Prince Aly Khan Birth Centenary: Rare Photos from Nagpur and Lourenço Marques

June 13, 2011, marks the centenary of the birth of Prince Aly Solomone Khan, loving son of our 48th Imam, Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan, and beloved father of Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Hazar Imam, Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan and Princess Yasmin Aga Khan.

We fondly remember Prince Aly Khan by presenting to our readers a small yet unique collection of his photographs taken in Nagpur, India,  and Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique.

The five Nagpur photos are from the personal collection of Samsu Jalali of Atlanta, Georgia, and were taken between 1955-1957.  The Lourenço Marques photos are from the collection of Alwaez and Alwaeza Jehangir Merchant who served as religious education teachers and honorary Alwaezin in Mozambique from 1954-1962. The photos were taken on or around March 12, 1957, four  months before Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah passed away.

Simerg is indebted to Mr. Jalali and and Mr. Merchant  for sharing the photos with its readers. These pictures have been preserved in their respective family albums for more than 50 years.


Nagpur, India

During his lifetime, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah used to designate Prince Aly Khan to perform numerous duties on his behalf. In this photo taken in Nagpur, Prince Aly Khan is seen reading Jamati related reports and letters. Photo: Samsu Jalali Collection, Atlanta, Georgia.


Father and son present themselves humbly and pay their respects to Prince Aly Khan during a Jamati mulaqat in Nagpur. The Prince undertook many missions on behalf of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. The Prince’s warmth, affection and care for the murids of Imam-e-Zaman is clearly manifest in this photo. Photo: Samsu Jalali Collection, Atlanta, Georgia.


A photo taken at Nagpur airport. From second left: Alijah Bhanji Bhai Karamsi Dhamani, Vazir ValiBhoy Sunderji Dhamani in Pagdi ( Pheta ) and Traditional Alamdari, and Late Vazir Jafer Ali Abji Bhalwani in Pheta and Saafa. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Prince Aly Khan is late Rai Alwaez Hasham Mamad Mistry ( Lalani ) Jalali. Fourth person after the Prince in white Saafa and Pagdi is Late itmadi Abbas Bhai Jaffer and immediately behind him, in a black Jinnah cap and sporting dark glasses is Major Ibrahim Patel, the then ADC of His Highness’s Royal Family. He would also accompany the current Imam during his visits to India. Itmadi Haji Bhai Virani is second from right and Late Vazir ibrahim Suleman Haji in glasses is between Prince Aly Khan and Hasham Jalali. Photo: Samsu Jalali Collection, Atlanta, Georgia.


Prince Aly Khan and prominent Ismailis seen standing during a religious recitation by Hasham Mistry Jalali. Some of the recognizable individuals are: At extreme left, sitting, is the late Alwaez Hadi Ali Virani; standing third from left is the late Itmadi Alibhai Sumaar Bhairaiya; beside him is Rai Kasamali Bhai Lalani, sixth from left, partial face showing, is Rai Babu Bhai Abdul Virani. Next to Prince Aly Khan is Vazir Vali Bhai SunderJi Dhamani, who was also father in law of Babu Bhai Virani. Photo: Samsu Jalali Collection, Atlanta, Georgia.


Prince Aly Khan in Nagpur. The following can be identified . At left, in Turban and Saafa with medal on lapel is Late Vazir ValiBhoy Sunderji. The person in front with glasses is Vazir Ibrahim Suleman Haji. Seen behind mike looking at camera is Late Vazir Jaferali Abji Bhalwani. Person on extreme right of photograph is Late Alwaez Alibhai Hasham Jiwani Photo: Samsu Jalali Collection, Atlanta, Georgia.


Lourenço Marques, Mozambique

Prince Aly Khan seen walking by Ismaili Girl Guides as he arrives at the Lourenço Marques Jamatkhana. He undertook this visit in mid-March 1957 on behalf of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. Prince Aly Khan is accompanied with Ismaili leaders. At left is the Mukhi of Lourenço Marques Jamatkhana, Esmail Nurmohamed, and at right the Secretary of the Ismailia Association, Ahmed Mahomed. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.


Prince Aly Khan reviewing a religious education booklet in a classroom at Lourenço Marques Jamatkhana. Alwaez Jehangir is seen next to the Prince. He and his wife Alwaeza Maleksultan were the primary religious education instructors in the city, which consisted of around 500 Ismailis in 1957. The religious instruction was imparted in the Gujarati language, and all students were required to learn to read and write in Gujarati at a very young age. At the near side in a volunteer's uniform is the late Hirbanu Hussein Ali, an Ismailia Association board member. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.


Prince Aly Khan in a cheerful mood with Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant and her equally happy husband Alwaez Jehangir, in dark suit. The Prince was visiting classrooms located on the ground floor of the Lourenço Marques Jamatkhana. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Collection.


Editor’s note: Narratives in numerous Ismaili magazines and books such as Jampu Dipno Sultan, by Sayrab Abuturabi and Alwaez Noormohamed Remtulla, which was dedicated to ‘Countess Kulsumbai Diwan Sir Eboo’  relate the many visits and missions that Prince Aly Khan undertook on behalf of the late 48th Imam to many parts of the Ismaili world.  Prince Aly’s visits would include mulaqats with the Jamat during which he would conduct religious ceremonies, perform engagements and marriages as well as visit Jamati institutions such as schools, nursing and maternity homes, and Ismaili orphanages. The institutional leaders and members of the Jamat on learning about Prince Aly Khan’s visit would take utmost care to prepare well for his visit, especialy in regard to the cleanliness of Jamatkhanas,  Jamati properties as well as Ismaili homes about which he was very strict.

Prince Aly Khan hospital had its beginnings in 1945 as a small, 16-bed facility in rented premises. Then known as the ‘Ismalia General Hospital’, it was managed by a devoted group of volunteer working with the objective of providing free medical care to members of the Ismaili community. Over the years, the hospital grew in size until it inevitably had to shift to larger premises. This became possible in 1955, with the generous donation of the Aga Hall Estate, by Prince Aly Khan, after whom the hospital is named. Photo:

The land where the current Prince Aly Khan Hospital is located in Mumbai belonged to Prince Aly Khan. Over the past several decades it has developed into a fine hospital and is now part of the Aga Khan Health Services.

Prince Aly Khan passed away in a motor vehicle accident on May 12, 1960, and last month, on the 51st anniversary of his demise, we published a speech that he made when he was Pakistan’s permanent representative at the United Nations. To read the speech and view some rare photos of him and his late brother, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, please click Islam: The Religion of Equality and Universal Brotherhood by Prince Aly S. Khan.

Date reading/photographs posted: June 13, 2011
Last update: June 14, 2011 (caption corrections).
Readers are advised to notify us of any mistakes.



Samsu Jalali on CNN aasignment

About Samsu Jalali: Born in Nagpur, India, in 1955, Samsu Jalali became a photographer and worked in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania as world news cameraman for the TV station CTN (a sister corporation of CNN) as an editor and a TV station manager. He is now located in Atlanta, Georgia where he runs a business. Both his father and grandfather Mamad Lalani ( Mistry ) and Hasham Mamad Mistry (aka Lalani) Jalali served the Jamat and the Imamat in numerous capacities. His father was also an Alwaez, and is remembered for delivering a Waez on a plane which was taking Ismaili passengers to Aswan for the funeral ceremonies of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. Mr. Jalali’s interest include designing and carving watches from wood.


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24 thoughts on “Prince Aly Khan Birth Centenary: Rare Photos from Nagpur and Lourenço Marques

  1. Very impacting, memorable, historical and tireless work of Prince Aly Solomon Khan for the Ismaili community is depicted in these photographs.

    This is the history of Imamat work by the Imam’s family, for the upliftment of Ismaili community. This history should be passed on and shared by parents to their children, for them to understand, how tirelessly Imam and his family work to contribute towards living standards of the citizens in the developing world.

    Thank you for sharing these historical photos of Prince Aly Khan with your readers.

  2. I remember as a child Prince Aly was addressed as Vali Ahad on occasions being the eldest son of H H Aga Khan III however history changed its course because it is on the onus of an Imam who is appointed as the successor.

  3. Thanks a lot Simerg. My father, late Rai Hasham Jalali’s (Mistry/Lalani) pictures are going to be cherished by my family and many generations ahead.

  4. History together with proud memories. Thanks so much for sharing. I still very much remember the Prince Aly Khan Hospital now in Wadi at Mazgaon, Mumbai.

  5. I got to see my great grand father in these photographs – Alijah Bhanji Bhai Karamsi Dhamani. Thank you.

  6. In 1959 our Beloved Prince Aly Soloman visited Karachi. I was fortunate that he presented me with a sports (football) book during prize distribution ceremony organised by the Student Union of Kharadhar, Karachi, for attaining highest position in the community in Secondary Education Examination (Matriculation). Prince Aly spoke to me for about ten minutes, with his beloved hand constantly on my right shoulder, and whilst asking me about my future ambitions advised me to enter into public services where I could provide Jamat and general public help; incidentally I got a job with Pakistan International Airlines, which allowed me me to serve the Jamat and public at Large. The Prince also asked the estate agent, Varas Ameerali, that I deserved a cup instead of the book. However, beloved Prince passed away. It was through his far sightedness and blessing that I was able to work for one of the finest airlines in the world at that time. The memory of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s father, Prince Aly Khan, will forver ever cherish in my heart and mind!

  7. Great memories, great history, great work, and thank you for putting it together and sharing the inforation.

  8. This kind of historical collection as preserved is no doubt great and worth for our future generation. For me, it was like I was rewinding the past, after having seen Jehangir who also was associated with the Ismailia Association for India. Along with Sultanali Missionary we used to ponder upon about our past history.

    They have given good contribution to Ismaili History* and both of them deserve best complements. Their collections and works need to be well preserved and communicated to the Ismaili Scholars.

    *Editor’s note: Alwaez Jehangir and Alwaez Sultanali, both currently in Vancouver, jointly translated Farhad Daftary’s “A Brief History of the Ismailis” into Gujarati. The Gujarati text was published by the Institute of Ismaili Studies.

  9. This is a wonderful look into our more recent history.

    This is the kind of material that the present generation and the coming generations
    have to be provided with Universally. We must (in order to know who we are) know who our forefathers/mothers, were and what the Imam of the time and his family did for the Jamat in guiding them and aiding them towards a better life, both material and spiritual. This aspect of our history has to be made available to the generations of today and the future generations on a constant basis.

    The questions posed by the Ismaili youth today are crucial and important which must not be ignored. We do not appear to have answers to many of the question that they sincerely ask. It is to be hoped that the talented individuals we have in the Jamat will address the questions vigorously, and with adequate answers.

    Finally, thank you for the wonderful photographs and the explanations and captions.

    Mawla Bless.

    Alaudin Alibhai

  10. Ya Ali Madad Shamsu. I am thrilled to see the pictures. Amongst others, I saw the picture of my late dad Aitmadi Abbas Jaffer of Nagpur. I did not know that you pursued photography as a profession. I am glad because its my hobby.
    Thank you.
    Abdul Malik. Oak Ridge, TN

  11. Beautiful photos. Added in my collection. Very informative and interesting.

    Thank you for sharing many historical pictures and articles.

  12. Memorable photographs, and excellent writeup. Thank you for sharing. In the Nagpur photo with Prince Ali Khan sitting on the dais, with late Vazir Jafferali Bhalwani is also Vazir Hussainali Javeri on the extreme right.

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