Chittorgarh – the name instantly invokes a mixed feeling of awe, veneration and thrill. The moment I read the name in our itinerary the names like Rana Pratap, Mira Bai, Rani Padmini thronged my mind. Chittorgarh is a place full of historical sagas of chivalry, sacrifice and spirituality.
Our Rajasthan tour plan was like this – Jaipur – Pushkar (via Ajmer Sharif Dargah) – Udaipur (via Chittorgarh) – Mount Abu (via Haldighati) – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur.
So we left Pushkar early in the morning and reached Chittor in the afternoon on our way to Udaipur. The fort is situated on a hill and you can take a tour of the entire fort area by auto rickshaw. We booked autos from the auto stand near Hotel Padmini. It took Rs. 100 per head. The cost included auto fare and guide’s charge for our group.
Chittorgarh was a fortified town in time of Rajput rulers. I assume it took years to build such a huge fortified town which is also the largest fort in India. The guide said there are total 113 temples inside the fort apart from palaces and monuments. Once the capital of Mewar Rajputana (Southern part of Rajasthan) Chittorgarh is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was ruled by Guhilot and Sissodia dynasties from 7th Century AD until captured by Emperor Akbar.
Unfortunately, it was already 5 pm and we had too little time to explore the entire fort area. This is one of the downsides of joining conducted tour by travel agencies. Ours was a large group and you know the proverb … too many cooks spoil the broth. 😛 We always fell short of time. Anyway, I roamed around and explored the palaces, memorials and temples as many as I could before the dusk.
Surya Mandir or Sun Temple in Chittorgarh is the place where Rajput kings offered worship to sun god. The temple erected in 8th century stood the test of time for over a millennium. The intricate stone detailing on the temple walls and columns is a treat to the eye.
Krishna Temple (Kumbh Shyam Temple)
This is the temple of Mira Bai. It was built separately beside the sun temple. The Rajput rulers were worshipper of Surya (the sun god). But Mira Bai despite being a Rajput daughter and the queen of Chittor was a devotee of Lord Krishna and later chose the life of a saint.
Mira used to sing devotional songs and won people’s love with her soulful singing and sacrifices. This is the temple where Mira Bai contemplated for the last time and nobody had seen her after that. The legend says her mortal body was merged to the icon of Lord Krishna in the temple.
We started our Chittorgarh tour with Vijay Stambha (Tower of Victory) which is the emblem of Chittor’s glorious past of valor and heroism in protecting their motherland. The monument was built by Rana Kumbha (1458 AD-1468 AD) to celebrate his victory over the Sultan of Malwa in 1440 AD. The tower has over 150 steps to the top balcony. I bet if you can make it to the top it will be the most rewarding experience to enjoy a 360 degree view of the fort.
Rani Padmini Mahal
Queen Padmini’s Palace is situated in the middle of water. The path through the garden entrance led us to the room where Allauddin Khilji is said to have a glance at the reflection of Rani Padmini on a mirror while the queen stood at the gate of her palace.
It is said that Padmini the wife of Rana Ratan Singh was so beautiful that the story of her ravishing beauty reached the ear of Nawab Allauddin Khilji and he came all the way from Delhi to Chittor to see her. But it was against the dignity of Hindu Rajputana that an outsider will look at the queen. Again, they didn’t have the choice to refuse Khilji who had a strong army. So they arranged it liked that.
Later in 1303 Allauddin attacked Chittor and killed Rana Ratan Singh to possess his queen. But the queen and all other female royals committed suicide by burning to death called Jauhar. This was a custom meant for Rajput female royals. Whenever the kingdom was defeated and captured by the enemy (especially Mughals) they committed Jauhar to avoid the shame and indignity at the hand of enemy. The huge pyre where women jumped into the fire was called Jauhar Kund.
The Brahma Temple in Chittorgarh was built by Rana Kumbha to honour his father. The adjoining garden called Charbagh houses the cenotaphs containing the ashes of Chittor’s kings starting from Bappa Rawal to Udai Singh, the founder of Udaipur.
Built adjacent to Bramha Temple this reservoir holds water for sacred functions and worship. As the name reveals the shape of the reservoir resembles the mouth of a cow, the sacred animal in Hindu religion. The cascading structure with the reservoir at the bottom creates a wonderful vista.
Other Attractions in Chittorgarh
Apart from this there are Rana Kumbha Mahal or the Palace of Rana Kumbha, Kirti Stambh, Fateh Prakash Museum, Naulakha Bhandar or the ‘Nine Lakh Treasury’ established by Rana Kumbha are some of the main attractions of Chittorgarh. Fateh Prakash Museum opened in the residence of Maharana Fateh Singh, is located near Rana Kumbha Palace. The museum remains open from 10am to 4pm daily except Fridays.
After about 2 hours of rambling in the ruins of Chittorgarh it was time for us to leave for Udaipur. 😦 The stone edifices looked mysterious in the dying daylight. I wished I could stay there for some more time. But Udaipur was beckoning. It looked even more beautiful in the light of setting sun.
What I realized is that you need at least one day to explore and enjoy the beauty of Chittor. The place has so much to offer that it is an unjust attempt to accommodate everything in a single post. I wish to share more glimpses of Chittorgarh Fort in future. 🙂