Native to Telangana, Marathwada region of Maharashtra, Southern part of Andhra Pradesh, Northern Karnataka, Goa, Northern part of Tamil Nadu and Central Karnataka; also significant minority speakers found in the state of Kerala.
Region Deccan Plateau
Native speakers
11 million (2007)[1]
Urdu alphabet (Nastaʿlīq script), other
Language codes
ISO 639-3 dcc
Glottolog decc1239[2]

Dakhini also spelled Dakkhani and Deccani, arose as a Muslim court language of the Deccan Plateau ca. 1300 AD in ways similar to Urdu. It is similar to Urdu in its influence from Arabic and Persian with a Hindi base, but differs because of the strong influence of Marathi, Konkani, Telugu, and Kannada spoken in the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This dialect has a rich and extensive literary heritage. Despite it being the native language of most Muslims of the erstwhile Princely States of Hyderabad State and the Kingdom of Mysore, it is also the spoken form of Hindi-Urdu for most Hindus and non-Hindus of the region to this day and is the most common "street-language" in several cities including Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Aurangabad. Dakhini is the native language of the Dakhini Muslims.


Dakhini is spoken in the Deccan plateau region of India. Just as Urdu developed in Lucknow, Dakhini developed in Deccan plateau parallel to Urdu with Khari Boli. The term Dakhini is perhaps an umbrella for a group of dialects spoken by certain communities of Muslims in the Deccan region.

Dakhini was the lingua franca of the Muslims of Deccan, chiefly living in Hyderabad state, and the Mysore state, covering most of Deccan plateau except for Moplah Muslims of Kerala and the Maricar, Rawthar and Lebbai Muslims in Tamil Nadu in the south, to the Beary Bhashe language and Konkani speaking Muslims along the western coast of Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra. Though, a minor Segment of Kerala Muslims do speak the Dakhini dialect and identify themselves as Dakhini Muslims who follow Hanafi Fiqh(Hanafi School of Islamic Jurisprudence).

Dakhni for all practical purposes today is an oral language which is flexible enough to be visually represented by different scripts like Devanagari or Urdu or even Persian. Dakhini was widely spoken across the Deccan plateau peninsula with subtle changes in the dialect as you go down south away from Hyderabad ending as a heavily Tamilized version around the middle of Tamil Nadu.

Dakhini mainly spoken by the Muslims living in these areas can also be divided into 2 dialects:

Dakhini in the Indo European Languages' Family Tree, is represented under Urdu, and is a Hindustani Language.

North Dakhini - Spoken in areas of Former Hyderabad State: Mainly Hyderabad City, Telangana (mainly Nizamabad city) , Marathwada (cities of Aurangabad and Nanded), Hyderabad-Karnataka (Gulbarga, Bidar & Raichur in Present day Karnataka), minority native Goan Konkani Muslims in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka with some variation of Nawayath, and Goan Muslim dialect in Goa.

South Dakhini - Spoken along Central Karnataka, Bangalore, North Tamil Nadu, Southern Andhra Pradesh extending up-to Chennai and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh . These were the areas under the Mysore and Carnatic sultanates. This is also the form of Dakhini spoken by the minor Dakhini Muslim community of Kerala.

North Dakhini is spoken with an added influence of pure standardized Urdu and while South Dakhini draws slightly more influences from Kannada and Tamil, it has quite a number of original words not to be found in Urdu or Northern Dakhini, with even a slightly varied grammar and sentence structuring. This particularly points towards possible signs that Dakhini as a language in its own sense could have evolved from the Southern parts much more than the Northern variation.

This dialect is used extensively in the spoken form; when it comes to writing and literary work, standard Urdu is used. Most Dakhini speakers are fluent in standard Urdu, as well as Dakhini, and most will put Urdu or Hindi as their mother tongue on official censuses, and surveys. Majority of Dakhini speakers don't even know that they speak a language different from standard Urdu, or know the history behind it, and will consider it a slang, native to where they're from.


The Urdu language from Delhi was introduced in the Deccan region during Alauddin Khilji invasion in between 1295 AD to 1316 AD. It became more popular in the Deccan plateau during and after Muhammad bin Tughluq shifted the Sultanate capital from Delhi, making the city of Daulatabad the new capital in 1327 AD. As a revolt against the Sultanate, the Bahmani Sultanate was formed in 1347 AD with Daulatabad as its sultanate capital. This was later moved to Gulbargah and once again, in 1430, to Bidar, The Bahmani Sultanate lasted for about 150 years, expanding to almost the entire Deccan Plateau (which was then named as Deccan). This shifting of power, moving of capitals, expansion of sultanate collectively propagated the Urdu language of Delhi, which came to be known as Deccani and received patronage from its rulers. It was also known through other names like Hinduastani, Zaban Hinduastani, Dehalvi and Hindawi. The Sufis were the earliest to use Deccani in its written form. The earliest available manuscript on record is Kadam Rao Padam Rao a Masnavi of Fakhruddin Nizami, written during 1421–1434 AD.

When the Mughals took over Deccan, many notable personalities, both secular and religious, settled in the Deccan and spread the language across borders that now form parts of Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa. One such poet of Mughal region was Wali Deccani (1667–1707), the first established poet to have composed Ghazals and compiled a divan (a collection of ghazals where the entire alphabet is used at least once as the last letter to define the rhyme pattern).

Dakhini and Hindustani

Dakhini, though built on a base of Khadi Boli, influenced the development of Urdu (also known as Hindustani, Hindavi, or Rekhta). This was achieved primarily through the continual interaction of Sufi poets, courtesans and public between the Deccan and the Mughal Courts and the Khadi Boli heartland. Hyderabad was the southernmost city of North India. Noteworthy are the contributions of Wali Dakhni (also known as Wali Aurangabadi and Wali Gujarati), a famous poet of Dakhni, who visited Delhi in 1700. He astonished the poets of Delhi with his ghazals. He drew wide applause from the Persian-speaking poets, some of who, after listening to Wali, also adopted the language of the people, ‘Urdu’, as the medium of their poetic expressions. Prominent poets—Shah Hatem, Shah Abro and Mir Taqi Mir—were among his admirers.

At that time in Delhi, the court poets were composing in Persian and Arabic. For others, Braj and Awadhi were the languages of literary and religious expressions. The spoken language of all was Khadi Boli. When the poets listened to Wali in Dakhni language (which is also a variant of Khari Boli) they were struck by the fact that the spoken language of the people was capable of such rich literary expression. These events were important for they hastened the adoption of Urdu over Khadi Boli, in the early 18th century, as the language for literary and religious expression (in which Dakhini played the role of a catalyst).[3]

Dakhini and Hindi

A twentieth-century Kerala Hindi scholar, Dr. Muhammad Kunj Mettar, established Dakhni as a source for modern Hindi. Dr. Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay also maintained that it was Dakhni that established the use of Khari Boli replacing Braj in the North. In fact, even the name Hindi for the language originated in the South. A Tamilian, Kazi Mahamud Bahari in 17th century used the word Hindi for Dakhni in his Sufi poetry called Man Lagan. Renaming Dakhini as Hindi was probably a symbolic gesture by him to extend the geographical reach of this language.[4]


Dakhini is part of the Indo-Aryan grouping of the Indo-European languages. The Dakhini language has puzzled linguists for years, and its specific classification is a confusing subject, it could be a direct descendant, or sister language of Urdu, or be a Persianization of the Marathi language. It was also declared as the National language of the former defunct Hyderabad State.

Geographic distribution

Most speakers of Dakhini live in the Indian region known as the Deccan. They inhabit the regions comprising the erstwhile Muslim kingdoms in Deccan Plateau viz. portions of the states of Telangana, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu. They can be collectively be known as Dakhini Muslims, and include subgroups like the Hyderabadi Muslims.


Other than the Northern, including Hyderabadi, and Southern, dialects of Dakhini include Savji bhasha i.e. the language of the Savji community in the Hubli, Dharwad, Gadag, Bijapur, Belgaum region.

See also


  1. Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Deccan". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. http://www.bangalorenotes.com/dakhni.htm
  4. http://www.bangalorenotes.com/dakhni.htm

External links

"Dakhni: The Language in which the Composite Culture of India was Born" - http://www.bangalorenotes.com/dakhni.htm

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