Chittorgarh Fort

¤ The Colossal Walls

Standing on a rocky plateau on a 500 feet high hill, the 700 acre fort went through three sieges, and each time Chittor turned out the loser. But that did not mean that the fort was inferior to any other in Rajasthan. It was just that that the Rajputs had a habit of riding out to meet the enemy outside the safety of their walls instead of allowing the enemy to launch the first assault. The first time the fort was stormed in 1303AD, it was purely for matters of the heart. Alauddin Khilji fell in love with Rani Padmini the moment he heard of her and decided to take Chittor and subsequently Padmini. He did get Chittor but Padmini was nothing more than ashes in a huge jauhar (mass suicide by fire) which left 30,000 women burnt alive by choice.

The second siege came 232 years later in 1535 from Muhammad Shah of Gujarat, and this time it was outright war. Chittor fell again, and 13,000 women and children died in a different kind of jauhar. The fortress was on the brink of being seized by Bahadur Shah and there was no time to arrange for a bonfire. Gunpowder was brought out from the magazines and laid out in excavations in the ground. A tremendous blast took the lives of women and children this time.

The final assault was by Akbar in 1567, and it was fatal for Chittor. The seven gates of Chittor were opened and 8,000 Rajputs rode out in their saffron war robes once again to die at Mughal swords. Tradition repeated itself within the walls of Chittor, and women and children sallied forth into flames. When Akbar entered the fort, it is said that there was not a living soul left inside. After this final sack the backbone of Chittor was broken, and its ruler Rana Udai Singh fled to lay the foundations of Udaipur. Chittor never recovered and the fort was taken over by nature.

¤ Fort Palaces

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.

¤ Other Attractions

¤ Fateh Prakash
Near Kumbha’s palace is Fateh Prakash, the most modern building in Chittor. Built in the early 20th century, the palace was the home for Maharana Fateh Singh, Chittor’s ruler who died in 1930. A part of the building has now been converted into a museum but the rest of it is closed to visitors.

Timings : The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. except on Fridays.


Mahi said...

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