Unravel India's timeless beauty

Feb 03, 2012, 06:55 IST | Surekha S

The historic character of Amrapali, considered India's most beautiful woman, has after many years caught the attention of a young Indian author. Anurag Anand in his recently released book, The Legend of Amrapali, tries to demystify this enchantress in a captivating story that combines fact with fiction

Yesteryear actress Vyjayanthimala had first captured the magnetism of Amrapali in the film of the same name, back in 1966. Post that Hema Malini tried to portray the woman's charm in a television series.

Anurag Anand's version is a refreshing take on one of India's
most beautiful women

After many years, Amrapali has once again come in the limelight through author Anurag Anand's recently released book, The Legend of Amrapali.

Amrapali, considered one of the most beautiful women to have emerged out of the Indian subcontinent, was a Nagarvadhu (literally translates to bride of the city), or the royal courtesan of the city of Vaishali, in 500 BC.
Though not much has been documented about her, Anurag Anand has weaved a fictional tale with the little available facts, to produce a captivating account, which could very well have been her own story.

The author explains in a detailed account why this beautiful girl, who was found under a mango tree (hence the name Amrapali), went on to become the Nagarvadhu of the city.
Though, it is popularly believed that Amrapali became the Nagarvadhu to prevent all the men in the city from fighting with each other to make her their wives, Anand has weaved a different story to explain this.

In Anand's story, young Amrapali is in love with Pushpakumar, a friend she grew up with. She grows up not only receiving the education that was restricted to just boys but also studying the arts and crafts.

She is adept in dancing and soon comes to be known as one of the most enchanting performers the city has ever witnessed. The king of Vaishali, Manudeva, sees her dancing and captivated by the beauty, wants to make her his queen.

When her father refuses the King and decides to give his daughter to her lover instead, the King hatches a plot and gets the lover killed.

Then by a popular vote, he proclaims Amrapali as the Nagarvadhu of the city, a provision that was there at that time. Amrapali, who starts living as the Nagarvadhu, finally hatches a political ploy to dethrone the king and avenges her plight.

The book takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the life of Amrapali, as the incidents unfold one after the other just like a movie. If you love fictional tales set in ancient history, The Legend of Amrapali should hold good. 

The Legend Of Amrapali, Anurag Anand, Srishti Publishers and Distributors, Rs 200. Available at leading bookstores.

Also Read
Music lovers can pick up the Raga 'n Josh by Sheila Dhar, which has been re-released recently. The book is a beautiful journey of Indian classical music through the eyes of musician Sheila Dhar.

In this autobiographical book, Dhar recounts many instances of her life as also the anecdotes she has shared with great musical legends including Begum Akhtar, Siddheshwari Bai, Pran Nath and more.

Raga 'n Josh, Sheila Dhar,  Hachette India, Rs 395. Available at leading bookstores.

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