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Dakhini or Dakkhani (دکنی), also spelled Dakkani, Dakhni and Deccani (dec-ca-ni), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in southern India. It arose as a language of the Deccan sultanates ca. 1300 AD in ways similar to Urdu. It is similar to Urdu in its influence from Arabic and Persian with a Prakrit base, but differs because of the strong influence of Marathi, Telugu and Kannada spoken in the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and a few muslims in Tamil Nadu. This dialect has a rich and extensive literary heritage. The dialect is today only spoken in Deccan.[3] Dakhini is the native language of the Dakhini Muslims.

Native toMarathwada region of Maharashtra, Khandesh region of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Hyderabad-Karnataka, Telangana, Southern and Central part of Andhra Pradesh and Northern part of Tamil Nadu; also significant minority speakers found in the state of Goa.
EthnicityDakhini Muslims
Native speakers
11 million Deccani Muslims (2007)[1]
Nastaʿlīq script (Urdu alphabet), other
Language codes
ISO 639-3dcc


Dakhini is spoken in the Deccan region of India. In the early 14th century, the north Indian language spoken in Delhi and its neighbourhood, then called Hindavi or Dehlavi, travelled south along with the Muslim governors, soldiers and common people that went to settle in Deccan. It flourished there, not only as a spoken language, but also a literary language up to the end of the 17th century. It was called Dakhini by the northerners even though there were no major differences from the north Indian variety except for the influences and borrowings from the local vernaculars.[4]

Being a literary language Dakhini adopted the Perso-Arabic script for writing the language. After the Aurangzeb's conquest of Deccan, the northerners came into contact with Dakhini, and imported the practice of writing in the Perso-Arabic script, which eventually became the standard practice for Urdu all over the Indian subcontinent.[5]

Dakhini was the lingua franca of the Muslims of Deccan, chiefly living in Hyderabad state (including the regions ceded to the British by Nizams), and the Mysore state. Dakhini, mainly spoken by the native Muslims living in these areas, can be divided into 2 classes:

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

North Dakhini. North Dakhini is spoken in Andhra Pradesh,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. South Dakhini is spoken along Central Karnataka, Bangalore, Southern and Central Andhra Pradesh (Vijayawada, Kurnool, Kadapa, Guntur, Nellore.,etc.), and also spoken by a few muslims in North Tamil Nadu (Chennai, Vellore, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Villupuram, Thiruvannamalai) and scattered also in South Tamil Nadu. However, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of the muslims in Tamil Nadu speak only Tamil as their mother tongue. This form of Deccani is interlaced with the native language words of the respective regions. 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.[citation needed]


The Khari Boli Hindavi from Delhi was introduced in the Deccan region during Alauddin Khalji invasion in between 1295 AD to 1316 AD[citation needed]. 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.[6]

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, southern Andhra Pradesh, 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 has plenty of Turkish evolved loanwords,[7] due to the fact that the ancestors of its people were of Malmuk origin, although most of the Dakhini population of Karnataka has above 90 percentage of Indian genes,.[8] It is similar to Urdu in its influence from Arabic and Persian with a Prakrit base, but differs because of the strong influence of Marathi, Telugu and Kannada spoken in the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This language, which is often mistaken as a dialect of Urdu, has a rich and extensive literary herite, the most important being Kitab-E-Navras - revered for its transcendence beyond secularism, and Kadam Rao Padam Rao.

Dakhini and HindustaniEdit

Dakhini, though built on a base of Khadi Boli, influenced the development of Urdu (also known as Hindustani, Hindavi, Dehlavi 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 whom, 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).[9]

Dakhini and HindiEdit

Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay also maintained that it was Dakhini 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 Tamil, Kazi Mahamud Bahari, used the word Hindi for Dakhini in the 17th century in his Sufi poem Man Lagan. Renaming Dakhini as Hindi was probably a symbolic gesture by him to extend the geographical reach of this language.[9][better source needed]


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 distributionEdit

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, southern Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu, few muslims speak the Tamilized Deccani dialect as their language (though all are fluent in Tamil). They can be collectively be known as Dakhini Muslims, and include subgroups like the Hyderabadi Muslims. In Tamil Nadu, the Urdu speakers are a subset of the Tamil Muslim community.


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.

Deccani Film IndustryEdit

The Deccani Film Industry is based in Hyderabad, India, and its movies are produced in Hyderabadi Urdu, a dialect of Deccani.[10]

See alsoEdit


  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, eds. (2017). "Deccan". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Prakāśaṃ, Vennelakaṇṭi (2008). Encyclopaedia of the Linguistic Sciences: Issues and Theories. Allied Publishers. p. 186. ISBN 9788184242799.
  4. ^ Dua 2012, p. 383.
  5. ^ Dua 2012, pp. 383–384.
  6. ^ D. Balasubramanian Harsh K. Gupta, Aloka Parasher-Sen, (Editors); Nishat, Jameela (Author) (2000). Deccan heritage. Hyderabad: Universities Press. pp. 201–210. ISBN 9788173712852. Retrieved 5 December 2016.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ InpaperMagazine, From (13 November 2011). "Language: Urdu and the borrowed words". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  8. ^ Rajkumar, Revathi; Kashyap, VK (19 August 2004). "Genetic structure of four socio-culturally diversified caste populations of southwest India and their affinity with related Indian and global groups". BMC Genetics. 5: 23. doi:10.1186/1471-2156-5-23. ISSN 1471-2156. PMC 515297.
  9. ^ a b "Dakhni". Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2012.[better source needed]
  10. ^ Mumtaz, Roase. "Deccanwood: An Indian film industry taking on Bollywood". Retrieved 23 February 2018.