Story#3: Mrignayani

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Legend or Myth

There is a thin line between myths and legends, and often the truth gets lost while traveling through time and ages. But sometimes history does create magic, stories stranger than fiction, ordinary lives no less than legends. The hills of Gwalior, its magnificent fort has witnessed many such legends. But one legend stands out of others, The Tale of Queen Mrignayani, whose impressions are still alive within these ramparts of Gujari Mahal.

Ninni, too was fond of these stories, their legends, and mythologies. She'd never sleep until she had listened to many such stories from her grandmother, and wouldn't wake up unless she had lived every one of them in her dreams. She did not know then, that she is going to live one such legend herself, and many grandmothers would tell her stories for centuries.

Niini to Mrignayani

Sometimes, she'd look back into her life, her journey from a farmer girl to the Queen of Gwalior, and thought of almost magical story of her life. She used to think of that day often, the day everything changed. She wondered if it is due to the time elapsed or her age, but every memory of that day felt like a dream. She did not remember now why she even went into that forest, but the images of those buffaloes were pretty clear. And what followed, how she chased them for hours, wandering into the forest like never before. How her path crossed with that horseman. She laughed at herself now, remembering how quickly she aimed her spear at him, threatening him to run away. But how could she know that the horseman was ManSingh Tomar, the King of Gwalior, that their fate were so entangled with each other. That there was another life waiting for her to live: The life of Mrignayani.

Three Promises

It was magic indeed that united them, but it wasn't that kept them together, it was sheer force of love and will. The king already had eight wives, but that didn't stop him from marrying the love of his life. He fought his family, his own ministers, and his own kingdom for her. And it wasn't easy for her too, to leave her house, the farms and forests she played in her entire life. So she put three demands before the king: to never practice purdah, to always be with him even in a battlefield, and to have water from Rai river of her village. Mansingh accepted all of them and kept all of his promises.

Gujari Mahal

Although the King accepted all of her promises and gave her the status of Queen of Gwalior, his other wives never accepted Mrignayani because of her lower caste. Seeing this, Mansingh built a palace for her, which later came to know as Gujari Mahal, depicting the community she came from.

With time, kingdoms built and lost, but the tale of Mrignayani goes on, in the courtyards of Gujari Mahal, in the folklores of grandmothers. In her palace, Mriganayani would sing sometimes, sometimes dance, and sometimes she would just sit at a Jharokha overlooking the valley below, feeling the wind sweeping her face, and thinking about the legend of her life, about the magic of time.

Gujari Mahal is a small palace located at the foothills of Gwalior Fort. According to the stone inscriptions found in the Palace, it was built in 1486-1516 AD by then king of Gwalior ManSingh Tomar, and had a canal from Rai river at village Maihar. The palace was built for the 9th wife of the king, Mrignayani. Historians, however, have some disagreement with the popular legend of Mrignayani and it is not clear under which circumstances they got married. But the king did build a separate palace for her along with the canal from her village and they both died at battlefield while taking a defensive battle against Mughal forces.

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