Princess Aouda has been recently widowed, and at that time in India, it was customary for a widow to join her late husband's corpse on the funeral pyre. This was an ancient tradition called suttee, which struck Western visitors like Phileas Fogg as a particularly cruel and barbaric practice. Fogg knows that attempting to rescue Aouda is fraught with danger; not only that, it will almost certainly delay his journey, and his schedule's tight enough as it is. However, Fogg is nothing if not a gentleman, and so he bravely attempts to save Aouda from being incinerated.
So Fogg hits upon a daring plan. He and his companions will tunnel through the old walls of the pagoda of Pillaji, where Aouda is being held captive. However, the plan comes to grief when Aouda's guards wake up. Fogg and his companions are going to have to try a different tack. Fortunately, the ever-resourceful Passepartout is on hand to retrieve the situation. He impersonates the Rajah, Aouda's dead husband, and just before the fire is to be lit, rises up and comes down slowly from the funeral pyre. The crowd are plainly terrified at what appears to be a dead man coming back to life. In the midst of the ensuing chaos, Fogg and his party, with the rescued princess, make good their escape. Passepartout's ingenuity has saved the day, and with it Aouda's life.