The Story of Anarkali

The great Mughal king, Akbar, had a son named Prince Salim who was a bad mannered boy. After having tolerated Salim’s antics for a very long time, Akbar chose to send Salim away to the army to learn the discipline required to rule his vast empire. After fourteen years, Akbar allowed his son to return to the main palace in Lahore, the capital of the Mughal Empire. In order to celebrate the return of the prince, the king held a great dance headed by a girl named Nadera, who was exceptionally radiant like a blossoming flower. Akbar named her Anarkali (blossoming pomegranate).

During her first performance in Lahore, Prince Salim fell in love with her and it became apparent that she was also in love with him. The Prince informed his father of his intention to marry Anarkali and make her the queen. His wish was denied on the grounds that Anarkali was just a commoner. To ensure that his son would follow his command, King Akbar had Anarkali arrested and confined in one of the jails in Lahore.

Driven to be with Anarkali, Prince Salim and his friends helped her escape and hid Anarkali near the outskirts of Lahore. The Prince then organized an army to put an end to his father’s reign. However, King Akbar and his grand army defeated his son and gave Prince Salim two choices: surrender Anarkali or face the death penalty.

Love dictated and Prince Salim chose death. Anarkali, however, was unable to allow the Prince to die for her and came out of hiding and offered to give up her life to save him. Anarkali asked King Akbar for one last wish: to spend one evening with the Prince before her death. Akbar granted her wish.

After spending the night the Prince, Anarkali made Salim fall into a deep sleep by having him drink a potion mixed with pomegranate juice.

After a very tearful goodbye to the unconscious Prince, she left the royal palace escorted by the guards. Anarkali was taken to the area near present-day Anarkali Bazaar (the oldest market in South Asia) in Lahore where a large ditch was made for her. She was strapped to a board of wood and lowered in by soldiers. It is believed that Anarkali was buried alive while the ditch was sealed with bricks.

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