Mah Laqa Bai

Apr 7, 1768 - 1824

Mah Laqa Bai, born Chanda Bibi, and sometimes referred to as Mah Laqa Chanda, was an Indian 18th century Urdu poet, courtesan and philanthropist based in Hyderabad. In 1824, she became the first female poet to have a diwan of her work, a compilation of Urdu Ghazals named Gulzar-e-Mahlaqa, published posthumously. She lived in a period when Dakhini was making its transition into the highly Persianized Urdu. Her literary contributions provide insight on such linguistic transformations in southern India. She was an influential female courtesan of the Deccan; the Nizam, ruler of Hyderabad, appointed her to the omarah, and as a close affiliate at the court. In 2010, her memorial in Hyderabad, that houses her tomb, was restored using funds donated by the Federal government of the United States.
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