Chittorgarh fort is the largest fort in Rajasthan, though I am not sure how that “large” is measured. It stands as the memory of the bravery of Mewar rulers and sacrifices made by women and children. The Mewar kingdom lost this fort thrice; to Allauddin Khilji, Bahadur Shah and Akbar. Each defeat was followed by Jauhar - mass self immolation of thousands of women and children to save themselves from enemy forces. A very gruesome history. It is said that after Akbar sacked the fort, Chittorgarh was "nothing but an immense crematorium”.
|Kumbha Palace in Chittorgarh fort|
Chittorgarh was the last leg of our recent trip to Rajasthan. We had an evening and half of the day before heading to Udaipur airport. In spite of planning for a good amount time in Chittorgarh, we had to rush at the end. There is so much to see in the fort!!
|View of Vijaya Stamba with ruins of a temple|
The gargantuan fort looms over the town of Chittorgarh. The perimeter wall is 13 km long. Unlike Kumbhalgarh fort, all monuments in Chittorgarh fort can be reached by vehicle. As we climbed up the fort though series of hair pin bends, we crossed some massive gates. At the top we had to pay the entry fee before proceeding further. The entry fee was just 15 rupees with no charges for photography. In fact, the tickets are checked only in couple of monuments.
Having reach Chittorgarh in the noon, we focussed our attention towards Shani Dev temple and Kumbha Palace at the entrance of the fort. The Palace was almost in ruins but still provided a glimpse of the past. It provided some nice opportunities for us to photograph.
|Sunset ay Chittorgarh fort|
Our plan in the evening was to watch “Sound and Light” show. Normally two shows are held every evening (depends on the crowd). But on Tuesday and Friday, the first show is reserved for the people arriving on “Palace on wheel” train. It was Friday and we had to wait for sometime before we could enter. The show mainly concentrated about the history related to Rani Padmini, who committed Jauhar to escape from Allauddin Khilji; Rani Karnavati who fought against Bahadur Shah of Gujarat but committed Jauhar after defeat; Panna Day, a maid who sacrificed her own son to save Mewar dynasty; Meera Bai, the queen who chose to become saint poet; Rana Kumbha and Maharana Pratap, the most admired rulers of Mewar. Overall a good show.
|Kumbha Palace during Sound and Light show|
The next morning, we visited some of the important monuments:
Meerabai temple, associated with saint poet Meerabai. Though she was a queen, she disregarded social and family conventions and dedicated her life to Lord Krishna and composed songs of devotion.
Jain temples - Though most of the monuments inside the fort belong to Hinduism, there are significant number of Jain temples like Sattaees Devari, Shringar Chauri and Sat Bis Devri. It clearly depicts the religious tolerance of Mewar rulers.
Vijay Stambha, the tower of victory is the most prominent structure in the fort. This was built by Rana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over Sultan of Malwa. Yet another example of religious tolerance of the Meward rulers considering that the top story of the tower has Jain Goddess and also "Allah" carved in arabic in few floors. We could not see the internal details of the tower as public was not allowed inside.
Gaumukh reservoir formed by a spring at the edge of the fort. It is said to be one of the main source of water. It is near Siddeshwara Temple.
Padmini’s palace - This is the place where Allaudin Khilji had glimpse of Rani Padmini’s beauty. In the mad rage to posses her, he went to destroy Chittor but could not succeed as she committed jouhar after the defeat of Rajputs. This was the only place where we were asked to show the tickets!!
The gate though which the Mughal armies entered the fort.
Kirthi Stambha - Smaller than Vijay Stambha, it is dedicated to Adinath, the first theerthankara of Jainism. A Jain temple exists next to the tower.
For a person interested in history, Chittor fort is not the one to be missed. It is about 110 km from Udaipur and 90 km from Udaipur airport. Chittorgarh town itself is not touristy but there are many places to stay and eat.