Biography of Begum Hazrat Mahal – India’s first female freedom fighter

Indian women have been playing an important role in the development of civilization. Indian women played an important role in the freedom struggle against British rule. In fact Indian women fought against the British with true patriotism and indomitable courage to get rid of foreign rule. Irrespective of caste and creed, all the individuals participated in this freedom struggle. Women in parallel with men actively participated in India’s freedom struggle without being confined to the boundary of the four walls. Importantly, there was no environment for women to participate actively in the political arena at that time, yet a revolutionary reality that introduced a new path to women’s courage through active participation in the political arena amid stiff challenges is Begum Hazrat Mahal.

Biography of Begum Hazrat Mahal

Biography of Begum Hazrat Mahal

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Table of Contents

NameBegum Hazrat Mahal[1]
Date of Birth1820
Place of BirthFaizabad, Awadh
DiedApril 7, 1879

Early Life of Begum Hazrat Mahal

Begum Hazrat Mahal who was known as Begum of Awadh, her childhood name was Muhammedi Khanum. Muhammedi Khanum was born in 1820 to a poor family in Faizabad, Awadh.

It was because of poverty that Muhammedi Khanum entered royal harem as a Khawasin/maid when her parents sold her to Royal agents and later Muhammedi Khanum was promoted as Harem’s pari (fairy) for her external beauty, intelligence and creative talent and was known as ‘Mahak Pari.’

Begum Hazrat Mahal after being promoted as a pari (fairy), she tied the knot with Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (temporary marriage under contract). She got begum status after Nikah was completed with Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. The title ‘Hazrat Mahal’ was bestowed on her after the birth of their son, Birjis Qadr.

Importantly Begum Hazrat Mahal was not popular among the royal family as she did not got married through royal family relations. On the other hand, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was attracted to the beauty and talent of Begum Hazrat Mahal and other wives of Nawab looked at her with jealousy. However, she was not deprived of the love and faith of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.

Significantly, the East India Company annexed Awadh state through the Doctrine of Lapse introduced by Lord Dalhousie in 1856. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was captured and dethroned by British soldiers on February 13,1956 after the East India Company acquired the state of Awadh and Wajid Ali Shah was exiled to Calcutta. Begum Hazrat Mahal and other wedding concubines were left behind in the Awadh capital Lucknow by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. The fact that the East India Company had illegally encroached had caused outrage among the general public and local rulers in the region.

The political landscape of Awadh as well as the life of Begum Hazrat Mahal had changed since the British took over Awadh. Begum Hazrat Mahal led from the front to free Nawab Wajid Ali Shah from British rule after he was sent to Calcutta by the British. At that time, there was no environment for women to master political education, at that time women were behind the screen. In such a situation, Hazrat Mahal bravely took up strategic plans to free the Awadh from the administrative aspect as well as the British. Begum’s competent administrator and war strategist, proved her mettle as a leader and made Hindus and Muslims all against the British. It may be recalled that she also inspired women to fight against the British. Hazrat Mahal also requested people from all sections of the society to donate funds to fight the British strongly.

Also Read : Biography of Lala Lajpat Rai

Indian Rebellion of 1857

It may be recalled that Begum Hazrat Mahal continued her struggle for freedom of life by refusing to surrender to the British. Hazrat Mahal led the rebellion against the British with her diplomatic wit. For this she first formed an army and fought in front of the British Army with the help of allies. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Begum Hazrat Mahal’s band of supporters rebelled against the forces of the British under the leadership of Raja Jalal Singh, Raja Jalal Singh was given the charge of military combat commander; they seized control of Lucknow. It may be recalled that the women’s group was led by Uda Devi. Uda Devi played an exemplary role as a sniper (sniper). In addition, Begum Hazrat Mahal took the help of King Jalal Singh to fight the British in a stronger way, Raja Jalal Singh helped the revolutionaries to fight against the British in the 1957 freedom struggle.

On May 31,1857, Begum Hazrat Mahal in the Awadh capital Lucknow declared independence in solidarity with the local rulers and the general public. This was followed by the declaration of her 14-year-old son Prince Birjis Qadr as Awadh’s Nawab on July 7,1857. As Nawab’s mother she formed a high level committee for the good governance of the state in parallel with focusing on the security aspects of the state.

The atmosphere of Awadh which was disturbed by the leadership of British started calming down under the leadership of Begum Hazrat Mahal. Hazrat Mahal played an important role in protecting the people of the state even in the absence of Wajid Ali Shah. The farmers and landlords who refused to pay tax to the British had paid taxes to Hazrat Mahal.

Importantly, after nearly ten months of rule by Begum Hazrat Mahal, the British again occupied the capital of Awadh, Lucknow. It may be recalled that the British government had offered pension to Hazrat Mahal after taking over Awadh. But Hazrat Mahal, who is self-respecting and uncompromising to the country, refused to take a pension from the British. Hazrat Mahal, who did not surrender in the interest of the people for the peace of her state, continued her guerrilla war with the British till November 1859 to rescue the land. Ultimately, she later took shelter near Maharaja Jung Bahadur in Nepal. However, Initially Jung Bahadur did not want to provide shelter to Begum Hazrat Mahal at first, but was later allowed to stay. Hazrat Mahal, who spent her next life in Nepal, died on April 7, 1879 and was buried in a nameless grave in the grounds of Kathmandu’s Jama Masjid.

Begum Hazrat Mahal, who has written her name in the history of India’s freedom struggle with golden letter, is another name for courage. She is a strong figure with a strong patriotic and nationalist heart who proved her responsibility towards the country in the early stages of the freedom struggle against the British. Overcoming the various challenges of the social system imposed on women, she appeared as a shining image of patriotism in the interest of the country.

Hazrat Mahal, a brave, outspoken personality, has created a golden chapter in Indian national history for future generations through her work in parallel with establishing an ideal in Indian society through duty, patriotism and social service. She has also proved that women’s thoughts are not trapped in the four walls but they are also very brave. Even today, the skills, prudence, courage, patriotism of Hazrat Mahal are ideal and exemplary for all.


1. Who is Begum Hazrat Mahal?

Ans: Begum Hazrat Mahal or Begum of Awadh was one of the India’s first female freedom fighter, leading the battle in the First Indian War of Independence in 1857.

2. What is the real name of Begum Hazrat Mahal?

Ans: The real name of Begum Hazrat Mahal is Muhammedi Khanum.

3.When and where was Hazrat Mahal born?

Ans: She was born on 1820 at Faizabad, Awadh.

4. When did Begum Hazrat Mahal died?

Ans: Hazrat Mahal died in Nepal on April 7,1879.

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