The lame Princess of Lohara was destined for greatness...
Despised by her father for her handicap, Didda survived only because of the prediction made by an astrologer. She spent her growing years weighed down by the taunts of the King, knowing her future was grim. So when Didda was married off to Kshemagupta, the ruler of Kashmira and a man of mediocre ability, she accepted her fate as his second wife and became Rani Didda of Kashmira.
After Kshemgupta’s untimely death, Didda defied tradition and established herself as regent to her young son, Abhimanyu. She held the position through the deaths of her son and three grandsons, and eventually crowned herself the ruler of Kashmira. During her nearly five decade reign, she brought stability to an unruly kingdom. She secured her position by destroying all those whose loyalty she suspected, by means both foul and fair . Didda held her own in a gender biased society. Her determination, intelligence and shrewdness made her one of the greatest rulers of medieval Kashmir.
And yet, not many know of her accomplishments. Which is why Devika Rangachari's 'Queen Of Ice' is a riveting read - a beautiful combination of history and fiction. The book features two parallel narratives - Didda's and that of her trusted aide and porter, Valga. Given her proximity to the Queen, Valga was witness to the tragedies and joys in Didda's life. She provides a softer voice to Didda's more commanding one. What's interesting to note here is that Devika developed Valga's character on the basis of a single line mentioned in the Rajatarangini, which is an account of the history of Kashmir written in the 12th century.
The cover features an expressionless Didda against the backdrop of a snow covered valley and the 'Ice' in the title could easily be a reference to her nature as much as it is to her surroundings. Given it's content, the book would cater to a slightly mature audience. It's gripping, quick paced and would definitely have you looking up more information on Didda, once you're done reading it.