Ode to Mah Laqa Bai Chanda and Hasin Lika Begum

On International Women’s Day, the quadrangle of MAM Government Model Junior College is filled with students. Students having food, chatting on phone, sitting under the trees, some entering the college and others exiting.

According to historians, the college is located exactly at the site which was a training ground created by Urdu language’s first major woman poet: Mah Laqa Bai Chanda. While the maqbara (funerary pavilion) on the foothills of Maula Ali is well known, the garden and the mansion known as Khassa Rang Mahal have become part of folklore.

“Which is the old building where this school started functioning?,” we ask a teacher sitting near the library block of the junior college. “No idea. This used to be a school and then it was turned into a junior college,” says the faculty member who has been working for the past four years in the college. According to historians, the school building is where Mah Laqa Bai Chanda ran her academy to train girl students.

The 1914 municipal map created by Leonard Munn and his cartographers points to the location as Gardens Hasin Lika Begum. The whole sheet is dedicated to the garden of the woman who was adopted by Mah Laqa Bai Chanda and who inherited her estate.

“Husn Laqa Bai was raised in impeccable manners, cultivated and educated, a good judge of culture and a font of generosity. Her grand manor house and garden is still extant on Nampally road and she had a second garden in Lingampally,” writes Scott Kugle translating from a 19th century biography of Mah Laqa Bai Chanda. “When my mother started studying in the school sometime in the 30s, parts of the old building were already ruined. But it is a great coincidence that her jagir and garden are home to two educational institutions. While the garden has a school and a college, Osmania University has been built on her jagir,” says historian Sajjad Shahid whose family has old links to the school. While his mother Dr Zeenath Sajida, a writer who taught at the Osmania University, was a student her paternal aunt Sadatunnisa Begum taught in the girls school which later came to be called Government School for Girls. Now, there is signboard outside the locked building: Govt Model Upper Primary School.

The training ground for dance and music created by one of the first empowered woman poet in the Deccan is now the stomping ground for generations of girls and women taking their rightful place in the society.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 2:49:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/ode-to-mah-laqa-bai-chanda-and-hasin-lika-begum/article34023548.ece

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