years there were additions in the staff. Later, to provide sufficient  accommodation for the college, the entire building of the old Afzalgunj hospital was made available for the use of the college. The school had grown into a college, and affiliated to the University after 80 years of struggle, hard work and creditable achievements of successive superintendents, principals and members of the staff.

Recognition by Royal College of Surgeons of England for primary F.R.C.S. and recognition of Indian Army Medical Department for admission to the commissioned rank were received in 1941. After Hyderabad state becoming the part of the Indian Union in 1948, the medium of instruction was changed once again from Urdu to English.

The Indian Medical Council recognized the medical degree of the Osmania University, from 1951. Government of Hyderabad took the administration control of the Medical college from the University in 1952 and an officer was appointed as head of the college and the hospital. In 1953 M.B.B.S. degree of Osmania University was recognized by the Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Punjab Universities for Post graduate studies.

In 1954 Postgraduate studies were started in Osmania Medical College under Osmania University and the students were admitted for MD (General Medicine) & M.S. (General Surgery) courses. The number of admissions to the college gradually increased from 50 to 80 and then to 100. Postgraduate course in several other disciplines of medicine were also inaugurated in 1958 and super specialty courses between 1971-1978.

Finally, the problem of accommodation was solved by laying foundation stone for the new building of the Osmania Medical College in Residency compound, by the then Chief Minister Dr. B. Ramakrishna Rao, in October 1956, and inauguration of the new building of Osmania Medical College in 1962 by the then President of India Dr. S. Radhakrishnan.

The college admits 200 undergraduates, 162 postgraduates and 14 students for superspeciality every year. The major hospital affiliated to it is the Osmania General Hospital. Besides, this, the college also has several other affiliated hospitals where undergraduate and postgraduate training is impaired. Osmania Medical College thus probably has the largest affiliated be strength for clinical training of its undergraduates amongst all medical colleges in India. The affiliated hospitals are listed below with their bed strength in parentheses.

1.         Osmania General Hospital (1200) formerly known as Afzalgunj Dawakhana.

2.         Government Maternity Hospital Petlaburj (462) formerly known as Victoria Zenana hospital.

3.         Niloufer Hospital for women and children (500) also know as Institute of Paediatrics.

4.         Mehdi Nawaz Jung Cancer Hospital (250).

5.         Sarojinidevi Eye Hospital (550).

6.         A.P. Chest Hospital (670)

7.         Quarantine Hospital (400) also known as the Institute of Tropical Medicine and popularly called Fever Hospital

8.         Government ENT Hospital (200)

9.         Hospital for Mental Diseases (600) also known as Institute of Mental Health

10.       Sultan Bazar Hospital for Women (160) formerly known as the British Residency Hospital.

The college has a rural health center also at Patancheru (8 beds) in Medak district set in the sylvan environs of the former Nizam’s summer palace.

The humble medical school, a joint endeavour of the Asifjahi dynasty and the British Government has become after a period of 125 years a mighty institute of Medical Sciences, in the service of the independent India.

Osmania General Hospital

This landmark of Hyderabad merits an independent chronicling of its history. It can be divided into three phases.

1.         Establishment of Darush-shifa

2.         Construction of the Afzalgunj Hospital, and

3.         Construction of the present Osmania General Hospital

The present magnificent high-domed building of the Osmania General Hospital was built in 1925 by Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh and last Nizam of the Asafjahi dynasty with an initial bed strength of 450. The hospital is situated over an area of 27 acres on the bank of the river Musi, with the high domed splendour of the state High Court on the opposite bank providing a captivating architectural harmony.

At the end of second world war, the central military hospital was released for civilian needs and therefore the first hospital devoted to specialities was established to relieve the congestion at Osmania General Hospital. This is the present Sarojinidevi Hospital for eye diseases. This experiment was successful and so a number of other hospitals of specialties, such as Niloufer hospital for children, M.N.J. Cancer hospital and E.N.T. hospital were established. Later the Government upgraded the Maternity Hospital, the hospital for chest diseases, Mental Hospital and Fever Hospital etc. These measures helped considerably, to relieve congestion at the Osmania General Hospital and in early diagnosis and institutionalized treatment and advancement of various specialties.

The state dental college and also the nursing college are located in the premises of the hospital. Now the bed strength of the hospital totals 4897, with  free of cost treatment  for patients in the general wards and normal fee charged for the paying wards. In the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad more patients are attended to each year in this hospital than all other hospitals combined.

Later many talented doctors from here went to U.S.A, Canada, U.K. etc. under various training programmes. Similarly costly equipments were procured with the financial assistance of agencies like W.H.O., UNICEF, Rockefeller foundation, T.C.M. (U.S.A.I.D) Nuffield Foundation, CARE etc.

History of Medicine 

This review cannot be completed without mentioning about the Department of History of Medicine now named as Indian Institute of History of Medicine, which has been established by the pioneering efforts of Dr. D.V. Subba Reddy, and which is functioning in Osmania Medical College since 1957 with a unique museum and a rich library and has contributed a great deal to the awareness of historical perspectives in the field of medical sciences.

There is no doubt that Osmania Medical College will march forward with its head held high. Its glorious history of 166 years, will inspire many generations of medical student of the institute for many years in future.

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