Once upon a time, in the opulent and grand Mughal palace of Lahore, a captivating tale unfolded. The Mughal Empire, under the rule of Emperor Akbar, was at its zenith of power and prosperity. Amidst the lavish courtyards, intricately designed halls, and sprawling gardens, lived a woman whose beauty and allure were unparalleled – Anarkali.
Anarkali, whose name meant “Pomegranate Blossom,” was a young and enchanting dancer. Her grace, elegance, and mesmerizing dance performances had captivated not just the courtiers and nobles, but even the heart of the mighty Emperor Akbar himself. Anarkali’s ethereal charm had made her a favorite in the imperial court, and her performances were a spectacle that left everyone spellbound.
However, Anarkali’s beauty and allure became a source of jealousy and intrigue within the palace walls. Prince Salim was also struck by Anarkali’s enchanting beauty. Their love blossomed secretly amidst the marble corridors and lush gardens, a forbidden romance that defied the norms of the rigid Mughal society.
As their love deepened, their secret rendezvous became riskier. Emperor Akbar’s suspicions were aroused, and he soon discovered the affair between his son and the captivating dancer, Anarkali. Fearing the consequences of their love, Emperor Akbar ordered Anarkali to be imprisoned, separating the lovers and extinguishing their flame.
The palace walls became a prison for Anarkali, a place where her spirit was held captive even as her body remained confined. Legends tell of her enduring love and sacrifice, and how her beauty continued to shine even in the darkest of times. It is said that she was sentenced to a tragic fate—buried alive within the palace walls.
Anarkali’s story has since transcended the confines of history and has become a symbol of love, sacrifice, and the struggle against societal norms. Her name has been immortalized through poetry, literature, and art, becoming a legend that continues to captivate hearts and minds.
In the grand Mughal palace of Lahore, amidst the splendor and intrigue, the story of Anarkali stands as a testament to the power of love and the complexities of human emotion. Her tale remains an integral part of the rich tapestry of Mughal history, forever woven into the fabric of time.
Anarkali: The Pomegranate Blossom
Anarkali has always evoked powerful feelings of suspense, mystery, amazement, and passionate romance in historians in particular and in people in general. Anarkali’s tale was originally a folktale that was passed down orally from generation to generation. According to the study data that is now accessible, it is thought that the woman, also known as Nadira Begum or Sharf-un-Nissa, was mostly from Iran and arrived in Lahore with a caravan of traders.
She gained admission to Akbar’s court thanks to her attractiveness, and because of her beauty, she was given the nickname Anarkali. It is quite surprising that neither Jahangir nor any other contemporary historian acknowledged her in their work, Tuzk-i-Jahangiri, or left any trace of her narrative.
Anarkali is first mentioned in history in the travel journal of William Finch, a British trader, and traveler who visited Lahore between 1608 and 1611. Anarkali was one of Emperor Akbar’s wives and the mother of his son, Danial Shah, according to Finch’s account. In response to his growing suspicions that Anarkali had an incestuous relationship with Prince Saleem (Jahangir), Akbar had her buried alive in the Lahore Fort wall. In honor of his lover, Jahangir built this magnificent tomb at its current location after ascending to the throne.
The Secret Romance That Defied an Empire
Based on his own observations as well as ancient traditions, Noor Ahmed Chishti presented some details about the splendor of the edifice and the incident of Anarkali in his book Tehqiqaat-i-Chishtia (1860). According to him, Anarkali was Nadira Begum or Sharf-un-Nissa, a stunning concubine who was a favorite of Akbar the Great. Because of Akbar’s excessive affection for her, Anarkali’s rivalry with his other two girlfriends grew. Now, others claim that Anarkali’s illness and death occurred while Akbar was visiting Deccan, and the other two concubines killed themselves to avert the emperor’s displeasure. The emperor gave the order to build this opulent tomb when he returned.
Anarkali’s real name was Nadira Begum or Sharf-un-Nisa, according to Syed Abdul Lateef, who wrote about Lahore in his book Tareekh-i-Lahore (1892). She was one of Akbar’s concubines. Anarkali was sentenced to be buried alive in a wall because the king feared that Prince Saleem and Anarkali were having illicit relations. When Jahangir (Saleem) took the throne, he built a tomb there. The Persian couplet “If I could behold my beloved only once, I would remain thankful to Allah till doomsday”. was written by Jahangir on the grave.
Eternal Legacy: Anarkali’s Name in Poetry, Art, and History
Many books, plays, and films in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan have focused on Anarkali. Imtiaz Ali Taj produced Anarkali, the first and most well-known historical play about her, in 1922. It was written in Urdu. The play was adapted into the 1928 Indian release Loves of a Mughal Prince, which starred Taj as Akbar. In the 1953 Indian movie Anarkali, Bina Rai played Anarkali. The 1955 film Anarkali stars Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Anjali Devi. In 1966, Kunchacko directed the Indian Tamil movie Anarkali.
Madhubala played Anarkali in K. Asif’s classic 1960 Indian release of Mughal-e-Azam, which starred Dilip Kumar as Prince Salim. According to Schofield, the film producer in this instance appears to alter the plot because he finds it difficult to reconcile the thought that the revered national hero of the modern era had been infamously terrible to entomb a lady alive.