In the heart of the city of Lahore there is an ordinary tomb of Mughal era. The area in which the tomb is situated is popular as Anarkali bazaar and the tomb is known as Anarkali’s tomb. Inside there is an sarcophagus. On that sarcophagus two lines have been inscribed in Persian. Those lines have been translated into English as:
Could I behold the face of my beloved once more,
I would thank God until the day of resurrection.
Below these lines three words, Majnun Salim Akbar, have been inscribed.
Who was this Anarkali? To answer this question is a herculean task. It is because it is a very controversial question. People, scholars and historians are divided in their opinions. Common people in Lahore believe that there was a beautiful court dancer named Anarkali. Her real name was Nadira Begum or Sari-un- Nissa. This Anarkali fell in deep love with Mughal prince. His name was Salim. Later on he became popular as Jahangir. Then Salim’s father was Emperor. His name was Akbar, the great. He disapproved this relationship. By the order of Akbar, Anarkali was buried alive in the walls of Lahore Fort. When Jahangir became the emperor he constructed a tomb in her memory.
But Anarkali finds no mention either in Jahangir’s Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri nor in Abul Fazal's Akbarnama. Abdulla Chaganti and Muhammad Baquir, Lahore historians, declared this story as hearsay. In fact, the story of Anarkali finds its origin in the accounts of some English travellers who travelled Lahore. These travellers were William Finch, Edward Terry and Herbert Bishop. These travellers mentioned the story of Anarkali in their accounts on the basis of hearsay. So the story of Anarkali appears as fiction.