Who exactly was Rani Padmavati, warrior queen or fictional beauty?

There are a number of contesting stories about Padmavati or Padmini. While on the one hand, the Rajput community maintains the sanctity of everything related to her, historians often say that her life was nothing but a poet’s imagination. Recently, the makers of one of the most awaited movies of 2017, ‘Padmavati’, gave its fans a perfect Navratri gift. They released the first look of Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmini.

The photos show Deepika exquisitely dressed in heavy royal outfits with magnificent traditional jewels. With her make-up being on point along with unibrow, the gorgeous actress brings the historic character of Rani Padmavati come alive in the posters. After SLB’s version, fans are curious to see the real photo of the Warrior Queen, Padmavati, who was known for her majestic beauty. Be it her alluring beauty or great sacrifice, Rani Padmavati’s story has always been a matter of great interest to history buffs.

The legend of Rani Padmavati is a tale of lust and war, which unfortunately ended in tragedy. India has seen rise and fall of notable dynasties, great emperors, foreign invaders and heroic warriors. Along with great kings, the history of India also saw the presence of equally memorable, queens. One such queen was Rani Padmini, a legendary 13th-14th-century Indian queen. She was first mentioned in Padmavat, an epic poem written in 1540 CE by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. Written in the Awadhi language, Padmavat narrated the historic invasion of Chittor by Alauddin Khilji. The Muslim ruler of Delhi Sultanate seized the land ruled by Rawal Ratan Singh with intention of capturing his wife, Rani Padmini. Alauddin became obsessed with Padmavati after hearing of her mesmerizing beauty.

According to Padmavati, Padmini was a princess of Singal kingdom (now Sri Lanka). Padmini was believed to be the most beautiful face. She became the Queen of Chittor after Ratan-Sen, the Rajput ruler of the kingdom got married to her after an adventurous quest. The writings also described her as an intelligent and determined warrior queen who her husband freed after he was captured by the Delhi Sultanate forces.

Among the king’s many subjects was Raghav Chetan, a musician in his court. What nobody knew, however, was that Raghav was also a sorcerer. One day, while he was performing sorcery which was considered illegal, he was caught and banished by the king. Enraged at the humiliation, Raghav Chetan started plotting revenge. He went to Delhi and took refuge in the court of Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi. As he gained the Sultan’s trust, he began singing praise of Queen Padmavati’s beauty, thus invoking the Sultan’s curiosity.

Intrigued by the description of Padmavati’s enticing beauty, Alauddin marched to Chittorgarh with his soldiers and set up camp outside the fort. Word was sent to Rawal Ratan Singh that the Sultan of Delhi had come to catch a glimpse of his queen after which he would leave. The request made the King uncomfortable as Rajput custom didn’t allow women to meet strangers. But Rawal Ratan Singh knew that upsetting the Sultan would result in an attack. So, to save his kingdom and his people, he agreed that the Sultan could see his queen. Padmavati didn’t want to have a face-to-face meeting with the Sultan. So mirrors were arranged in the palace in such a way that the Sultan could see the queen’s reflection, without the queen having to meet him in person.

But with just one look at Padmavati’s reflection, the Sultan was smitten by her beauty. He was so captivated that he changed his mind and decided that he would not leave without the queen. As they reached the end gate of the palace, Khilji sensed an opportunity and captured Rawal Ratan Singh. He then sent a message to the palace that if they wanted to see their king alive, Padmavati should accompany him to Delhi. That was when, two loyal generals of the king – Gora and Badal – devised a plan and sent a message to the Sultan that the queen had agreed to go with him.

Alauddin Khilji was enraged when he realised that he had been tricked. This sent him into such a fury that he ordered his army to break into the fort. But the mighty Chittorgarh Fort was impregnable. So, the Sultan’s army laid siege to the fort, cutting off all the supplies. Days went by but the Sultan and his army didn’t budge. Inside the palace, the food, water and other supplies began to run out. Finally, Rawal Ratan Singh decided that the warriors would face the huge army outside. The valiant Rajput soldiers vowed to sacrifice their lives for their pride and their king. But the small army stood no chance against the well-equipped soldiers outside who were massive in number.

War ensued and Chittorgarh fell. It soon became clear that the Sultan’s victory was inevitable. With their men fighting the enemy, the women of the palace chose to sacrifice their lives over a life of humiliation and ill-treatment at the hands of the Sultan. A huge pyre was lit and the queen and other ladies dressed up in their best clothes. They sang religious songs and prepared themselves to endure the pain as the flames engulfed their bodies. Rani Padmavati jumped first and the rest of the women followed.

When the war ended, the remains of the bodies and the ashes were all that was left. Despite winning the war, Sultan Alauddin Khilji did not succeed in getting what he had fought for.

Apart from Deepika in titular role, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor will be seen in 2017 film Padmavati. Ranveer is essaying the character of Alauddin Khilji while Shahid will be seen in the role of Ratan Sen. The movie also stars Jim Sarbh and Aditi Rao Hydari. Padmavati is expected to hit theatres on December 1.

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