Begum Hazrat Mahal : A great Indian freedom-fighter, named as ‘Lakshmi Bai’ of Awadh
Begum Hazrat Mahal: An Indian Rebellion for freedom in 1857
Begum Hazrat Mahal, also known as the Begum of Awadh (Oudh) and was the wife of the then Lucknow ruler, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. She was a great Indian freedom-fighter who played a major role during India’s First War of independence (1857-58). She was bestowed the title ‘Hazrat Mahal’ after the birth of their son, Birjis Qadr. Behind Begum Hazrat Mahal’s graceful nature and physical charm lay the qualities of a strong leader and an adroit strategist, which were strongly witnessed through her contributions to India’s first struggle for independence against the British.
She was born in 1820 at Faizabad, Awadh, India. She was a Shia-Muslim by religion and courtesan by profession and had been taken into the royal harem as a khawasin as she was a real graceful lady, whose beauty had an unbeatable charm. When her husband was exiled to Calcutta (now Kolkata), thus leaving the kingdom without a leader and in a chaotic mess. It was then when Begum Hazrat Mahal took over the reigns, despite her divorce from the Nawab, she took charge of the affairs of the state of Awadh.
She rebelled against the British East India Company during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and was soon successful in seizing Lucknow from the British. She crowned her son as royal heir of Awadh.
On June 30, 1857 Begum Hazrat Mahal; The unsung heroine of the first war of Independence, she shot the Brit ruler Sir Henry Lawrence and defeat British army in a decisive Battle at Chinhat.
She used all her might for freeing the state of Awadh from the clutches of the British Raj authorities. Finally, she took refuge in an asylum in Nepal, where she died in the year 1879.
Despite being an icon of India’s first Freedom Struggle, Hazrat Mahal’s mausoleum lies in a misfortunate shape after vandalism and she was forgotten at the recent centenary of the “First War of Independence” held in Uttar Pradesh, becoming a lost hero in the pages of Indian history.
However, to acknowledge her endless effort and immeasurable contributions in fighting for the freedom of country, the Government of India issued a stamp on 10th May 1984 and 'Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship' scheme. The Scheme of "Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship" for Girl Students belonging to the Minority Communities was earlier known as "Maulana Azad National Scholarship" Scheme. It was started by the Foundation in academic year 2003-04.