As famous artists, musicians, poets left the Capital for a better life, Delhi ended up giving birth to the culture of Awadh, Hyderabad and Bengal
Delhi gave birth to the Mughal culture of Awadh, Hyderabad and Bengal. Though the latter emperors had little control over these important subas of the empire, their patronage was still sought by them. Awadh of Burhan-ul-Mulk began to flourish and so also the Nizam’s Hyderabad and Murshid Quli Khan’s Bengal. Artists, musicians, poets, soldiers of fortune, dancing girls and eunuchs, besides artisans, merchants and clerics were glad to leave Delhi and make their new abode in the three distant principalities. The greatest Urdu poet of that time, Mir Taqi Mir, who had witnessed the sack of Delhi by Nadir Shah in 1739 and its aftermath, also went away to Lucknow, where his decadent Mughal nobleman’s dress, manners and un-Awadh-like appearance became a matter of ridicule until Mir put his foot down at a mushaira and berated the “Sakins of Purab” or the custodians of the East with the famous eulogy: “Dilli jo ek shahr tha/Alam mein Inqiqab/Rehte jahan muntakhab rozgar ke/Jis ko falak ne loot ke bezaar kar diya/Hum rehne wale hain us ujde dyaar ke,” (Delhi the premier city of the world, which was devastated by heaven’s wrath and made into a desolate garden, I’m a resident of that ruined place). His critics realised who he really was and they bowed to the great “shayar”.
However the artists who had left for Lucknow, with a population much more than that of the Mughal capital, found good pastures.
In her latest treatise, “The Last King in India — Wajid Ali Shah,” the noted writer Dr. Rosie Llewellyn Jones has mentioned the lifestyle of Khas Mahal who, though five years older than the king, was married to him and became Malika Muqqadra-i-Azma Nawab Alam Ara. After giving birth to sons she came to be known as Begum Padshah Mahal Sahiba.” Khas Mahal was the niece of Ali Naqi Khan, whose own daughter was to become Wajid Ali Shah’s second official wife. The attraction of the Minister’s niece and then daughter, as first and second wives, was that Ali Naqi Khan himself was the great-grandson of the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II, which gave him enormous status in Awadh. Curiously this is something of which British officials seemed unaware, often referring to him (Ali Naqi) in detrimental terms, and failing to appreciate the importance of the Mughal bloodline and its connectivity with that of the Awadh royal family.”
As for Hyderabad, though many a poet and poet-taster hurried there, Ghalib stayed put in Ballimaran and so also Sheikh Ibrahim Zauq in Paharganj, with the latter commenting, “Kaun jaye Zauq par Dilli ki gallian chor ke” (Who, oh Zauq dare leave the lanes of Delhi). Incidentally, Hyderabad State too had been created by a Mughal nobleman, Asaf Jah, whose father Ghaziuddin Khan lies buried near the Madarasa he established at Ajmere Gate and happens to be an ancestor of Delhi’s present Lt-Governor. Chawri Bazaar is not far from the gate and dancing girls from it went to Hyderabad too to make the nights of the new State as redolent as those of the city of Mir and Ghalib and thus sustain the Golden Quadrangle of Delhi, Awadh, Bengal and Hyderabad.