I had fallen back, to witness the drama that was unfolding in the sky.
My guide called out my name from a distance….
It was only minutes ago that he was here,
Telling me stories from the yesteryear,
Tales of opulence, generosity, valor and love,
For an open heart it was like a treasure trove.
Of all the stories, one was of interest in particular,
A King, his Queen, and love that was spectacular,
A poetess and a singer, she could bring words to life,
Smitten by her, the King convinced her to be his wife.
They were living happily ever after, or so they thought,
A big army attacked the kingdom, and a battle fought,
The King was killed in battle, was what the messenger told,
The Queen drank poison, and her lifeless body went cold.
The medieval fort, a witness to her love story,
Her eternal love for him that took her to glory,
Walking on that pavilion even I felt as a part it,
Kind of gloomy that in the end they couldn’t unite.
I glanced beyond the ramparts, as I walked back…
Crimson sun set over the horizon,
Leaving behind a familiar emotion.
And as it went…
The hues that it painted and the winter sky it tore,
Colors of desire and pain, that touches one’s core.
More than a year has gone since…
Crimson, is the color that I remember of that evening,
Of longing, the want of belonging and a love undying.
Crimson Love, ‘t was!
I had earlier written a Hindi poem on Roopmati and called it “Jauhar”. You can read it here.
Mandu, or Mandav was capital of erstwhile kingdom of Malwa. Mandu is dotted with love tales of Sultan Baz Bahadur of Malwa, and his queen consort Roopmati.
Kingdom of Malwa used to be a vassal of the Mughals, and had declared indepedence taking advantage of the instability that ensued just after Akbar had taken control.
Akbar then sent his foster brother Adham Khan and a large contingent of the Mughal army to subdue Malwa. Adham Khan, who had by then heard of Roopmati’s enchanting beauty, had resolved to defeat Malwa and take her as a prized possession of his harem.
Baz Bahadur faced Adham Khan and the Mughals in Sarangpur with a small contingent. Baz Bahadur’s contingent was no match for the mighty Mughals and he escaped after being defeated.
Adham Khan then marched on to Mandav. Thinking that Baz Bahadur was slained in the battle, Roopmati poisoned herself, as she could not have seen another man in her life. Such was her love.
In due time, Adham Khan was executed by Akbar. Baz Bahadur surrendered to Akbar and was in return made the mansabdar of Malwa.
And for Roopmati, her love and loyalty for Baz Bahadur still fascinates imagination of the new generation of tourists to Mandu.
In frame: Brilliant hues of the winter sky just after the sunset, as seen from Roopmati pavilion in Mandu, Madhya Pradesh, India. Roopmati pavilion was built by Sultan Baz Bahadur for Roopmati, so that she could Narmada darshan everyday (one of her pre-conditions to her marriage with him). Narmada flows at a distance, in the plains.
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© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.