(Asifuddin Khan, an Indian-American, is on a visit to his hometown Hyderabad after long years. While he is fascinated by the development Hyderabad has been going through, he cherishes more the older times. Some of his visits included mausoleum of Mah Luqa Bai Chanda near Maula Ali, Charminar and Nizam Club where he felt like. Siasat.com has decided to carry as part one, his observations through the lens as well as words.)
“Today, December 30, 2019, I visited the tomb of Mah Laqa Bai Chanda, which was also in my bucket list.
“Mah Laqa Bai (7 April 1768 – August 1824), born Chanda Bibi, and sometimes referred to as Mah Laqa Chanda, was an Indian 18th century Urdu poet, courtesan, and philanthropist based in Hyderabad.
(She is also referred by some cultural heritage experts as Umrao Jaan of Hyderabad).
In 1824, she became the first female poet to have a diwan (collection of poems) of her work, a compilation of Urdu ghazals named Gulzar-e-Mahlaqa, published posthumously. A gifted student, she mastered the unique ‘Deccani Kathak’, became a doyenne of classical music, wrote poetry and was also trained in military arts like javelin throw and archery.
The Nizam of the time took her on as a close companion (musahiba) and she accompanied him on both battles and hunting expeditions.
In 2009, a United States Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation grant of $100,000 was awarded to The Muslim Educational Social and Cultural Organization (MESCO) for the restoration of the 18th-century tomb and garden complex of Mah Laqa Bai in Hyderabad.
“It’s very sad to see that attempts were made in 2010 with a year-long renovation project by the Center for Deccan Studies, (using funds donated by the Federal government of the United States) yet the mausoleum is surrounded by garbage that welcomes visitors as they enter.
“On some of the walls and pillars the plaster has come off and in one part, the ceiling looks weather-beaten because of the water leak owing to seasonal rains. These ugly patches are an eyesore and need immediate attention before it’s too late.
“There is no such thing called landscaping except for some colorful clothes laid down on the ground for drying up. I found the condition of the tomb and its surroundings as pathetic. Since it has been listed as a protected monument the State government should wake up to the deteriorating condition of the town and the open spaces around it. They require immediate repairs and maintenance.”
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