"Anarkali - A love story from the year 1599" Top 5 Page for this destination Lahore Travelogue by lahoree

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Anarkali meaning "pomegranate blossom" was a slave girl from Lahore during the Mughal era. She was thought to be buried alive by Mughal emperor Akbar for her committing “sin” of falling in love with Prince Salim who later becomes Emperor Jahangir.

Mughal emperor Akbar had a son named Prince Saleem who was a bad mannered boy, and therefore emperor sent him away to the army for fourteen years to learn the discipline required to rule the vast empire that comprised of these days Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and part of Afghanistan.

Finally, Akbar allowed Prince Saleem to return to the main palace in Lahore that was the capital of the Mughal Empire. In order to celebrate the return of prince, Emperor ordered to hold great dance performance headed by a beautiful girl Nadera who was exceptionally beautiful like a blossoming flower. Akbar named her as Anarkali (blossoming pomegranate).

Beginning of love

During her first performance in Lahore, Prince Saleem fell in love with her and it became apparent that she was also in love with him. Later, Prince Saleem informed his father, Emperor Akbar, of his intention to marry Anarkali and make her the queen. Wish was denied on the grounds that Anarkali was just a maid. Prince Saleem and Emperor Akbar exchanged serious arguments and consequently Anarkali was arrested and confined in one of the jails in Lahore.

Last wish

Later Prince Saleem and one of his friends helped Anarkali escape and hid her near the outskirts of Lahore. Prince Saleem then organized an army and attacked Lahore.

Emperor Akbar defeated Prince Saleem and gave him two choices; either to surrender Anarkali or to face death penalty. Love dictated and Prince Saleem elected to die.

Anarkali, unable to allow Prince Saleem to die, came out of hiding and offered Emperor Akbar to give up her life for saving Prince. She asked for just one last wish, which was to spend one evening with Prince.

Anarkali made Prince go to sleep by mixing drugs in pomegranate juice and after a very tearful goodbye to the passed-out Prince, she left the royal palace with guards.

Buried alive

She was taken to the area near present-day Anarkali Bazaar (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 it by soldiers belonging to Emperor. It is said that they closed the top of the large ditch with a brick wall and buried her alive.

After the death of Emperor Akbar, Prince Saleem succeeded as Emperor with title “Jahangir” and constructed a tomb for his love and inscribed the words

“Ah! could I behold the face of my beloved once more”
“the profoundly enamored Salim”

Mughal Empire lost Lahore to Sikhs and tomb of Anarkali was used as residence of one of the Sikh princes. In 1849 Britishers conquered Lahore and converted the tomb into an office. Unfortunately tomb is still an office after 160 years; now used as record room of Civil Secretariat of Lahore.

Anarkali as subject of film industry

Anarkali has fascinated people of South Asia and her story has been subject of films for over a 100 years. Several films have been released in Pakistan and India.

This narrative is from the year 1599 and obviously there is no picture of Anarkali, just an imagination how maganda was pangga of Prince Saleem.

A video narrating plight of Anarkali

Link given below perfectly portrays the love of Prince Saleem and Anarkali in an expensive seven minutes video that was recorded in ancient Lahore Fort.

Lyrics from the video:

Anarkali - “No Kingdom, no crown, no treasure; but only love and romance”

Emperor Akbar – “You maid, you are dreaming of becoming queen of Mughal Empire, you will pay for you fascination”

Anarkali – “Great King of Great Mughal Empire, I have seen your greatness; how can chains stop lovers on the path of love"

And while Anarkali is being buried alive

“My life is getting out of my hands
night is approaching before evening
prince where are you,
your blossom is breathing her last
she is still singing
no Kingdom, no crown, no treasure; but only love and romance”


By: Shoaib Mansoor

  • Page Updated Mar 5, 2009
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