The pride of Chittor, the Chittorgarh fort
is a massive structure with many gateways.
Perched on a 180 m high hill, it sprawls
over 700 acres. The chhatris within are
impressive reminders of the Rajput heroism.
The main gates are Padal Pol, Bhairon Pol,
Hanuman Pol and Ram Pol. The
fort has many magnificent monuments, which
are fine examples of the Rajput architecture.
The ancient ruins of the fort are worth
spending few moments in solitude.
The story of Chittorgarh is a saga of valor,
tenacity and sacrifice. Chittorgarh (Chittaurgarh)
was sacked three times and its defenders
had to make the supreme sacrifice. The Fort
of Chittorgarh is a treasure trove of history
and offers to the traveler an insight into
the life of the Great Rajput rulers, who
laid down their lives fighting a superior
enemy instead of leading a life of submission
Chittorgarh is located in the southern part
of the state of Rajasthan. It is located
beside a high hill near the Gambheri River.
It is 112 km from Udaipur and 182 km from
Ajmer. The climate of Chittorgarh is arid.
Summers are quite hot (April-June) and winters
are cool (October-February). It experiences
scant rainfall between June and August.
The origin of Chittorgarh can be traced
to the seventh century. Earlier it was known
as Chitrakut, after a local Rajput chieftain
named Chitrang. It remained the capital
of the local Sisodia clan of Rajputs from
the eighth to the 16th century. The history
of this town is written in blood and sacrifice.
Muslim rulers sacked it three times in the
medieval period. The first was by Ala-ud-din
Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi in 1303. Khilji
laid siege of this hill fort to capture
the beautiful Padmini, the queen of Chittorgarh.
When the situation worsened, Bhim Singh,
the ruler of Chittorgarh, led his men donned
with saffron robes of sacrifice, and rode
out of the fort to certain death. Inside
the fort, women, including Padmini and the
children, committed mass suicide or jauhar
by immolating themselves on a huge pyre,
rather than losing their honor at the hands
of the enemy.
In the middle of the 15th century, Chittorgarh
gained eminence when the legendary Rajput
ruler, Rana Kumbha, ruled it. He built the
Vijay Stambh (Victory Tower) to commemorate
his victory over Mahmud Khilji, the ruler
of Malwa, in 1440. Chittorgarh was sacked
again in 1535 by Bahadur Shah, the Sultan
of Gujarat. The jauhar that followed the
siege saw the death of 13,000 women and
32,000 Rajput soldiers. The third and final
siege took place in 1568 at the hands of
the great Mughal emperor Akbar. Jaimal and
Kalla, two Rajput generals, valiantly defended
the fort but with their death and deteriorating
situation, jauhar was performed. However,
Maharana Udai Singh II, the ruler of Chittorgarh,
fled to Udaipur and re-established his rule.
The Mughal emperor Jahangir returned Chittorgarh
to its rulers in 1616.
Rana Kumbha was the one who officially built
Chittor, and his palace is the oldest monument
within the fort walls. The palace was built
from 1433-68 in plastered stone, and the
entrance is through Suraj Pol which directly
leads into a courtyard. On the right of
Suraj Pol is the Darikhana or Sabha (council
chamber) behind which lies a Ganesha temple
and the zenana (living quarters for women).
A massive water reservoir is located towards
the left of Suraj Pol. Ruined houses towards
the south of the palace may have been used
by lesser nobles, or were probably used
by palace attendants. Below the central
courtyard is a subterranean chamber where
Rani Padmini committed jauhar with the rest
of the women of Chittor when Alauddin Khilji
besieged the fort. But perhaps the most
remarkable feature of the palace is its
splendid series of canopied balconies. The
complex also houses stables for elephant
and horses, but is now in ruins.