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Love tales of yore

They emerge from history, folklore, literature and legend. Deepa Gahlot recapitulates 12 immortal love stories.

art and culture Updated: Feb 26, 2008 10:06 IST
Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot
Hindustan Times

Salim- Anarkali
Prince Salim fell in love with a beautiful courtesan Anarkali and fought a battle with his father Emperor Akbar over her. In the end, she was sacrificed to maintain the purity of the Mughal bloodline.

She is said to be a fictional character, immortalised in the films Anarkali and Mughal-e-Azam. Her name is always attached to Salim's.

Shah Jahan-Mumtaz
The world's greatest monument to love, the Taj Mahal, was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved queen Mumtaz. He fell in love with her at first sight while wandering through the bazaar and married her.

Years later, when she died in childbirth, legend has it, his hair turned white overnight in grief.

Prithviraj- Samyukta
The most colourful story of a daring elopement. King Prithviraj rode into the swayamwar of his beloved Samyukta, to be married to another, pulled her on to his horse and galloped off.

In this tragic love story of Middle Eastern origin, Laila and Majnu were childhood mates. When they grew up and were forced to separate, he came unhinged. Laila committed suicide on being forcibly married to another. Majnu died at her grave.

In this tragic romance from Punjab, sweethearts Heer and Ranjha were separated by a jealous uncle. She was married off to another man, he became a jogi. When they reunited years later, the uncle poisoned Heer's food and killed her. Ranjha ate the same ladoo and died by her side.

Sohni -Mahiwal
Sohni was the daughter of a potter, Izzat Baig a wealthy merchant. To be close to his beloved, he worked as a servant in her house and came to be called Mahiwal (buffalo herder).

To break up the romance, Sohni's family got her married to another potter, but she would swim across the river with the help of an inverted earthen pot to meet Mahiwal.

One night, her sisters substituted the pot with an unbaked one, which dissolved in the water, causing her to drown. When he saw her dying, Mahiwal jumped into the river and drowned too.

Mirza - Sahiba

To escape her family wrath, Sahiba eloped with her beloved Mirza. On the way, they stopped for a while to rest under a tree. Sahiba's brothers caught up with them and killed Mirza. Sahiba killed herself with the same sword.


In this classic love story of Persian origin, Shirin was a princess, Farhad a commoner. Her father decreed that Farhad could marry Shirin only if he dug a 40-mile long canal in the rocky land among the hills.

When Farhad slogged for years and didn't perish, the king sent a false message of Shirin's death. He killed himself in grief, she committed suicide too.

Sassi -Punnun
In this love story from Sind, Prince Punnun fell in love with a dhobi's daughter and strived to win over her father by learning to wash clothes.

His brothers, unhappy with the match, got him drunk and carried him off. Sassi followed him through the desert and perished. When Punnun woke up, he rushed into the desert, and died too.

Dhola -Maru
This long and complicated love story is one of the few from folklore that ends on a happy note. Dhola and Maru were married as children, but when they grew up, he forgot and married another woman.

Maru pined for her husband. When Dhola found out, he rode out meet her - and after several adventures, like Maru being bitten by a snake and miraculously brought to life by yogis, they vanquished all their enemies and lived happi ly ever after.

Bajirao -Mastani
Maratha nobleman Bajirao fell in love with the beautiful half-Muslim courtesan Mastani. She was a skilled rider and warrior, too, and accompanied Bajirao on his military campaigns.

But their love story incensed his mother and wife Kashibai and they tried to send her into exile. She resisted all attempts to separate her from Bajirao, and died soon after he did, of an illness.

Baz Bahadur - Roopmati
Sultan Baz Bahadur fell in love with the voice of a Hindu songstress of Malwa. They were married according to Muslim and Hindu rites. Hearing of great beauty, Roopmati's Adham Khan attacked and defeated Baz Bahadur. Roopmati poisoned herself.