This place will always be one of the closest to my heart. While travelling to Udaipur, I saw a silhouette of Kirti Stambh (Victory Tower) from the window of my train and that image still is one of the best memories I have from travelling. This blog post is a tribute the Rajputana courage and valor.
It has always been fascinating to know about the historic places and stories and the ones which associate with gallantry, politics and strategical influences are my favorite. These are the stories which lead us to decipher the decisions made by those rulers and to finally understand and co-relate the aspects we see today while travelling to a place. History can not be judged, as we will never truly understand the circumstances they had back then but it teaches you a thing or two. Personally, I find it fun to relate things and vibes, I feel in a city, to its evolutionary tales.
I have visited Chittor fort only once but those memories are still intact. Everyone knows the story of Rani Padmini and her massive Jauhar. I knew the crudest version of this story when I visited this fort. It is next to impossible to even imagine that kind of determination and sense of commitment, which those ladies portrayed in 1300s. The fort (when I visited) appeared ill-maintained and not a lot a tourists seemed visiting. It was actually heart-breaking. The appearance of this place does not do justice to the significance it has, not only for the locals but for the Rajput lineage of Rajasthan state.
The Chittor fort is the largest fort in India. It was constructed in seventh century during the rule of Mauryans. Later, Bappa Rawal, founder of Mewar dynasty shifted his administrative capital to Chittor. The fort can also be considered as founding stone of the emerging Rajputs’ dynasty and they ruled from Chittor for over three centuries, not consecutively though. The fort has faced three major battles in years 1303, 1535 and 1567-1568. The first siege was led by Alauddin Khilji. He defeated Rana Ratan Singh and the first jauhar happened, led by Rani Padmini. The second seize (1535) had massive repercussions and was led by Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, who defeated Bikramjeet Singh. Inspired by Rani Padmini, Rani Karnavati led the second Jauhar. It was believed that if/when the warriors die during the war, it is better for their spouses to burn themselves, so that, they do not have to surrender to the terms of victorious sultanate forces. The last and final war held among forces of Akbar and Maharana Udai Singh. After his defeat, the maharana shifted his capital from Chittor to Udaipur City Palace where his lineage has survived and is still living.
The fort is constructed at an altitude of 180 meters. Its surroundings and geographic conditions has always given it an advantage during attacks but these attributes have also painted it as a target too. The continuous tension between Rajputs and Mughals led them to agree on a treaty in 1616 in which Jahangir offered the fort to Amar Singh as peace offering. So, in a way the fort has always belonged to Rajputs and will be.
There are many stories associated with the origin of the fort. One interesting story which I came across was that the mighty Bhima owned this fort in the beginning of origin of Chittor settlement and he struck the ground here to make an artificial water body to suffice the needs of residents of the settlement at that time. It is mentioned in the museum as well. There were supposedly 84 water bodies in the premises and only 22 can be seen now. These water bodies are all artificial and seasonal. When I visited, mostly all of them were dry.
The museum gave a very dusty and dilapidated vibe and it was not very welcoming to the visitors. Though, if you observe closely, they have models to explain the areas of the fort which were very interesting. I am attaching some pictures of the fort to give you guys a sense of the space.