The land of Rajasthan is famous its tales of valour and sacrifice, proudly narrated to this very day. These stories explore themes of love, kinship, patriotism, strength and integrity in times of war and struggle. While some narrate the dedication of a King to his men and Kingdom, many famous stories narrate of the great loves from the era gone by. One such story where love trumps all is that of Narwar King Salhakumar, famously known as Dhola and Poongal Princess Marvani, known as Maru, in a the story of ‘Dhola-Maru’.
The story begins with two Kingdoms being joined by the child-marriage of Narwar Prince Salhakumar and Poogal Princess Marvani, mere toddlers. The two would live apart, oblivious to the other, arranged to come together once they were adults. However, the death of King Nal, the father of Prince Salhakumar or Dhola led to his early coronation and his second marriage to Princess Malwani. Oblivious to his first marriage and deeply engrossed in earning a place amongst his father’s subjects to uphold the honour of his deceased father, Dhola continued to live his life peacefully.
The Poongal Kingdom however, awaited the Royal spouse of their beloved Princess, who had grown into a beautiful woman. The parents of Maru sent many messages to Narwar, requesting the King to take his queen home. Talks of Maru’s beauty had reached far and wide with many Princes and Kings vying for her hand in marriage. These stories of Princess Maru’s beauty and her marriage to Dhola reached Princess Malwani as well, who out of jealousy ordered all messengers and messages from the Poongal kingdom to the Narwar King, killed and intercepted. Malwani was afraid of losing Salhakumar to Maru and determined to not let him remember his first wife.
But as fate would have it, the beautiful Princess Maru began having dreams of Prince Salhakumar, her beloved and awaited his arrival. When her parents saw her sadness and desperation they forged a plan guaranteed to succeed. The royals sent a folk singer, bearing couplets written by Maru to be sung in Maru Raag, from Poongal to visit Narwar. The folk singer faced many difficulties but eventually managed to reach the King’s palace, unharmed and sung the couplets loudly in Raga Malhar, amidst stormy rain showers. The melodious singing triggered the Prince's memory, reminding him of his first wife and their childhood promise. Shocked and elated, determined to right all wrongs the Prince decided to travel to Poongal and bring his waiting Queen home. However, each time he attempted to leave on a journey his second wife Malwani managed to delay his visits with excuses, making him stay.
Finally, one day Dhola set out on his fastest camel, accompanied by the singer, crossed the desert and reached Poongal to claim his beautiful bride. On seeing her beloved Maru was ecstatic and the two spent many happy days in Poongal before Dhola whisked his Queen back to Narwar.
As the young couple set out towards home, Maru was bitten by a snake and legend has it that Shiva and Parvati, seeing the dedication of the couple revived Maru so she could be with Dhola once more. However, this was not the only obstacle they would face. Another Nobel, Prince Umar Sumar was keen to marry Maru and foiled a plan to kill Dhola, kidnap Maru and marry her. The young couple were travelling by camel and were accompanied by the folk singer and his wife from Poongal. On their journey the travel party was greeted by Umar Sumar and his men who disguised as a travellers relaxing during the journey began a conversation with the travellers from Poongal. Sumar’s men slowly began to intoxicate Dhola, while Maru sat atop the camel, waiting to start the journey onto Narwar.
The singers wife overheard the conspiracy to kill Dhola and promptly warned Maru as she sat waiting on the fast animal. The brave Maru grabbed the reins and fled, instigating Dhola to jump into action and chase after her. When the shocked Prince tried to stop her, she screamed of the danger and asked him to jump onto the camel. He did at once, cheating death and leaving Umar Sumar and his party in the dust. The young couple then continued their journey, reaching Narwar and living happily eve after, with Malwani accepting Maruvani as well.
This loving couple is known as Dhola Maru in the history of Rajasthan. Since times immemorial songs and couplets are sung in their names, telling the story of their difficult love.