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India >> Rajasthan >> Chittaurgarh >> Chittaurgarh - A Rajput Bastion
Chittaurgarh - A Rajput Bastion Chittaurgarh, Rajasthan
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Chittaurgarh, the administrative head quarters of Chittaurgarh District in Rajasthan, is an old city and an embodiment of Rajput vanity mixed with romance and chivalry. It lies on the Berach River, a tributary of the Banas, and was the nestling ground for the Sisodia Rajputs of Mewar. The Eventful great past of Chittaurgarh is written clear in the form of ruined castles, impressive forts and magnificent royal buildings.

 

The vestige of Chittaurgarh is traced back to the myth that Bhim the legendary figure of the Mahabharata, visited this place to attain immortality and became the disciple of a sage, but failed to achieve his goal, and out of sheer anger he stamped the ground with his foot, creating a water reservoir, this reservoir is called as Bhimlat. Later on, it came under Mauryas, there are different opinions as to when it came under the Mewar ruler, but it remained the capital of Mewar till 1568, when it was shifted to Udaipur. It's believed that Bappa Rawal the legendary founder of Sisodia clan, received Chittaurgarh in the middle of 8th century, as a part of the dowry after marriage with a Solanki princess, after that his descendants ruled Mewar which stretched from Gujrat to Ajmer, upto the 16th century.

 

Chittaurgarh holds a very special place in the hearts of Rajputs, as it was the only bastion of the clan which stood invincible, at a time when every other stronghold had succumbed to invasion. It is often called as the "Bhakti aur Shakti ki nagari" (land of devotion and strength).

 

Chittaurgarh is the epitome of Rajput pride, romance and spirit; for the people of Chittaur always chose death before dishonor. The city reverberates with the tales of heroism and sacrifice, now sung as ballads by bards of the region. Though it can now be called a ruined citadel there is much more to this huge fort. It is a symbol of all that was brave, true and noble in the glorious Rajput tradition.

 

History

Historically, it is considered that Chittaur was built by the Maurya dynasty in the 7th century AD. It was then named Chitrakut after Chitrangada Mori, a chieftain as inscribed on ancient Mewari coins. Some accounts say that the Maurya dynasty was in possession of the fort when Bappa Rawal the founder of the kingdom of Mewar seized Chittor garh (Chittaur fort) and made it his capital in 734 AD. While some other accounts say Bappa Rawal received it as a part of the dowry after marriage with the last Solanki princess. After that date his descendants ruled Mewar, which stretched from Gujarat to Ajmer, until the 16th century. It remained the Mewar capital for 834 years.

 

Chittaurgarh had to face the first assault in 1303 A.D. by Alauddin Khilji, who was enamored by the beauty of Padmini of which he had only heard. Rani Padmini preferred death to abduction and dishonor and committed Jauhar (an act of self immolation by leaping into a large fire) along with all the other ladies of the fort. All the men left the fort in saffron robes to fight the enemy unto death. Chittaurgarh was captured in 1303 A.D. by Alauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi who led a huge army. It was recaptured in 1326 A.D. by the young Hammir Singh, a scion of the same Gehlot clan. The descendants of Hammir came to be known by the name Sisodia after the village where he was born.

 

Rana Kumbha (1433–68) was a versatile man, a brilliant poet and musician. He built Mewar up to a position of assailable military strength, building a chain of thirty forts that encircles the kingdom. But, perhaps more important was a patron of the arts to rival Lorenzo de Medici, and he made Chittaurgarh a dazzling cultural center whose fame spread right across Hindustan.

 

By the 16th century, Mewar had become the leading Rajput bastion. Rana Sanga of Mewar led the combined Rajput forces against the Mughal emperor Babur in 1527 A.D., but was defeated at the Battle of Khanua. Later in 1535 A.D., Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat besieged the fort causing immense carnage. It is said that again just like in the case of Jauhar led by Padmini in 1303 A.D., all 32,000 men then living in the fort donned the saffron robes of martyrdom and rode out to face certain death in the war, and their women folk committed Jauhar led by Rani Karnawati. The ultimate sacrifice for freedom, Jauhar was again performed for the third time after the Mughal Emperor Akbar captured Chittaurgarh in 1568 A.D.

 

The great Maharana Pratap, son of Rana Udai Singh II who is revered as a personification of the values Rajputs cherish and die for. He took an oath to spend his life living in the jungles and fighting until he could realize his dream of claiming back Chittaurgarh from Akbar and thus the glory of Mewar. He underwent hardships and had to eat breads made of grass while fighting his lifelong battle to win back his citadel and pride. With the reputation of a brave man with great character even among his enemies, he died free in 1597.

 

Any narration about Chittaurgarh is considered complete, only if it has the mention of Meera Bai, the most famous female Hindu spiritual poetess whose compositions are still popular throughout North India. Her poems follow the Bhakti tradition and she is considered to be most passionate worshipper of lord Krishna. Folklore says that her love for Krishna was epitomized by her final disappearance in the temple of Krishna in Dwarka. She is believed to have entered the sanctum of the temple in a state of singing ecstasy after which the sanctum doors are believed to have shut on their own and when later opened, the sari of Mirabai was seen enwrapped around the idol of Lord Krishna, symbolizing the culmination of her union with her Lord.

 Orientation

Chittaurgarh Fort is the largest fort of India. This huge fort covers an area of 700 acres, extending to 3 km in length and 13 km in peripheral length, standing on an elevated hill of 180m, above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. The fort reverberates with an evocative history and is studded with a series of historical palaces, gates, temples and two prominent commemoration towers. These monumental ruins have inspired the imagination of tourists and writers for centuries.

 

The fort epitomizes the nationalism, courage, medieval chivalry and sacrifice exhibited by the Sisodia rulers and their kinsmen and women and children, between the 7th century and 16th century. The rulers, their soldiers, the women folk of royalty and the commoners considered death as a better option than dishonor in the face of surrendering to the foreign invasions. The fort has a long story of romance, courage, determination and sacrifice. A glimpse of the fort still makes one to think the glory of the Rajputs who once lived here.

 

The gigantic fort is accessible through seven huge gates (Pols), these served as a watch tower in earlier times. The way to Chittaurgarh Fort will take one through intersecting paths that would be interrupted at intervals by seven giant Pols (gateways). All the gateways to the fort have been built as massive stone structures with secure fortifications for military defense. The doors of the gates with pointed arches are reinforced to fend off elephants and cannon shots. The top of the gates have notched parapets for archers to shoot at the enemy army. A circular road within the fort links all the gates and provides access to the numerous monuments palaces and 130 temples) in the fort.

Apart from these massive gates, the Fort has many palaces to boast of including Rana Kumbha Palace and Padmini's Palace, which are wonders (ruined of Rajput architecture. Padimini's Palace is the same palace that used to be the abode of the beautiful queen of Rattan Singh. Rana Kumbha Palace is the place that has underground cellars where queen Padmini committed 'Jauhar' along with the children and the other ladies of household.


The Fort complex comprises several temples including Swamidheshwara Temple, Jain Temple, Kalika Mata temple, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, Meerabai Temple and Kumbha Shyam Temple. These are the ancient temples that have noteworthy carvings and intricate work. Gaumukh reservoir and Bhimtal Tank are other places worth visiting. Gaumukh reservoir is a huge water tank that gets water from Cow's mouth shaped rock. In the waters of this same reservoir, Allaudin was allowed to see the reflection of Queen Padmini that led to the whole battle.


Above all, the fort has towers that depict the glorious history of the Rajput rulers. Vijay Stambh and Kirti Stambh are the most famous towers celebrating the victory of Rajputs. Kirti Stambh is the tower that literally means ‘The Tower of Fame’. Built in the 12th century, this tower is dedicated to Adinath ji, the first Jain thinker. Kirti Stambh is a seven-storied structure with the height of 22 m. one can reach the different floors by climbing through a cramped staircase of 54 steps. The tower is embellished with sculptures of Jain Pantheon.

 

Close to Kirti Sthamba is the Meera temple. Rana Khumba built it in an ornate Indo–Aryan architectural style. It is associated with the mystic saint-poet Mirabai who was an ardent devotee of god Krishna and dedicated her entire life to his worship.


Talking about Vijay Stambh, literally it means ‘The Tower of Victory’. Vijay Stambh is the most impressive structure of the Chittaurgarh Fort. It was constructed by Maharana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over Mohammed Khilji in the 15th century. This giant tower is nine-storied and offers a picture-perfect view of the down-town from its balconies. This huge tower extends to the height of 122 feet and width of 47 sq ft at the base. The circular stairs of this tower has 157 steps. This imposing tower took 10 complete years to construct. One can trace sculptures of the Hindu gods on the alcoves of this tower.


Chittaorgarh Fort allures many a visitors from the world over to its complex every year. The magnificent monuments of this fort are definitely worth holding one for a spell and compel to ponder over the heroism of Mewar rulers, so is the history that makes the visit more gripping. This heritage fort of Rajasthan is definitely a 'must-visit' place that cannot be given a miss.

 Getting there

Location

South-eastern Rajasthan on the plains of Gambhiri and Berach rivers.

Distances

330 km south-west of Jaipur and 120 km north-east of Udaipur.

 Fast Facts
Name Chittaurgarh - A Rajput Bastion Best Time To Visit October to March
Location Chittaurgarh   Rajasthan   West   India  
Open From 0000-00-00  To 0000-00-00 Type Historical City
Temperature Summar   40-45º      Winter   4-8º      Rainy   25-35º
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