Begum Hazrat Mahal took refuge in Kathmandu with her 10-year-old son in 1859

The 135th death anniversary of one of India’s freedom fighters, Begum Hazrat Mahal, was observed at a major mosque in Kathmandu on Monday.

A wreath-laying ceremony was organised by the Embassy of India at the Jame-e-Masjid amid a gathering of community leaders and the embassy staff. This is the first-ever ceremony in the memory of the wife of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh (Uttar Pradesh), who rests in the tomb in the heart of the capital.

“Begum Hazrat Mahal was an extraordinary freedom fighter of India who played a vital role in the first war of independence (in 1857). Her contribution to the freedom movement of India will always be remembered,” said India’s Ambassador to Nepal, Ranjit Rae.

The inscription on the tomb says Begum Hazrat Mahal came to Nepal in 1859 and died on April 7, 1879.

According to the information provided by the embassy, she led the revolutionary government of Awadh during 1857-58, and was instrumental in opposing the British in Awadh after they exiled the Nawab to Calcutta.

However, the British recaptured Lucknow, the capital of Awadh, and the Begum took refuge in Kathmandu along with her 10-year-old son Birjis Qadr and some other loyal staff.

The then Prime Minister of Nepal, Jung Bahadur Rana, gave her shelter at the palace in Thapathali (which now houses an office of the Nepal Rastra Bank), said Samim Miya Ansari, one of the co-organisers of the wreath-laying event. Rana took the step despite being in good terms with the British at the time.