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The ballet is set in legendary India. Nikiya, a bayadère or temple dancer, and Solor, a noble warrior have secretly sworn eternal love. But the Rajah decides to marry his daughter Gamzatti to Solor, who, overwhelmed by her beauty, forgets his vows of love to Nikiya. When the Rajah learns of Nikiya and Solor’s love from the High Brahmin (who is also in love with Nikiya), he decides to have the bayadère killed. Gamzatti tries to persuade Nikiya to give up Solor but she refuses and attacks the princess, who then also decides to have the bayadère killed. Nikiya dances at the betrothal celebrations of Gamzatti and Solor. She is fatally bitten by a poisonous snake hidden in a basket of flowers sent by the Rajah and Gamzatti. Solor has a vision of Nikiya in the Kingdom of the Shades. Later, at the wedding ceremony, he is again haunted by the vision of Nikiya which he alone can see. The gods, infuriated by the killing of Nikiya, destroy the temple, killing everyone in it. The spirits of Nikiya and Solor are reunited in eternal love.