Chittorgarh – A Citadel of Valor, Sacrifice and Honor

Sindhu Murthy

The royal state of Rajasthan in India is known for its magnificent palaces and breathtakingly huge forts which stand testimony to the grandeur of the Rajput era. The fort of Chittorgarh stands out among the popular forts of India for its spirit of honor, valor, sacrifice and freedom. The citadel fort which is also the largest of all the forts in India crowns a 180mtr tall hill covering an area of over 700 acres with its fortification walls, towers, palaces, temples, and lakes.

The fort of Chittorgarh stands out among the popular forts of India for its spirit of honor, valor, sacrifice and freedom.

 

After witnessing the spectacular symphony of  nature with Architecture in the temple complexes of Menal, we headed towards Chittorgarh– The fort that evokes the glorious sacrifices made by Rajputs in the spirit of freedom and honor . We had to drive along a  serpentine road passing through 7 massive gates  namely  Paidal Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jorla Pol, Laxman Pol, and Ram Pol to reach the main gate of the fort.  The fort was quite huge and housed many villages within its  walls.

On entering the main gate of the fort, to the right,  we saw the Kumbha palace or the Kumbha mahal. The main entrance to the palace was through Suraj Pol.  Believed to be built by Rana Hamir, this palace was altered multiple times by Rana Kumbha and hence the name Kumbha Mahal. Walking in the eerie silence amidst the vast ruins of this ramshackle palace sent  shivers  down our spines for it was here the famous queen Padmini committed Jauhar (an act of self-immolation by leaping into a large fire) along with many other women to avoid dishonor in the hands of the Mughal invaders led by Ala-ud-din Khilji. This palace is also famous for being the birthplace of Udai Singh, the king who built the city of Udaipur.  As per the famous folklore, the prince Udai Singh was saved from Balbir by his nursemaid Panna Dhai who replaced him with her own son. As a result, she had to witness the killing of her own son while the prince Udai Singh was stealthily moved to Kumbalgarh fort hidden in a basket of fruits.

Chittorgarh is also home to the famous poetess Meera Bai who was married to a prince of Chittor. A Krishna temple present behind the Kumbha palace was constructed on request of Meera Bai after her marriage. Just beside the Meera mandir was the Vrij mandir or the Varaha temple built by Rana Kumbha.

The monument of Vijaya Sthambh ( Victory Tower) is a pièce de résistance of Chittorgarh which was built by Maharana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat led by Muhamad Khilji. The imposing tower of 9 floors stands 37m tall on a 3m high pedestal. The tower can be viewed from any vantage point of the fort and has beautiful carvings of Hindu gods. We were told that we could get a panoramic view of the entire town of Chittaurgarh from the 9th floor of the tower.  However, we could not climb up the tower because  the stairway leading to the top of the tower was closed for safety reasons.

waterfall at Menal with the Temple

Our next stop was at the Samiddhesvar temple located near the Vijaya Sthambh  which  had a 3 faced idol of lord Shiva. As per an inscription present on the walls of the temple, the structure was built before 1150 AD. The walls of the temple had intricate carvings depicting Indian mythology.

Walking down along the steps outside the temple, we could reach the famous water tank of Chittorgarh called the Goumuhkh Kund which had water coming from a natural spring. During its heydays, Chittorgarh fort boasted of having 88 water bodies which could provide water to an army of 50,000 men for 4 years continuously. However, only 22 of the 84 water bodies have sustained till date.

waterfall at Menal with the Temple

 

Located in the southern part of the fort was the  famous palace of queen Padmini. The 3 storeyed structure was located in the middle of a lotus pool. It was at this very palace that the Mughal ruler Alauddin Khilji had a glimpse of the mirror image of the beautiful queen and was intrigued to siege the fort to possess her.

Our last stop in Chittorgarh fort was at the Fateh Prakash Palace which is currently turned into a museum housing different antiquity such as coins, art, weapons, tribal life and wood crafts. Other prominent places worth visiting in the fort are the Keerthi Sthambh and the Kalika Mata temple.

The fort of Chittorgarh is sure to enthrall you with its history of courage, sacrifice, and honor. Make sure you add it to your itinerary when you visit Rajasthan.

How to reach:

Chittorgarh fort is very well connected to the major cities  in Rajasthan by  road and railways.

Nearest Railway Stations:  Chittorgarh railway station.

Nearest Airport: Udaipur or Jaipur.

Driving distance from major tourist attractions:

Udaipur: 102 km
Jaipur: 309 Km
Ranakpur: 123 km
Kumbhalgarh: 110 km
Bundi: 190 km
Kota: 125 km
Menal: 60 km

Tips:

  • The best time to visit Chittorgarh is post-monsoons between October and February when the tanks are full with water and the surroundings look green.
  • Don’t forget to carry a good camera along with you during your visit.
  • Beware of monkeys near the Vijaya Sthambh.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and footwear as there is a lot of walking involved.
  • It takes around 3 hr to explore all the monuments in the fort.  Plan your itinerary accordingly.
  • A sound and light show is organized in the evenings near Kumbha Palace. Plan to attend the show if possible.
  • Chittorgarh is usually covered as a day trip from Udaipur.

Have you visited any of the forts in Rajasthan? Which one is your favorite? Do share your stories with us.

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