From Persia to Pakistan, via Mysore

Zafar Hilaly recounts the history of his distinguished family, amongst whom were Sir Mirza Ismail, Agha Hilaly and Agha Shahi

Family legend has it that my great grandfather, Ali Asker, fled the court of the last Shah of the Qajjar dynasty of Iran sometime in the late 1800s. No one quite knows why he did so but he must have had good reason because he did not stop running till he reached Mysore in Southern India. And only when several thousand miles separated him from his nemesis did he pause for breath.

Alerted to the arrival of a disheveled Iranian, along with some horsemen, the Maharaja of Mysore enquired about the purpose of their visit. When told that they sought asylum, the Maharaja enquired what could they offer in return. “We will train your cavalry and supply it with horses,” Ali Asker responded. A deal was struck; and he never returned to Iran. […]