Once upon a time, in 1442 AD, there was this beautiful young girl called Dhon, born on the island of Buruni in Thaa Atoll. Dhon was as gorgeous as a nymph – breathtakingly beautiful. Back in 1442 she was described as a “Faiymini” girl (a word borrowed from India, related to “padmini” which means “extremely beautiful”).

The Maldivian Romeo and Juliet

Dhon was the “perfect beauty” rarely born and hence prone to the “evil eye” and had to be protected from outsiders, leading to her mother Dhon Aisa and father Malima Moosa bringing her up in an underground cellar in their home.

However, their “secret” was discovered when the boy Ali Fulhu saw her in a dream. Ali was a young silversmith, living in Dhaalu atoll on Hulhudheli island. Ali Fulhu thought it was fate and he needed to find this gorgeous girl from his dreams. Thus, he embarks on a journey to Buruni island in search of Dhon Hiyala.

After arriving in Buruni, Ali Fulhu constructed a house and set up work – till he finally meets Dhon. It was like his dream suddenly became real. But even more magical. Dhon Hiyala’s beauty stole his heart. It was as if they were ment for each other. They fall deeply in love, so deeply that they would die for each other.

They secretly got married and started living together. But still only Ali Fulhu, Dhon Hiyala’s parents, and the “Foolhuma” who delivered Dhon Hiyala, knew of Dhon Hiyala’s existence. They all wanted to protect this precious love and the perfect beauty of Dhon.


The dangerous King

Ali Fulhu was not the only one to dream of Dhon Hiyala. Another Ali, “Fageeru Ali” from Shaviyani atoll Lhaimagu island, also dreamt of her and came to Buruni pretending to be a blind man to see the proof of existence of this perfectly beautiful woman. Something was rotten in the state of Buruni. But unfortunately, nobody was suspicious – till it was too late.

When Fageeru Ali met Dhon Hiyala, his fake blindness was exposed, but he managed to escape from Buruni and went to Malé to inform the King that a perfect beauty has been born in Buruni. Fageeru Ali, the informant, was then taken into the King’s grace. Of course, the King needed to see it with his own eyes. If there really was a perfect beauty, he needed to meet her. Even worse, he wanted to maker her his wife – whether she wanted to or not.

The king traveled to Buruni and fate took its turn. Ali and Dhon had no chance – he was too powerful. The King ganve Ali Fulhu over to the mob and forcibly married Dhon Hiyala. What a tragedy?! How was this possible?

In pronouncing the marriage of Dhon Hiyala to the King, the magistrate in Buruni pronounced that “another man’s wife, on no legal grounds, is made the wife of the King” but the King did not mind because Dhon Hiyala became his. His power, his rules, his demands.

The escape

The King forcibly brought Dhon Hiyala to Malé. However, Ali Fulhu was able to escape from the mob and followed them, trying to free his love. Ali and Dhon had such a strong bond. They would not give up fighting for their love.

And there was their chance: Dhon somehow managed to escape from the palace on a Friday when the King was at the mosque attending the Friday prayers. That was Dhon’s and Ali’s moment to run away together and they went back to Buruni.

The King got so angry when he found out that he sent his royal army chasing them. Ali and Dhon did not know where to go or where to hide. They were exhausted! Then Ali was forced to land on a sandbar in the middle of the ocean in search of water for Dhon who was dying of thirst. That was their death sentence. :-(

Till death do us apart

The King found them! Realizing that there was no hope for their love together in this world, the lovers decided to end their lives and jumped off the boat. If they cannot live together, at least their souls should be together – for all eternity.

To date, a grave, where Dhon Hiyala and Ali Fulhu are said to be buried, is marked in Thaa atoll Kandoodhoo island. It is said that Dhon Hiyala and Ali Fulhu met their deaths in 1442 AD, about half a century before Columbus discovered the Americas.

Visit Hulhudheli Island

I heard of this story during my trip to the new lifestyle resort Kandima. One of their local staff members who was brought up in the Maldives told me about it. For this reason, I have expressed interest in visiting one of the islands on which the Dhon Hiyala and Ali Fulhu drama took place: Hulhudheli.

I wanted to learn more about the story and the culture of the people so that Ammadey, one of the local staff memebers at Kandima, took me there. Ammadey was born in Hulhudheli and was the perfect tour guide, since he could tell me all about it and introduced me to the locals.

The local Island

Situated in one of the innermost atolls of the Maldives, Dhaalu Hulhudheli is an island measuring 0.950 kilometers in length and 0.300 kilometers in width at its widest point. Blessed with an abundance of marine life and surrounded by blue turquoise waters that leaves you lost for words, the people of Hulhudheli depend mainly on fishing as their primary source of sustenance and work. On top of that, Hulhudheli boasts some of the most skilled silver and goldsmiths in the Maldives. – Ali, from the Maldivian love story, was a silversmith himself.

The island has a harbor providing easy access for travelers. It has an excellent mobile coverage for Ooredoo and Dhiraagu networks with the provision of uninterrupted electricity to all households.

As for places of interests, you will find one mosque, an island office, a court and a health center with a pre-school and a government school that provides primary and secondary education for the next generation of the island.  As for dining options, the island is home to one restaurant and two cafes. Since 2015 they also have one guest house for tourists.

Local Culture

In Hulhudheli they will open a Museum that tells you all about the local craftsmanship. Follow their Facebook page to read more about it. I loved to see the actual work of a silversmith as well as local handcraft. So impressive!

Local Food

Also, I got to try some of their locoal food and really LOVED the paan boakibaa – a Maldivian bread cake.  The ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bread
  • 300ml condensed milk
  • 150 ml water
  • 3 tbsps sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • Butter or oil for greasing

It is quite easy to make it at home: 1.Preheat oven at 190- 200 degrees Celsius, grease a 24cm x 9 cm tray with either butter or oil. 2.Pulse your bread slices in a food processor to coarse bread crumbs, no need to make it fine , this is just to break them up. You can even break them up with your fingers 3.Place the bread crumbs in a bowl, add condensed milk, water and sugar. Mix well . 4.Add eggs , vanilla extract and raisins. Mix well and pour the mixture into the prepared tin. 5.Bake for about 45 minutes till nice and brown on top . Cool and cut in to squares and serve. Enjoy. :D (via Jamie Oliver)

Have your own ring made on the island

When visiting Kandima, you should definitely think about taking an excursion to Hulhudheli. It is a day-trip, since it takes one hour by boat to get there, but it is so worth it. I had my own magical experience on this island and even had the famous silver smith Rashaadh Ibrahim made me a special ring. The ring is made of real silver and the best memory and souvenir EVER!

Whether you want friendship rings, wedding or engagement rings, the famous silversmith will have them especially made for you while you explore the island. And when you leave, he has it all ready for you. Simply magical. So, get inspired by Ali and Dhon and create your own love story in the Maldives, on Hulhudheli. <3

Special thanks to Ammadey from Kandima and Ali Riza for making this amazing experience possible!


photo credits: V’s World, Maldivesbest.com (Dhon Hiyala)