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Resurrecting India's Forgotten Heroines: A Review of 'Heroines of History' by Nikita Puri

Heroines of History: Stories of India’s Princesses

Author: Nikita Puri

Genre: Non Fiction

Published by Rupa Publications

Pages: 240

MRP: Rs. 295/-

Acknowledgement: Thank you @rupa_publications for a review copy of the book.

Heroines of History: Stories of India’s Princesses by Nikita Puri is a book that celebrates the lives and achievements of eight remarkable women who shaped the history of India. The book is a collection of biographical sketches that span different eras and regions, from ancient Kashmir to modern Bengal .

The author, Nikita Puri, is an award-winning journalist who has spent over 12 years writing about people and places, science and environment, and arts and culture. Her understanding of India is shaped by a childhood marked by constant change, moving from city to city and discovering the country through local food, customs, and languages .

The book is a well-researched and engaging read that brings to light the stories of women who have often been overlooked or forgotten by mainstream history. The author has done a commendable job of presenting each case’s facts and context while highlighting the challenges and struggles these women face in a patriarchal society

The stories in Heroines of History are inspiring tales of courage, resistance, and persistence. The women we meet in this book did incredible things. As poets, writers, skilled administrators, and warriors, each managed to change the world, rewriting the rules for all who followed. The book aims to be a portal, a passage through time, to rediscover those stories across time and geography. Women of noble blood, these princesses turned into heroines and braved the storms of their life and the times they lived in.

The book consists of eight stories. In each chapter, Puri shares some history about that particular woman in the beginning and in the end a box sharing some important information. Each story inspired me in its way but Sophia’s story touched my heart. The granddaughter of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is the reason we women can cast our vote. She fought so that we get the right to vote. Other princesses such as Noor, a descendant of Tipu Sultan, couldn’t bear to tell a lie and yet circumstances demanded she become a spy during World War II. Kashmir’s Didda shaped a dynasty while Shehzaadi Gulbadan documented stories from Mughal India in ways no one ever did. In the south, Velu Nachiyar won her kingdom back from the British.

Overall, Heroines of History: Stories of India’s Princesses is an excellent read for anyone interested in Indian history or women’s studies. The book provides an insightful look into the lives of eight remarkable women who have contributed so much to society but whose testimonies were lost over time. The stories are well-researched, and Puri has done a commendable job in bringing them to us.

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