Chittorgarh fort is one of the largest in India. It is also a world heritage site, owned by the Archeological department of India. We planned to visit Chittorgarh fort from Udaipur. And we were super excited to visit here as there are several interesting spots to visit in this fort and equally interesting stories associated with them. Chittorgarh fort was the capital of the kingdom of Mewar. It saw several glorious years before it came under attack by the Muslim rulers.
- 1303 AD, Allauddin Khilji defeated Rana Ratan Singh
- 1535 AD Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat defeated Bikramjeet Singh
- 1567 AD Akbar defeated Maharana Udai Singh II who thereafter left the fort and founded Udaipur
Several spots and sites inside the fort tell tales of the heorism of Rajput men and women, across these battles.
As we started our day, we took the Udaipur – Chittorgarh highway. Since the highway is in excellent condition, we reached Chitoorgarh in 2 hours. After crossing the town, we reached the small hill atop which lies the Chittorgarh fort. Just like all other forts, this one as well has very robust walls and a great defense system in place. From the foothill itself started our visit to the interesting spots of this fort, the first one being the fort gates.
7 Gates of Chittorgarh fort
The Chittorgarh fort is guarded by not one but 7 robust gates. Each of these lies a few hundred meters ahead of the previous one, on the incline of the hill. As is evident, in the ancient times, an enemy had to conquer all the 7 gates one after the other to be able to reach the fort. Since the fort premises start right at the foot of the hill, from the first gate (or Pol as it is called), and the fort is too large, vehicles ply till the top. As we drove through the different gates, we started feeling the majesty of the fort.
We crossed through all the 7 gates before reaching inside the fort. These gates are named Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jodla Pol, Laxman Pol and the main gate named the Ram Pol. We reached the fort after crossing all the pols. Then we stopped our vehicle near Vijay Stambh.
Rana Kumbha Palace
Rana Kumbha Palace is the oldest monument in Chittorgarh fort. Alas, it is mostly in ruins now. While reaching the Vijay Stambh from the main road of the fort, one passes through the ruins of this palace. This palace marks the birth place of Maharana Udai Singh, the king who later went ahead and formed Udaipur. As per the legends, when Maharana Udai Singh was born, his life was under threat of enemies. In order to protect him, a devoted maid of the palace named Panna Dai, had replaced him with her own son. While the maid’s son was mistaken as the prince by the enemies and killed, Udai Singh was hidden in a basket of fruits and transported to a safer spot. Several elephant and horse stables are part of this palace, which are mostly in ruins now. A pathway through the palace garden leads towards the Vijay Stambh.
Vijay Stambh or the Pole of Victory
Unlike all other forts that I have visited, the prominent structures of Chittorgarh fort are scattered over several acres. The first one that we stopped by is Vijay Stambh or the Pole of Victory. It was built in 1440 AD by maharaja Kumbha. He built this pole to commemorate his victory over Mohammad Khilji. This tower comprises of 9 floors. The outer walls of the tower are engraved with beautiful carvings of Hindu deities. There is a narrow flight of stairs that leads to the top of the tower. At the top floor, there are balconies. These balconies provide a great view of rest of the fort. Overall, Vijay Stambh is a great example of great ancient architecture. Since the way the structure stands tall through hundreds of years is the testimony of its strength.
Kalika Mata Temple or Sun Temple
Just besides Vijay Stambh is the Kalika Mata Temple or the Sun temple. Actually there are several small temples all across the fort premises devoted to different God and Goddess. However, this is one of the most prominent ones. The temple is located towards the left of the Vijay Stambh. While crossing the Vijay Stambh and reaching to the temple, one can encounter several ruins of ancient structures in between. Near the temple, you might find some vendors and artists selling different stuff. I bought some prints of paintings done in the traditional Rajasthani style. Since I paint, I can use those small, easy to carry prints to motivate my next painting 🙂
Samadhiswara temple (Shiva Temple)
Just besides the Kalika Mata Temple lies the Shiva temple. There is a stone bull and a Shivling in the temple. However, other than that, this temple is very similar to the Sun Temple in it’s architecture. A small temple, open on all four sides. And, a small flight of broad stairs leading up to the temple.
Gomukh Water Reservoir
Unlike any other forts in India, the Chittorgarh fort has water canal along it’s boundaries as an extra defense system. Due to the water, it was not possible for enemy troops to enter the fort without making a noise while crossing the water. Gomuhk Water Reservoir is a part of this water defense system. As well as, it serves as one of the many water reservoirs inside the fort. This reservoir can be seen from besides the Shiva Temple. A narrow flight of stairs nearby leads to the reservoir. As the name suggests, Gomukh means “cow’s mouth”. Cow is considered a holy animal in Hindu religion. There is a mouth of cow constructed at a height through which water circulates and falls off into the reservoir. Hence the name. Good thing is that you can take the flight of stairs and reach all the way up to the water.
The Chiitorgarh fort has several other lakes, ponds and wells as source of water. So much so that it is believed that the capacity of all these water bodies put together was enough for the whole town of Chittorgarh and it’s army to survive for several years without requiring to step out of the fort.
Padmini Palace & the story of Rani Padmini
After visiting the temples and Gomukh water reservoir, we came back to the main road. A walk of 2 minutes by foot leads to Padmini Palace. Padmini was the wife of then king Maharana Ratan Singh. The Padmini Palace is where she resided with other ladies amongst the kins of the king. This palace is constructed as a 3-floor building. And, it lies in the center of a big pond. It is believed that the structure of this palace actually inspired the formation of several ‘Jal Mahal’ kind of palaces all over Rajasthan later on. It is said that she was very beautiful.
There is a deep story behind the final seize of the fort of Chittorgarh and the beauty of Padmini that goes like this:
Story of Rani Padmini
A sorcerer is banished by king Ratan Singh. He finds refuse in the court of Allauddin Khilji in Delhi. He narrates the tales of beauty of Rani Padmini to Allauddin day in and day night. As a result, Allauddin starts caveating her. He sends a message to the Rana that he wants to see his wife once and that his intentions are just friendly. The Rana takes the proposal to his wife. However, call it the intution of a woman or her sixth sense, Rani Padmini doesn’t feel comfortable about the proposal. So, she, in turn, proposes that Allauddin can see her but not directly. He can see her glimpse in a mirror. Although, not very happy, Allauddin agrees to the proposal. Thus he is invited over by Rana Ratan Singh to Chittorgarh palace. He gets to see a glimpse of Rani Padmini in her palace through a mirror.
However, after seeing her, the madness of possessing this beautiful lady grips him more than even before. He returns back with his troops and attacks Chittorgarh. The mewar army fight diligently but a defeat seems inevitable. Upon learning that, Rani Padmini and several of her fellow ladies in the palace conduct Jauhar. Jauhar came to be known as a ceremony where the women kill themselves by jumping into fire. As a result, although Allauddin Khilji was able to win over the fort of Chittorgarh, what he ultimately found was only remains and ashes..nothing else. Highly disappointed, he returned back to Delhi after some time.
Keerti Stambh or Tower of fame
Keerti Stambh is a 12th Century construction inside the fort of Chittorgarh. It was built by a Jain merchant Jeeja Bhagerwala. The tower marks the glory of Jainism in this era. Built in the style of Jain monuments, the tower has beautiful carvings all around it. During this era, Jainism had a big influence on the kingdom of mewar. As is evident from Jain temple inside the Chittorgarh fort and all over rest of Rajasthan.
The infamous devotee of Lord Krishna, Meera Bai, is also believed to be born in the temple of Chittorgarh. She is a mystic poet and a great devotee of Krishna. So much so that legends say once she was made to consume poison and she still survived it by the grace of Lord Krishna. This temple, right inside the premises of Chittorgarh fort is devoted to Meera. The temple is built in a mixed architectural style. It reflects combined architecture of aryan and other prevailing styles. In conclusion, it is one of the most peaceful temples inside the fort premises, where one feels utter calm. So, a very beautiful one.
Fateh Prakash Palace (Government Museum)
Fateh prakash palace is yet another palace inside the Chittorgarh fort premises. Built by Maharana Pratap Singh, it was his resident for several years. The palace is built in Rajasthani style of architecture. Thus preserving the culture in it’s walls forever. The palace has a huge collection of paintings, crystal items and several other collectibles. Looking at the historical and cultural importance of these items, the palace has been converted into a government museum. And it’s door are open to the public for visiting.
Overall, Chittorgarh fort is one of the most important historical places in India. It has seen several centuries of glory. There are so many stories that each part of the fort narrates. Whatever stories I had heard about the glory of the fort seemed well justified upon visiting. We were glad that we included it in our itinerary while visiting Udaipur.
Tips for visiting
- You must wear comfortable cloths and walking shoes. The fort premises are too huge and you will have a lot of walking to be done.
- You can hire a cab or use a self – driven vehicle. You can also reach Chittorgarh from Udaipur via buses and trains.
- From the foothills of the palace till the top, autos ply all the time. You can use them in case you are not having your own vehicle.
- Don’t forget your sun glasses and a cap or hat. The day we visited, it was quiet a hot one, with scorching sun overhead.
- Chittorgarh – Udaipur highway is in very good condition, you will reach in 1.5-2 hours. Start early to beat the heat and take your time to visit the huge fort premises.
- Internet is full of resources about the details of Chittorgarh fort and the stories of it’s era. Educate yourself a bit so that you can understand and relate to the spots that you visit.
- There are several packaged food and water vendors inside the palace, so, you need not worry about them. There are several good restaurants in the town of Chittorgarh as well.
Although Chittorgarh is a well known destination in Rajasthan. There is an offbeat destination Menal, just 60km from Chittorgarh which is a great combination of both natural beauty and historical marvels. You might want to checkout this article on Menal for the details of this gem of a place.