The Immortals of Meluha is the first novel of the Shiva trilogy series by Amish Tripathi. The story is set in the land of Meluha and starts with the arrival of the Tibetan tribal Shiva. The Meluhan belief that Shiva is their fabled saviour Neelkanth, is confirmed when he consumes the Somras, a legendary healing potion, which turns his throat blue. Shiva decides to help the Meluhans in their war against the Chandravanshis, who had joined forces with a cursed group called Nagas. However, in his journey and the resulting fight that ensues, Shiva learns how his choices actually reflected who he aspires to be and how it led to dire consequences.
Tripathi had initially decided to write a book on the philosophy of evil, but was dissuaded by his family members, so he decided to write a book on Shiva, one of the Hindu Gods. He decided to base his story on the fundamental concept that all Gods were once human beings; it was their deeds in the human life that made them famous as Gods. After finishing writing The Immortals of Meluha, Tripathi faced rejection from many publication houses. Ultimately when his agent decided to publish the book himself, Tripathi embarked on a promotional campaign. It included posting a live-action video on YouTube, and making the first chapter of the book available as a free digital download, to entice readers.
Ultimately, when the book was published in February 2010, it went on to become a huge commercial success. It had to be reprinted a number of times to keep up with the demand. Tripathi even changed his publisher and hosted a big launch for the book in Delhi. It was critically appreciated by some Indian reviewers, others noted that Tripathi’s writing tended to lose focus at some parts of the story. As of January 2013, The Immortals of Meluha, and its sequel, The Secret of the Nagas, have crossed a print run of a million copies. These books have continued to top the bestseller lists of Nielsen BookScan, with the gross retail sales being impressive at ₹22 crore within two years of publishing.
Meluha is a near perfect empire, created many centuries earlier by Lord Ram, one of the greatest kings that ever lived. However
, the once proud empire and its Suryavanshi rulers face severe crisis as its primary river, the revered Saraswati, is slowly drying to extinction. They also face devastating terrorist attacks from the east, the land of the Chandravanshis who have joined forces with the Nagas, a cursed race with physical deformities. The present king of Meluha, Daksha, sends his emissaries to North India in Tibet, to invite the tribes that live there to Meluha. One of those invited are the Gunas, whose chief Shiva is a brave warrior and protector. Shiva accepts the proposal and moves to Meluha with his tribe. They reach the city of Srinagar and are received there by Ayurvati, the Chief of Medicine of the Meluhans. Shiva and his tribe are impressed with the Meluhan way of life. On their first night of stay at Srinagar, the Gunas wake up amid high fever and sweating. The Meluhans, under Ayurvati’s orders, carry on the healing process. However, Ayurvati finds out that Shiva is the only one devoid of these symptoms and that his throat has turned blue. The Meluhans announce Shiva as the Neelkanth, their fabled saviour.
Shiva is then taken to Devagiri, the capital city of Meluha, where he meets King Daksha. While staying there, Shiva and his comrades, Nandi and Veer Bhadra, encounter a mysterious woman, who though very beautiful, has a look of penance on her face. They later come to know that she is Princess Sati, the daughter of Daksha and is a Vikarma, an untouchable in this life due to sins of her past births. Shiva tries to court her, but she rejects his advances. Ultimately Shiva wins her heart and they decide to get married, even though the Vikarma rule prohibits them from doing so. Enraged by the so-called obsolete law, Shiva declares himself as the Neelkanth and swears to dissolve the Vikarma law. Daksha allows Sati to get married to Shiva, amid much joy and happiness.
During his stay in Devagiri, Shiva comes to know of the treacherous wars that the Chandravanshis are carrying on the Meluhans. He also meets Bŗahaspati, the Chief Inventor of the Meluhans. Brahaspati invites Shiva and the royal family on an expedition to Mount Mandar, where the legendary Somras is manufactured using the waters of the Saraswati river. Shiva learns that the potion which made his throat turn blue was actually undiluted Somras, which can be lethal when taken in its pure form. However, Shiva was unaffected, which was the first sign that he was the Neelkanth. He also learns that Somras was the reason why the Meluhans lived for so many years. Brahaspati and Shiva develop a close friendship and the royal family returns to Devagiri. One morning, the whole of Meluha wakes up to loud noises coming from Mount Mandar. Shiva and his troops reach the hill to find out that a large part of Mandar has been blasted off and many of the inventors killed. There is no sign of Brahaspati, but Shiva finds the insignia of the Nagas, confirming their involvement in the treacherous wars of the Chandravanshis.
Enraged by this, Shiva declares war on the Chandravanshis. With consultation from the Devagiri Chief Minister Kanakhla and the Head of Meluhan Army, Parvateshwar, Shiva advances towards Dharmakhet, the border area of Swadweep, the land of the Chandravanshis. A fierce battle is fought between the Meluhans and the Swadweepans in which the Meluhans prevail. The Chandravanshi king is captured and brought in front of Daksha. He becomes enraged upon seeing the Neelkanth and is taken away. The Chandravanshi princess, Anandmayi, tells them that they too have a similar legend that the Neelkanth will come forward to save their land by launching an assault against the ‘evil’ Suryavanshis. Hearing this, Shiva is dumbfounded and utterly distressed. With Sati he visits the famous Ram temple of Ayodhya, the capital of Swadweep. There he meets the priest from whom he comes to know about the karma, his fate, and his choices in life, which will guide him. As Shiva comes out of the temple, he notices Sati standing out of the temple waiting for him and the naga(who attacked them in Meru) standing near a tree. The book ends with Shiva charging to save Sati.
- Shiva – The main character in the story. He is a Tibetan immigrant to Meluha and the chief of the Guna tribe. On arriving in Meluha and consuming the Somras, his throat turns blue making him the Neelkanth of the Meluhan legend, which speaks of the appearance of Neelkanth as a destroyer of evil. The Meluhans end up believing that Shiva would be their saviour.
- Sati – A Meluhan princess, she is the daughter of King Daksha. Shiva falls in love with her but cannot marry her because of a law that considers her to be a Vikarma, an untouchable. Vikarmas are people who bear misfortunes in this life due to sins of their past births. She is a skilled swords-woman and is very brave since childhood. During the course of novel she marries Shiva and bears his child.
- Nandi – A captain in the Meluhan army. A loyal devotee of Shiva, who is often considered for his opinion and suggestions by Shiva.
- Veerbhadra – A captain of Shiva’s army and his close childhood friend. He was later renamed as Veer Bhadra, a title earned by once defeating a tiger single-handedly. He also asks Shiva’s permission, the leader of Gunas, to marry Krithika.
- Bŗahaspati – The chief Meluhan scientist who becomes Shiva’s good friend. Though he does not believe the legend of the Neelkanth, he believes that Shiva is capable of taking Meluha to its new glory.
- Daksha – The King of the Meluhans, he is appreciative of every effort that Shiva does to save his country.
- Kanakhala – The chief minister of Daksha’s royal court, Kanakhla is an extremely learned and intelligent woman, who gets into verbal conflicts with Parvateshvar regarding Shiva.
- Parvateshvar – Head of Meluhan Army and a Suryavanshi, Parvateshvar is critical of Shiva’s ways with the Meluhans, and is a dedicated man to Daksha. He eventually becomes an avid follower of Shiva as he realizes that Shiva could actually lead them to victory and finish Lord Ram’s Unfinished Task. He is a good follower of Lord Ram
- Ayurvati – The Chief of Medicine, Ayurvati is another intelligent and revered woman, who is capable of curing any disease. She is the first one to realize that Shiva is the “Neelkanth”, their savior.
- Suryavanshis – The Suryavanshis are followers of Shri Ram and the Solar Calendar and try to lead a life that is as ideal as possible. The Suryavanshis believe in Satya,Dharma, Maan—truth, duty, and honor.
- Chandravanshis – The Chandravanshis are followers of the Lunar Calendar. Traditionally the Chandravanshis and Suryavanshis are enemies.They are democratic dynasty who believes in Shringar,Saundrya and Swatantrata.