In the village of Lodrawa in the northwestern Sindh region of Jaisalmer
existed a luxurious palace by the name of Kak.
People considered it an epitome of contemporary architecture.
The legendary palace was home to Moomal and her sisters.
Moomal was believed to be the most beautiful woman of her era.
Many were enamoured by her beauty and grace,
but none had managed to win her heart.
She wished her life partner to be as intelligent as he was strong.
To win Moomal’s heart, people had to navigate and survive
the various traps, puzzles and labyrinths
set up by Moomal’s sisters at the entrance of Kak Palace.
No one had yet succeeded at the test and made it past the entrance.
And then there was Rana Mahendra Sodha of Umerkot.
Rana Mahendra was born to Rajput nobility.
Over and above possessing an attractive personality,
Rana Mahendra was an excellent swordsman and an intelligent man.
Once, while out on a hunt with some friends,
Rana Mahendra unknowingly had ventured close to a river
that was near Moomal’s house.
So close that Moomal could see him hunt from Kak Palace.
When the hunt proved to be fruitless,
Rana Mahendra decided to rest for a while.
But his siesta was broken by a faint humming.
He saw an attendant standing before him with refreshments.
The attendant was sent by Moomal
who also delivered a message from the maiden
that the nobleman could rest in Kak Palace if he wished to.
When Rana Mahendra walked through the entrance of Kak Palace,
he braved the puzzles, traps and labyrinth without hesitation
and effortlessly reached the heart of the palace.
Moomal was impressed with Rana Mahendra’s brains and brawn.
Moomal welcomed him, and they spent considerable time together.
In the morning, Rana Mahendra departed for Umerkot,
but his heart was in Lodrawa.
Rana Mahendra could not think of anything else but Moomal.
As soon as he returned to Umerkot,
he would prepare for his next visit to Jaisalmer.
People reported that
Rana Mahendra roamed senseless, lost in Moomal’s thoughts, singing…
“Come, my beloved Moomal, let me take you to my land.”
A song that soon became a part of the region’s folklore.
Once when he was about to leave for Jaisalmer,
he discovered his camel Cheetal’s legs were wounded.
Mahendra was deeply disappointed
because he had promised to meet Moomal that night.
Seeing Mahendra upset,
his friends arranged for another camel.
And Mahendra started for Jaisalmer immediately.
The mood was glum back in Kak Palace too.
After waiting for Mahendra all day,
Moomal grew more dispirited with every passing moment.
On her request, her sister Soomal dressed up as Mahendra
to cheer her up.
After mirthfully passing the rest of the evening,
the tired sisters retired on Moomal’s bed.
Mahendra was still quite far from Jaisalmer
because the camel was not as fast as Cheetal.
Mahendra kept whipping the beast to make it go faster.
In the darkness of the night, he did not realise
that he had gone off course towards Barmer instead of Jaisalmer.
The next morning, when Mahendra arrived in Moomal’s chamber,
he saw another man lying next to her in bed.
The sight pulled the rug out from under his feet.
He took off immediately.
Rana Mahendra vowed to never see Moomal’s face again.
In the heat of the moment,
Rana Mahendra unwittingly left his cane in Moomal’s chamber.
When Moomal woke up, her eyes fell on the fallen cane.
She realised that Rana Mahendra had misjudged the situation.
The thought of his grief broke Moomal’s heart.
She wrote Rana Mahendra many letters.
She sent him many messages
and waited days on end for him,
but Rana Mahendra didn’t show up.
Separated from Rana Mahendra, Moomal lost her will to live,
and she jumped into a burning pyre.
As soon as he received the news, Rana Mahendra rushed to Moomal
but it was too late.
Mahendra jumped into the same blaze and sacrificed his life.
Moomal and Mahendra’s story is a tragic one.
Even today, it makes people sigh regretfully,
thinking, ‘If only Rana Mahendra had made it to Jaisalmer in time.’
Like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,
Moomal and Mahendra breathed their last together.
Perhaps they would prefer it that way.
But the fragrance of their love lingers in the air of Lodrawa
as if it wasn’t too long ago.
Their love is still alive in people’s memories as a folk song.
Every love story does not make history,
but love plays an important role in every historic story.
Breaking customs, traditions and society’s norms of the day,
this is the story of Muhammad Quli Qutb
and Rani Bhagmati.