Posted by sepoy on September 15, 2004 · 3 mins read

Every single trip I took to Old Anarkali bazaar in Lahore as a youth had one hidden motive: Try to guess which wall is Anarkali, the nautch-girl who dared love the Emperor's son, cemented in. I used to think she was still alive and peeking through little holes in the wall, observing the world. A bit morbid, I must admit.

The legend of the love between Prince Salim (later to become Emperor Jahangir (c. 1605-26)) and a commoner Anarkali must have some roots in folklore but I am a bit lazy to dig it up right now. The story goes as follows: The prince and the girl fall in love. Emperor Akbar deems the romance against the royal wishes. The prince rebels and is sentenced to death. Anarkali steps forward and says that she will sacrifice her life instead but to spend one night with her lover. They have that one night. In the morning, the palace guards take her away and she is sandwiched alive in a brick wall.

This tale was told in the 1922 Urdu play, Anarkali written by Syed Imitiaz Ali Taj. Taj was a good ole' Lahori boy who was very much into the seedy life-style of mujaras that took place around the old gates of Lahore. He sought to capture for eternity one of those nautch-girls and I doubt it existed before that. Several film versions followed but the most famous was the Indian epic Mughal-e Azam (1960). I watched it as a child and must have been where I got fixated on Anarkali's final resting place (there is a tomb of Anarkali in the bazaar, though).

Anyways, all that is relevant today because Field-Marshall-to-be is coming to NY on September 22 and part of his shindig is to attend a special screening on Broadway of Anarkali. The high-entry fee play is to benefit the UN Human Development Fund. Zia Mohiyudin is narrating. The "script, direction, costumes and music" of this version are by Rizwan Beyg, a fashion designer, as quoted in this Jang interview and the twist he is putting on the age-old tale is that Anarkali was actually Noor Jehan. Ok.

Which seems to be the same twist in a play by Sohail Malik and his wife Shaiyanne Malik entitled, Anarkali Through The Eyes Of Noor Jahan (The Legend Of The Entombed Flower) that was performed in 2003. These writers have claimed in court that the Broadway show is ripping them off without credit and sued against any public showing of their play and have won! Except, that the the organizers of the NY shindig are still going forward with it. Here are some details, plus cool artwork of the invites, about the case.

All of which still leaves me wondering, which wall is Anarkali in?


tsk | September 15, 2004

I bet X-Ray scans or even acoustic scanning could figure that out. Whatever one has a hollow center methinks. Just don't let Geraldo make a show about it.

rohankumar | December 10, 2004

I am a great admirer of Anarkali who was in love with prince selim(later emperor jehangir),there is a tomb of her in lahore but sad to say it is not given much importance as a monument of love.In india we give top importance to Taj mahal as a monument of love .In Italy they give importance to the city of verona as a destination for tourists because romeo and juliet lived there.The tomb of anarkali can be promoted as a tourist destination /as a monument of love and i am sure it will slowly but surely attract tourists and will generate income for local people and government.

Mehr | February 18, 2005

is there a way I can get rizwan beyg's email address?

edathuajose | March 30, 2005

Somehow i have always felt anarkali to have been ignored by the pak tourism you guys have such a romantic story.. a tomb .u could use the indian film market her and make her eternal...PYAR KIYA THO DARNA KYA>>

Joaquim Salvador | April 21, 2005

I have a firm called ANARKALY SERVI«OS DE LÕNGUAS (meaning language services)in Mozambique. I decided to have this name as a tribute to THE OTHER the tale of Anarkali in fact represents. Would that be possible to us to get some material from the oral tradition or/ and even some posters or drawings that could call the attention to it? Where to find it?

arzoo | May 01, 2005

where is anarkali's tomb in lahore? Exact location plz!

Ijaz Dayal | May 29, 2005

AnarKali's tomb is situated inside the lahore Civil Secretariat at the Lower Mall Rd, and the building is in use of the Archives Department.

bulleyah | May 30, 2005

something i wrote after actually visiting anarkalai's tomb - I look up at the massive whitewashed dome of Anarkaliís Tomb looming against the Lahore sky in awe. I was expecting something much smaller, far less grand. She was after all a ëfallení woman. According to popular belief a courtesan, probably a member of Akbarís harem, bricked into a wall for daring to love the emperorís son. In the 19th century, this was the residence of General Ventura, the French commander of Ranjit Singhís army; after the British took over, for a short while it was an Anglican church. Today the tomb stands in the compound of the Punjab Civil Secretariat. The guard is apologetic about not letting me in. The tomb now houses the Punjab State Archives, and even researchers can enter for only an hour a day. But he shows me a window on the side, from where I can look at Anarkaliís mazaar. The tombstone has been shifted next to the wall, and through the window you can see beautiful Persian calligraphy, which apparently reads: ìAh! For just one more glimpse of my beloved, I shall thank God till the day of resurrection.î Signed, ìThe enamoured Salim, son of Akbar.î A tomb sacred to the memory of a courtesan, where a mercenary firangi once lived, now houses the documentary past of an entire province. I think I will like Lahore...

annoyed | June 29, 2005

well salim was a lousy person who cudnt stand up for his love ...n in end the its the womam who suffered due to his dumbness/weakness.....not worth loving for. so Anarkali is a story of a coward's love to just antoher paly of heart...if salim truly wud have loved her he wudnt have marreid Noor jehan..who was wife of sher afghan,murdered at orders of Salim aka as to win Noor jehan. damn that moghul!

nka_cool | January 25, 2006

Mr/Miss. annoyed.... u must know this... noor jehan was in fact anarkalii....

Sana | February 13, 2006

Hey letme ask u some questions related to Anarkali Drama: 1)do u think that literature has an effect on human psycology?Yes or No,and how? 2)which of the character in Anarkali's play is the favourtie of urs? 3)If u r given the opportunity to change the name of the Anarkali drama/film,what other name will u suggest for it? 4)do u read urdu dramas?YES or NO. 5)In ur opinion which of the following is read the most in urdu: 1-Afsanay 2-Drama 3-Safarnamay 4-novel

Lilly moo | February 14, 2008

WOW!!!! But shouldnt have the king punished his son for having in an affair, just like he put anarkali in a brick wall?

dilaram | May 14, 2008

"nka_cool" darling... u have got ur facts rong.. noor jehan was not anarkali... atleast that much every1 knows..

NADEEM GHORI | February 06, 2009


deepak | February 20, 2009

How come Mughal empire capital because Lahore instead of Delhi. One more among the countless Paki lies.

Debarati | February 22, 2009

I'm brought up in Delhi so, frequently visited Agra on every vacation. Everytime I was surprised to see the tunnel door at Fatehpur Sikri which is said to be used by Anarkali to escape to Lahore as told by the guide. As we all know our history, I mean the subcontinent, is more based on folk lore than facts, can you guide me through this? Moreover, Just few days ago while researching on the Mughal, I read an article where the writer says Anarkali or the Nadira Begum was an important member of Akbar's court in Lahore and very important indeed which was often opposed by Salim himself. Anarkali died during Akbar's regime and if she was so much been hated why Akbar would he even allow anyone to make the massive tomb for her? Please help me.And if possible can you send a pic. of Anarkali's tomb at my email id. Thanks.

yita | June 11, 2009

is it true?

Arfaz | July 21, 2009

"annoyed", you are wrong. The furious Prince Saleem(Jahangeer) organized an army and began an attack on Lahore.Akbar had a much larger army and quickly defeated Prince Saleem's force. Akbar gave Saleem two choices,either to surrender Anarkali to him or to face the death penalty.Prince Saleem, OUT OF HIS TRUE LOVE for Anarkali, chose the death penalty.Anarkali, however, unable to allow Prince Saleem to die, came out of hiding and approached Akbar.She asked for just one wish, which was to spend just one pleasant night with Prince Saleem. After her night with Saleem, Anarkali drugged Saleem,and the unconscious Saleem could not do anything not to sandwich Anarkali alive.

barbie | April 02, 2010


Shabbir khan | August 02, 2010

Mr. Syed lmtiaz Ali Taj, was a prose and drama writer, He was born in Lahore on October 13, 1900. After his education, he was able to partake in his father's publishing institution, Dar-ul-Ishaat Punjab. Anar Kali was a brain child of Mr. Syed lmtiaz Ali Taj. In 1922 he wrote 'Anarkali', which became a landmark in Urdu drama writing. This was later adapted into feature films in India and Pakistan. The most famous film was Mugl e Azam

Azhar Khaksar | December 04, 2010

Only one Thing I can't Understand Why Akber Was Grate .....if he done such a shameful action .....or History is not True i seen WAH Gardens ...Reconstruction work in 2003 why not Pakistani Government is paying Attention towards Indian Heritage it is not just Muslims or Mughals Heritage its Subcontinent Heritage