The Mughal emperor Akbar and his wife, Mariam-uz-Zamani(Harka Bai), had a son named Prince Salim (later Emperor Jahangir). He was a spoiled and rude boy and because of this, Akbar sent his son away to the army for fourteen years to learn the discipline required to rule the empire. Finally, Akbar allowed this son to return to the main palace in Lahore. Since this day was one of great celebration, the harem of Akbar decided to hold a great Mujra (dance performance) by a beautiful girl named Nadira, daughter of Noor Khan Argun. Since she was an exceptional beauty, she got access to Akbar’s court and was later honored with the epithet of Anarkali by Akbar, which literary means, pomegranate blossom.
During her first and famous Mujra in Lahore Prince Salim fell in love with her. Anarkali was not of noble birth and hence, she kept trying to resist the prince’s attemps to woo her. However, it later became apparent that she was also in love with him. Soon, they both began to see each other although the matter was kept quiet. Later, Prince Salim informed his father, Akbar, of his intention to marry Anarkali and make her the Empress. The problem was that Anarkali, despite her fame in Lahore, was a dancer and a maid and not of noble blood. So Akbar (who was sensitive about his own mother, Hamida Banu Begum, being a commoner) forbade Salim from seeing Anarkali again. Prince Salim and Akbar had an argument that later became very serious after Akbar ordered the arrest of Anarkali and placed her in one of the jail dungeons in Lahore.
After many attempts, Salim and one of his friends helped Anarkali escape and hid her near the outskirts of Lahore. Then, a furious Prince Salim organised an army (from those loyal to him during his fourteen years there) and began an attack on the city; Akbar, being the emperor, had a much larger army and quickly defeated Prince Salim’s force. Akbar gave his son two choices: either to surrender Anarkali to them or to face the death penalty. Prince Salim, out of his true love for Anarkali, chose the death penalty. Anarkali, however, unable to allow Prince Salim to die, came out of hiding and approached the Mughal emperor, Akbar. She asked him if she could be the one to give up her life in order to save Prince Salim, and after Akbar agreed, she asked for just one wish, which was to spend just one pleasant night with Prince Salim.
After her night with Salim, Anarkali drugged Salim with a pomegranate blossom. The guards came in the morning to drag the girl away. After a very tearful goodbye to the unconscious Salim, she left the royal palace with guards. She was taken to the area near present-day Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore, where a large ditch was made for her. She was strapped to a board of wood and lowered in it by soldiers belonging to Akbar. They closed the top of the large ditch with a brick wall and buried her alive.
Another version of this story states that the Emperor Akbar extracted a promise from Anarkali that she would never contact Prince Salim again and let he escape through a secret tunnel.
Edited by Elan