About 150 miles southwest of Jaipur, the great fort of Chittaurgarh stands atop a 500-foot high hill rising sharply from the surrounding plain. Today largely a deserted ruin, this fort perhaps more than any other symbolizes the honour and valor of the people of Rajasthan. Attacked repeatedly by invaders, three times it suffered the supreme sacrifices of the lives of all of its inhabitants. Despite the passage of centuries, the fierce struggles at Chittor are the subject of epic tales still told and songs still sung. Chittaurgarh became the first capital of the royal house of Mewar, descended from the sun, in the early thirteenth century. In 1303 the fort was attacked by Alauddin Khilji, the sultan of Delhi, reputed to be interested in claiming the beautiful Rajput princess as his own. If that was his goal, it was not to be realized, because as defeat became certain, Padmini and all the other women of the fort voluntarily committed themselves to the flames in ritual suicide. Their menfolk donned saffron robes and fought to their deaths. Today, massive fort walls, huge gateways, palaces, temples and towers bear mute witness to Chittaurgarh’s turbulent past.
The Fort: According to legend, Bhim, one of the Pandava heroes of the ‘Mahabharata’, is credited with the fort’s original construction. All of Chittor’s attractions are within the fort. The main gate on the eastern side of the fort is known as the Surajpol. From the western end of the fort, there are fine views over the town and across the surrounding country-side, as well as a less-than charming view of an enormous cement factory.
Vijay Stambh (Victory Tower) was built in 1440 AD. by Maharaja Kumbha, a powerful ruler of Mewar, to commemorate his victory over the Muslim rulers of Malwa and Gujarat. It is 37 metre high structure with nine storeys, covered with exquisite sculptures of Hindu deities.
Padmini Palace, Built beside a large pool with a pavilion in its centre. Legend relates that, as Padmini sat in this pavilion, Alaud-din was permitted to see her reflection in a mirror in the palace. The bronze gates in this pavilion were carried off by Akbar and can now be seen in the fort at Agra.
Kirti Stambh (Tower of Fame): Chittor’s other famous tower, the 22 metres high ‘Kirti Stambha’, or ‘Tower of Fame’, is older and smaller that the ‘Tower of Victory’. Built by wealthy Jain merchant, it is dedicated to Adinathji, the first Jain tirthankar. A narrow stairway leads through the seven storeys to the top.
Meera & Kumbha Shyam Temple is close to the Fateh Prakash Palace is the ‘ Meera temple ‘, built during the reign of Rana Kumbha in the ornate Indo-Aryan style and associated with the mystic-poetess Meerabai. The larger temple which is in this same compound is the Kumbha Shyam temple, or temple of Varah.
Kalika Mata Mandir is a temple of mother Goddess Kali Who is the symbol of power. Originally it was built as a Sun temple in the 8th century and later was converted into Kalika Temple in 14th century AD.
By Bus: Chittaurgarh is on the main bus and train routes. By road, it’s 182 kms from Ajmer, 158 kms from Bundi and 112 kms from Udaipur. There are frequent connections to these places.
By Train: Chittaurgarh has train links with Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Udaipur, Jaipur, Kota and Delhi.