Evergreen Indian love stories

Tragic fairy tales


April 4, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

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Indian history is full of moving love stories with tragic endings

Like any other nation, Indian culture too is full of love stories, especially ones where lovers meet a tragic end. Perhaps the tragedy has made these tales evergreen.

If we flip through the pages of Indian history, we’ll find many love stories that’ll leave a deep impact on their readers. Full of drama and twists, the stories often have tragedy as their key element. Here are some of those.


Indian love stories

Mesmerised by his stories of bravery, princess Sanyogita wrote a letter to Rajput king Prithiviraj Chauhan expressing her feelings| Photo Credit: blogspot.com

When the stories of the heroic expeditions of Prithiviraj Chauhan, a gallant Rajput king from the 12th century, fell on the ears of his enemy Jai Chand’s daughter princess Sanyogita, she couldn’t resist falling for him and penned a letter expressing her desire to marry him. As per a legend, one of the painters from Chauhan’s courtyard, Panna Ray visited the princess and showed her the gallant king’s portrait. Similarly, on returning, Ray painted a beautiful portrait of Sanyogita for Chauhan. The two fell head over heels for each other.

However, a dramatic twist awaited their love saga. The girl’s father, Jai Chand, arranged a swayamvar, an ancient practice in which princesses got to choose their husband from a group of aspiring grooms selected by the parents. However, purposely, due to rivalry, he did not invite Chauhan on the occasion and instead placed a statue of him at the entrance as a doorkeeper. However, Sanyogita garlanded the statue, behind which Chauhan had been hiding and he took his newly-wedded wife away. Years later, to avenge himself, Jai Chand collaborated with Muslim ruler Mohammad Ghori and took custody of Chauhan through treachery. Sanyogita killed herself after Chauhan’s defeat.


Heer-Ranjha is one of the most tragic love stories from Punjabi literature| Photo Credit: famouspunjabi.com

The tragic love story of Heer and Ranjha is one of the most popular Punjabi folk tales. After the demise of his father and ill-treatment from his cousins, Ranjha had to shift from his native village Takht Hazara, in search of a job. Ranjha, however, never left his flute and used to play melodious tunes. His search for a job landed him in the city of Jhang beside Chenab River. It is here that he met the breath-takingly beautiful Heer, who fell for him too. Heer hired him as a buffalo herder for his father and the two used to meet secretly in jungles. Soon their meetings made for hot gossips across the region and Heer was married off to a wealthier old man. Ranjha turned into a Jogi (recluse) and left the village.

However, soon the couple realised that they couldn’t survive without each other and Ranjha came back to the village. The two decided to marry, but the fate had something else in store for them. Heer’s uncle served her poisoned food before the marriage, consuming which she died. When Ranjha arrived at the scene, he voluntarily ate the same food and breathed his last. There are many narratives of this love story, some of which claim that the two had secretly tied a knot much earlier in a secret affair.


Indian love stories

Peshwa Baji Rao married Mastani despite his family’s opposition due to her mysterious family history

Set in the 16th century Maratha kingdom, the love story of Peshwa Baji Rao and Mastani had a rugged fate. Bajirao served as the military general of Maratha empire’s fourth ruler Chhatrapati Sahuji. Rao, fell head over heels for Mastani, whose origins are debatable till date. While some believe her to be Hyderabad’s Nizam’s daughter, some claim her to be the daughter of a Hindu Maharaj and his Persian wife. The second narrative says that Maharaja Chhhatrasaal on being attacked by the Mughal general Mohammad Khan Bangash, wrote to Baji Rao for help and when they defeated Bangash, Chhatrsaal offered Baji Rao a marriage proposal for his daughter, Mastani. The same narrative was adapted in Sanjay Leela Bahansali’s 2015 film Bajirao Mastani. On contrary to this, some narratives, call her  a dancer from a Nizam’s court. Nevertheless, Rao felt an instant connection with her and married the gorgeous lady. Their marriage was accepted neither by their families, nor the society. Rao’s inclination towards Mastani, and her active participation in state affairs made for his first wife Kashibai’s jealousy and sown seeds of family politics. A few years later, when Baji Rao was killed in a war, Mastani committed suicide.

Sohni- Mahiwal 

Indian love stories

Sohni would cross Chenab river each night, with the help of a baked clay pot, to meet Mahliwal: Photo Credit: famouspunjabi.com

Another tragic love tale from Punjab is that of a potter’s daughter and rich businessman who later turned into a buffalo herder to meet his beloved. In a village across the banks of Chenab river, the craft of pottery was very popular. Tula, one of the potters, had a beautiful daughter who used to draw floral designs on the pots. She would go to the banks to collect these pots from traders. One such trader, Izzat Baig, who had come from Uzbekistan on business, instantly fell for Sohni’s captivating beauty. He would buy posts everyday to fake reasons for meeting Sohni. Soon he started working as a Mahiwal (buffalo herder) at her place. Sohni too, over time, fell for the handsome trader. Soon However, rumours of this affair, spread across the village like wildfire and Tula decided to marry his daughter within his community to avoid a bad name.

However, the two didn’t give up. Even after her marriage, Sohni would cross the Chenab each night with the help of a baked pot. When her sister-in-law got to know about this, she replaced her baked pot with the one made of unbaked clay. As the pot dissolved, Sohni too drowned to death. On seeing his beloved dying, Baig, too, committed suicide by jumping in the deep river.



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