Eclipsed by the moon: Mahlaqa Bai and her teacher 'The Incomparable' in Nizami Hyderabad

Research output: Other contribution


Mahlaqa Bai “Chanda”, “The Moon”, sang and danced her way into the historical firmament when in 1799 she presented a book of her songs to the Resident of Hyderabad, John Malcolm, in the middle of a nautch. Renowned as the first Indian courtesan to write a divan of Urdu poetry, she was equally famous for her affairs with powerful men at the Nizam of Hyderabad’s court. Obscured by Mahlaqa Bai’s luminescence today, however, is the man behind the Moon, her master-teacher Khushhal Khan “Anup”, “The Incomparable.” As celebrated and as central to Hyderabad’s courtly culture as she was in their time, Khushhal Khan left behind an enormous corpus of songs, several musical treatises, and an illustrated ragamala that tell us a great deal about musical life and lives in Nizami Hyderabad c.1800. In this podcast - originally the opener to a live conversation with historian of Hyderabad William Dalrymple at the British Library - music historian Katherine Schofield discusses the lives and works of these two remarkable characters as they emerge from the writings Anup left to posterity.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputYoutube
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • music
  • India
  • Indian history
  • South Asia
  • Hyderabad
  • Nizams


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