Chittorgarh is the city of pride and glory of Rajasthan.It is very beautiful city with great history. Chittorgarh is one of the most stirring chapters in Indian history for it was there that the flower of Rajput chivalry sprang to life and the immense stretch of its sacred walls and ruined palaces relate the saga of innumerable sieges and heroism which has almost become a myth now.
Chittaurgarh fort is an acknowledgement to the courage of the gallant Rajput rulers who sacrificed their life combating dominant rivals instead of surrendering before them. Chittorgarh Fort is said to have been the capital of the Guhilots and Sisodia kings beside other dynasties who ruled Mewar between the eighth and the sixteenth centuries.
The fort was attacked three times and every time it got saved by the daring heroism of the Rajput warriors. In 1303, for the first time, this fort was attacked by Allaudin Khilji said to fulfill his desire to make off with Rani Padmini. For the second time, the Fort was sacked by Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in 1535. In 1567, it was attacked for the last time by Mughal Emperor Akbar to conquer Maharana Udai Singh. Every time, a jauhar (mass suicide) was observed and the women folk of the Royalty never submitted themselves.
This colossal fort is accessible through seven huge gates (Pols) that are comprised of strong iron spikes and served as a watch tower in earlier times. The way to Chittorgarh Fort will take you through crisscross paths that would be interrupted at intervals by seven giant pols (gateways). The foremost gate you will come across is the ‘Ram Pol’ (the gate of Lord Rama) that has a temple in its vicinity. While climbing further, you would find two cenotaphs near Padal Pol. These cenotaphs are dedicated to Jaimal and Kala, who were killed by Akbar in the battle of1567.
Apart from these massive gates, the Fort has many palaces to boast of including Rana Kumbha Palace and Padmini’s Palace, which are wonders of Rajput architecture. Padimini’s Palace is the same palace that used to serve 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 also comprises several temples including Sammidheshwara 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.
Talking about Vijay Stambh, literally it means ‘the tower of victory’. Vijay Stambh is the most impressive structure of the Chittorgarh 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. You can trace sculptures of the Hindu gods on the alcoves of this tower.
In the evenings, Vijay Stambh is illuminated and looks all the more mesmerizing. Chittaurgarh Fort welcomes many a tourists around the world to its complex every year. Moreover, the history of this majestic fort makes the visit to this place more interesting. The magnificent monuments of this fort are definitely worth spending some time in seclusion pondering over the heroism of Mewar rulers. This heritage fort of Rajasthan is definitely a ‘must-visit’ place that cannot be afforded to miss.
Major Attractions in
- Kalikamata Temple – Kalika Mata Temple was originally built in the 8th century for Sun God and was later converted to a temple for mother Goddess, Kali in the 14th century.During the festival days of Navaratri, fairs are organised and pilgrims from different places come here to pay obeisance at the temple.
- Samadhisvara Temple – The temple of Siva as Samadhisvara is situated at the Gaumukha-Tirthasthala. The sanctum at a lower level enshrines an image of Mahesa Murti with three faces; the central and left ones being pacific and the right one terrific representing Aghora aspect of Siva. This temple is identified with the temple of Tribhubana Narayana built by the Paramara king Bhoja in the eleventh century AD. Two large prasastis placed and preserved in the temple supply valuable data in this connection.
- Kumbha Shyam Temple – Situated near Kumbha’s Palace to the north of Vijaya-Stambha, the original temple showing features similar to the Kalika Mata Temple. The interior is composed of twenty pillars arranged in longitudinal axis. These pillars are of different stones, designs and type and belong to different styles. Maharana Kumbha restored its sikhara and dedicated it to Vishnu. This temple was originally built in the early eight century A.D. by Raja Manabhanga who is recorded to have built here a Surya Temple (now called Kalika Mata Temple) and a Tripura Vijaya Temple. This is also confirmed by Kumbha’s prasasti. In front of the temple is an image of Garuda under a canopy supported on four pillars. On the south is a Meera temple. Facing east, temple stands on low pitha consists of sanctum, mandapa and a portico. In front of it is a four pillared chhatri, said to have been built in the memory of her Guru.
- Meera Temple – Build by Maharana Kumbha in 1449, this lord Vishnu Temple has beautiful idols in its sanctum, mendap and pillars. In the same premises, there is a small temple of Lord Krishhna.
- Padmini Palace – The Padmini Palace is also one of the important buildings within the fort complex. Rani Padmini was wife of Rawal Ratan Singh, a ruler of Chittaurgarh. Hence, this building is known after her name. It overlooks a reservoir in the centre of which stands a three- structure with arched opening. The main gate facing west leads to courtyard surrounded with a row of small rooms. The adjacent second rectangular courtyard is provided with a circular hall in the southern side over looking the reservoir. There is a third rectangular courtyard provided with double storeyed room on the south. According to a legend, Ala-ud -Din Khalji saw Padmini’s reflection in a mirror here.
- Rana Kumbha’s Palace – This magnificent palace occupying a large area, is a plain building but in excellent taste and is typical of the domestic architecture of the Rajputs before the Muslim invasions. The original building was extensively enlarged by additions carried out by Maharana Kumbha. Even in its ruined condition it provides faint glimpses of the pristine glory of this three storeyed structure where the poetess Meera Bai (AD 1498-1546), wife of Bhoj Raj, the eldest son of Rana Sanga lived and sang in devotion of lord Krishna. The walls are ornamented with artificial battlements and turrets, balconies and varandahs with balustrades. The principal entrance to the palace is through Badi Pol. The second gate is Tripolia which leads into an open courtyard. In the courtyard an underground entrance leads to the vaults where Rani Padmini alongwith other women is said to have performed the jauhar during the first sack of the fort.
- Ratan Singh’s Palace – It is situated in the northern part of the fort complex. The main entrance of the palace facing east is provided with a lofty arch and chhatris. The first courtyard is surround by small rooms and deorhi in the north-west which leads to the second courtyard. The second storey of this open courtyard is provided with audience hall alongwith a fine balcony overlooking the reservoir in the east. To the north there is another courtyard which has a lofty building adorned with domes. It is significant to mention here that there is a Siva temple, known as Ratnesvara Mahadeva temple. The exterior wall of the temple is adorned with gods and goddesses.
- Bhama Shah’s Palace – It is a three storeyed building, the middle storey having a broad arch in its centre. This arch has an emphatic ogee. The third storey has a rectangular opening. Vertical and horizontal projections make up the design. The whole structure is crowned by a single broad, semi circular dome. The construction is of rubble masonry. It is stylistically datable to the early fourteenth century AD.
- Jain Kirtti Stambha – Kirtti Stambha or the Tower of Fame is one of the most interesting Jaina monuments of the medieval age and is elegant specimen of its class adorned with sculptures and mouldings from base to summit. It was dedicated to Adinatha or Rishabhadeva, the first Jaina Tirthankara whose standing images are fixed in the niches of its four cardinal points. The height of the tower is about 24.50 m on a square platform. A central staircase winds up a square shaft through six storeys to a small open pavilion of elegant design, the roof of which rests on twelve pillars. An inscription records the erection of the stambha by a Bagherwal Mahajan Jija, son of Naya and is datable to 13th century A.D.
- Seven Pols – The Chittaurgarh fort have seven main gates locally known as Pol. These are Padal Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesa Pol, Jorla Pol, Lakshman Pol, Ram Pol. There is another Pol on the eastern side known as Suraj Pol.
- Shringar Chauri – Shringar Chauri situated in the centre of Banbir’s wall, is a Jaina temple dedicated to Santhinatha. There are two doors in the temple on the north and the west, while the two sides are closed with geometrical jali work. There is an elevated square platform in the middle of the floor, upon which are four carved pillars carrying four beams. The pillar close to the western door bears an inscription mentioning that the temple was built by one Velaka, son of Kola, the treasurer of Maharana Kumbha in VS 1505(AD 1448). It was dedicated to Santinatha and was consecrated by one Jaina Sagar Suri of Kharatara-gachchha.
- Sat Bis Deori – The group of twenty seven shrines, locally known as Sat Bis Deori, is built within the compound wall in VS 1505 (AD 1448). This temple complex stands on a high jagati and comprises a shrine with the mandapa facing west, a minor shrine to its north and south and corridor with cell shrines surrounding the central shrine and its courtyard. Both sanctum and mandapa have projection adorned with sculptures. Miniature niches with figures appear even on the plinth in western Indian style. Over the sanctum rises a tower with cluster of elements; portions of the original decoration of arch-like motifs are still intact. The mandapa is roofed with a restored corbelled dome; finally carved ceiling panels incorporate bracket figures. The mandapa walls are embellished with lattice work.
- Banbir Wall – Banbir was the son of Prithviraj, who occupied the throne after attempting to kill Udai Singh. He erected the wall in AD 1535. This citadel wall could not be completed as he was ousted by Udai Singh in AD 1540.
- Water Reservoirs – There are many water reservoirs and holy tanks within the fort complex . these are Gaumukh Kund, Chitrangad Talab, Surya Kund, Hathi Kund, Bhimlat, Kukreshwar Kund, Sukhadiya Talab, Annapurana Talab, Fatta tank, etc. The description of some of the important ones are as under:
- Gaumukh Kund – Originally called as Mandakini Kund or the heavenly Ganges, located south of Mahasati enclosure. Here, water issues from the cow’s mouths carved in stone set up in the wall of a pillared hall and a little chamber to the north of it.
- Chitrangad Talab – It is said to be built by Chitrangad Mori, founder of the fort, It is irregular in shape and provided with a masonry embankment on the southern side, of which niches harbour images of Hindu gods and goddesses.
- Kukreshwar Kund – It is on the west of Kukreshwar temple abutting to the fortification wall and is one of the perennial sources of water for the habitants. It is built in AD 755 and subsequently repaired by Maharana Kumbha (AD 1433-68)
- Sukhadia Talab – This reservoir is located on the south of the Bhimlat and east of Padmini palace. It has massive masonry built embankment on the northern side with recessed niches harbouring the figure of Hindu divinities.
- Bhimlat – This masonry built tank is situated on the eastern margin of the fort. It has stepped embankment on the east and broad stairs leading to the bottom of the reservoir. There are two ruined temples built on the eastern and western side of the reservoir and dedicated to Vishnu and Siva respectively. A large number of Sati pillars are erected around the reservoir.
Festivals and fairs
- Maharana Pratap Jayanti – The legendary Maharana Pratap was a true patriot who initiated the first war of independence. Maharana was born on May 9th 1540 in Kumbhalgarh in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan to Maharana Udai Singh II and Rani Jeevant Kanwar.Maharana Pratap has gained amazing respect and honor as he is seen as an epitome of valor, heroism, pride, patriotism and the spirit of independence.His birth anniversary (Maharana Pratap Jayanti) is celebrated as full fledged festival every year on 3rd day of Jyestha Shukla phase. Special puja and processions are held in his remembrance on Maharana Pratap Jayanti day everywhere. Several cultural programs such as debate are also organize.
- Meera Mahotsav – Meera Bai (1498 – 1547) was a devout follower of Lord Krishna. Meera Bai was one of the foremost exponents of the Prema Bhakti (Divine Love) and an inspired poetess.Mira Bai was a Rajput princess who lived in the north Indian state of Rajasthan.Meera was Rajput princess born in about 1498 in Metra, Rajasthan. Her father, Ratan Singh, was the youngest son of Rao Duda, ruler of Merta, and son of Rao Duda ruler and founder of Jodhpur. Ratan Singh belonged to the Rathore clan.She was married to Bhoj Raj, ruler of Chittor. Meera Smrithi Sansathan (Meera Memorial Trust) along with the Chittorgarh district officials organise Meera Mahotsav every year on Sharad Purnima day (On Mirabai’s birth anniversary) for 3 days. Many famous musicians and singers get together to sing bhajan’s in this celebration. The 3 days celebration also features puja’s, discussions, dances, fire works etc.
- Teej – Teej is one of the major festivals in Chittorgarh which is celebrated with great enthusiasm.Teej is the festival of swings. It marks the advent of the monsoon month of Shravan (August). The monsoon rains fall on the parched land and the pleasing scent of the wet soil rises into the air. Swings are hung from trees and decorated with flowers. Young girls and women dressed in green clothes sing songs in celebration of the advent of the monsoon. This festival is dedicated to the Goddess Parvati,commemorating her union with Lord Shiva. Goddess Parvati is worshipped by seekers of conjugal bliss and happiness.
- Gangaur – The Gangaur Festival is the colourful and most important local festival of Rajasthan and is observed throughout the State with great fervour and devotion by womenfolk who worship Gauri, the consort of Lord Shiva during July-Aug. Gan is a synonym for Shiva and Gaur which stands for Gauri or Parvati who symbolises saubhagya (marital bliss). Gauri is the embodiment of perfection and conjugal love which is why the unmarried women worship her for being blessed with good husbands, while married women do so for the welfare, health and long life of their spouses and a happy married life.
- Jauhar Mela – The fort and the city of Chittorgarh host the biggest Rajput festival called the “Jauhar Mela”. It takes place annually on the anniversary of one of the jauhars, but no specific name has been given to it. It is generally believed that it commemorates Padmini’s jauhar, which is most famous. This festival is held primarily to commemorate the bravery of Rajput ancestors and all three jauhars which happened at Chittorgarh Fort. A huge number of Rajputs,which include the descendants of most of the princely families, hold a procession to celebrate the Jauhar. It has also become a forum to air one’s views on the current political situation in the country.
- Rang Teras – Rang Teras is a popular tribal fest of Mewar celebrated on the 13th moon night of the month of Chaitra. A big colorful fair and huge gathering of tribal to rejoice the harvest of wheat has been celebrating Rang Teras is customary since 15th century. It is a thanksgiving festival of farmers. Farmers pay their honor to Mother Earth for providing them food for next year.As a part of Celebrations , young men in village perform their valiant skills while dancing.It is also celebrated is Sri Krishna Temples all around North India and ISKCON Temples.
How to reach
By Road – Chittorgarh is well connected to all parts of India by roads. The bus stand (bus depot) of Chittorgarh is located in the mid of old and new city. There are good bus services (Private as well as government) available for Delhi, Mumbai, Ahamadbad, Ajmer, Bundi, Kota, Udaipur and other major cities. Rajasthan roadways (RSRTC) provide a very good service for visiting areas around Chittorgarh. Rajasthan Roadways also has a premier service called Pink Line, Silver line and Sleeper Coaches (Gray Line).
By Rail – Chittorgarh railway station is a busy junction of western indian railways. It has direct rail links with all major north Indian cities including Mumabi, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Udaipur, Jaipur and Kota.
By Air – The nearest airport is Udaipur (Dabok Airport). The airport is located 70 kilometers from Chittorgarh and linked by daily Air Service from New Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.