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The story dates back to the Fifteenth Century A.D. in the State of Rajputana.
At that time India was frequently invaded by foreign invaders namely the Pathans, Moghuls and the Turks, to name a few. All these people lived in barren countries and therefore they desired to invade India and loot its riches as India was flourishing at that time. King Devraj and his subjects were living in the fort of Devgarh on a hilltop, somewhere in the State of Rajputana. The fort was strong and beautiful made of red and yellow sandstone. Its length was 6 km and its width was 4 km. Around 10,000 people lived in the fort consisting mainly of soldiers, peasants, mercantile community, government officials and their families. All the daily necessities of life were readily available in the fort itself and the people were very happy and content with whatever they had.
Shambhu was the third child of his parents. He belonged to a rich mercantile family. In one of the marriages he came across a Brahmin girl by the name of Rukmani and fell in love with her. Rukmani also liked him but wondered whether her parents would ever approve this alliance, as Shambhu came from a lower community. Shambhu on the other hand was very confident that he would eventually win over her from her parents as he thought that one day he would amass a huge wealth and then would approach her parents for her hand and it would be difficult for them to refuse him at that juncture. So with that sole objective in mind, Shambhu started doing his business with extra devotion and dedication.
One day King Devraj summoned his ministers and chieftains and told them that Ajmal Khan, the Great Moghul invader, with a huge army of 50,000 soldiers were only 20 km away from the fort and has sent a message advising King Devraj to immediately surrender and become his subordinate, otherwise the fort will be seized and destroyed and in that case the King will be solely responsible for the consequences. King Devraj wanted to know the reaction of his people before he could communicate his decision to Ajmal Khan. It was unanimously decided to fight and defend the motherland, as the word surrender had no place in the dictionary of the Rajputs. The next day the King alongwith an army of 5,000 soldiers heavily armed left the premises of the fort to fight the intruders and stop them from advancing further. The Rajputs were greatly outnumbered but they fought bravely and were able to kill around 25,000 Moghuls in the fierce battle that lasted for many days and in the process also lost around 4,500 soldiers. King Devraj was wounded and so were some of his generals and it was difficult to withstand the resistance any further and with no other option left, King Devraj retreated back to Devgarh with his wounded soldiers of around 500. All the doors of the fort were closed permanently thereafter. Archers were immediately positioned on the roof top all along the fort. In no matter of time, Ajmal Khan was able to surround the entire fort and tried to break-open the doors, but failed. With a huge casualties on his side, Ajmal Khan was even more desperate and determined to seize and capture the fort at the earliest. But for that he had to wait for another day as the sun began to set and nightfall had crept in. Devraj summoned his remaining generals and chieftains and decided the next course of action. They had to safeguard Devgarh at all cost as they didn’t want it to fall into the hands of the enemies. Just then the queen came out with a sword in her hand and vowed to fight the enemy and was followed by thousands of women folks. The peasants also joined the fray with axes and hand made knifes. No one was willing to kneel before the enemy.
But Shambhu had other thing in his mind. He was not at all a brave lad and further more it was suicidal to fight the ruthless army of Ajmal Khan who eagerly waited for the sun to rise the next morning. Shambhu also wondered that his years of waiting and his dream of being united with Rukmani will all go in vain if he stayed and fought back. So he decided to run away from the battlefield. He might be called a coward by this act of his, but at least he would continue living with his soulmate and fulfill his long cherished dream, he wondered. But the question that arose in his mind was as to how to convince Rukmani of his plans. With time running out, he went near the house of Rukmani and whistled three times which was a signal used by him earlier to call her out. After some time Rukmani came out and Shambhu explained in details his escape plan. He told her that when he was young and used to play hide and seek with his friends, he came across a secret tunnel beneath the main water reservoir in the fort which led its way up-to the bank of the river in the valley. It was also decided that at midnight when everybody would fall asleep they would meet at a designated temple and from there onwards proceed to the tunnel and reach the river and from there-on they would run away to safety.
Shambhu came back to his house. All his family members sat for dinner, may be their last one together, he wondered. Shambhu eagerly looked at his parents and then towards his brothers and sisters. He knew that he would never be able to see them again. When midnight came and everybody was fast asleep, Shambhu touched the feet of his sleeping parents, took their blessings and set-off for his journey. He was carrying whatever money he had accumulated all these years, a little clothing, food and water and his sword and dragger. He reached the temple at the designated time and waited eagerly for Rukmani to arrive. But hours passed, there was no sign of Rukmani. Shambhu didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t understand why Rukmani was taking such a long time. Has Rukmani changed her mind, he wondered. Alas! What would happen then. Time was running out, only a few hours were left for the first light of the morning and Shambhu began to panic. He was almost about to leave when he heard the voice of Rukmani. She was wearing a white dress and there was no happiness on her face. Shambhu said nothing. He held her hand and asked her to hurry-up. They reached the entrance of the tunnel. It was pitch dark inside. Shambhu made a torch of fire, held it in one hand and held Rukmani on the other and started for the journey. The tunnel was suffocating and frightening, but at least there was hope on the other side which gave them courage to proceed further. In the midway Rukmani asked Shambhu that she preferred to rest a little and asked him to give her some water as she was thirsty. Shambhu was in the process of giving her some water when he noticed that Rukmani secretly took a tube from her pocket and put it in her mouth. When he came nearer, to his astonishment, he discovered that it was poison that she had swallowed-in. Water fell from his hand. With tears falling from his cheeks he asked Rukmani why did she take such a drastic step to which she replied:-
“I am sorry that I didn’t have the courage to fight the enemy and also I didn’t want to run away in this fashion, so I consumed poison as there was no other option left. I am sorry that I couldn’t be united with you in this life.”
She could speak no more. Shambhu begged her not to leave him as he could never ever imagine a life without her. But all was in vain. The poison had already done its effect. In a moment her face turned pale and her body became icy cold and she collapsed. Shambhu cried and roared like a lion. Rukmani had already left her. Shambhu clinched the dead body in his arms and stood there motionless for hours. His mind was disturbed when he heard sounds of fighting and screaming coming into the tunnel. He realized that the enemy had penetrated the fort and a fierce battle was going on. He took out his sword, bid farewell to Rukmani and started running towards the fort to fight the enemy as there was no other objective left in his life and further he had already lost his beloved and there was nothing more to lose further!!!