Begum Hazrat Mahal, generally referred to as 'Begum of Awadh', was one of the earliest female freedom fighters of India. She emerged as a great Indian leader like [hansi Ki Rani Laxmibai against the cruel and oppressive British rule and fought tooth and nail against it during the 1857 Revolt. She was born as Muhammadi Khanum in 1820 in Faizabad, Awadh (now in Uttar Pradesh) to a poor Syed family. She got entry into the royal harem of Awadh Nawab as Khawasin. Later she was married to Lucknow Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. The title of 'Hazrat Mahal' was conferred upon her after the birth-of her son 'Birjis Qadra'.
In the decade of 1850, the British company was extending its political territory in India by using all fair and unfair means. It ousted the Nawab of A wadh from power on the pretext of maladministration and sent the Nawab to exile to Kolkata. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah accepted the British order and showed no resistance. But Begum Hazrat decided to oppose the British and took up the charge of affairs in her own hands. She motivated the common people and rural folks of Awadh against the cruelty and oppression of the British to their Nawab and got unexpected but huge support from the people during the wartime with the British. She fought bravely and won back Lucknow from the British. She combined her. strengths with other revolutionary forces of the first war of Indian freedom in 1857 and posed a serious challenge against the British. She crowned her 1 4-year old son on the throne of Awadh on July 5,1857. She recaptured the lost territory of Awadh from the British and established herself as a prominent face of British opposition in the region in the 1857 Revolt.
She continued to strengthen her position as an Indian leader but the British forces captured Lucknow after a long seige and forced her retreat in 1858. The British forces led by Colin Campbell recaptured the Awadh region. Begum Hazrat Mahal forced to migrate to Nepal. She never surrendered before the British and died in Nepal in 1879. She played a pivotal role in the 1857 Revolt and gave a serious challenge to the British rule in Lucknow. She is undoubtedly the top Indian leader, like Nana Saheb, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Tatya Tope, Kunwar Singh, Rani Laxmi Bai, Bakht Khan of the 'India's first war of Independence'.