“Garh to Bas Chittorgarh, baaki Sab Garhiya” beamed our Homestay host and Guide, Parvati as she took us around the 7th century AD, Chittorgarh Fort. Translated the phrase means“If there is any Fort, it is Chittorgarh, rest are all fortresses!”
Chittorgarh is home to the Chittor Fort, the largest fort in India and Asia.
The magnum opus of Bollywood Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali “Padmavati “ is a History-Drama period film based on the epic poem Padmavat (1540) by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. Whether the poet’s artistic work was inspired by reality or was simply a creation of his vivid imagination is contested.
The film has therefore invoked the wrath of ministers, religious and women’s groups alike.
Irrespective of which side of the debate you choose to be on, the Chittaurgarh Fort in Rajasthan is synonymous with valiant kings, illustrious queens, spirited warriors and mesmerizing structures. Read on to know why it must be included on your travel bucket list.
History of Chittorgarh Fort
The History of Mewar and its rule by the Sisodia Dynasty can be traced as far back as 566 AD. Bappa Rawal (734-753 AD) the legendary founder of the Sisodia dynasty conquered Chittor from Maurya dynasty.
Over the centuries the Rajputs managed to recover their fort twice from Allauddin Khilji and Bahadur Shah of Malwa but in the third conquest by Akbar, the fort finally got annexed to the Mughal empire.
Rajputs preferred death to dishonor. Chittorgarh Fort is the living memory of the valiant kings like Rana Kumbha, Rana Sangha, Maharana Pratap and sacrifice of brave ladies like Rani Padmini (also known as Rani Padmavati) and Panna Dhai.
There is a Sound and Light Show in the Fort premises which will take your through the Glorious history of the Fort.
Legends of Chittorgarh
There are legends which speak of the mighty Bheem( one of the five Pandava princes) to have struck the ground of this land with his feet which led to water gushing out to form a reservoir know as Bhimlaat (Kick of Bhim).
Things to see and do in Chittorgarh Fort
The fish-shaped Chittorgarh Fort Stands tall over a 180-meter high rocky hillock and spreads over 700 acres near the Gambheri River.
Just like the Fort of Jaisalmer, Chittorgarh Fort is a living fort with many villages calling it their home.
Padmini Haveli – Homestay
Hire Official Guide
It is highly recommended to spend a day at leisure in Chittorgarh. For a tour around the fort, it is advisable to hire a guide.
We hired our homestay host (though expensive ) as our guide and she was quite thorough with the history of the place.
Here are our top 10 recommendations for places to visit in Chittorgarh.
1. Seven Gates (Pols) of Chittorgarh Fort
These gates (Pol in local language) are called, from the base to the hilltop, the Paidal Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jorla Pol, Laxman Pol, and the final gate the Ram Pol.
On the other side of the fort is a gate which opens in the direction of Suraj (Sun). It is the east gate of Chittorgarh Fort and so it was named Suraj pol.
2. Chittorgarh a ‘Water Fort’
The fort that once boasted of 84 water bodies has only 22 of them now. These Include kunds (wells), talabs (ponds), and baories (stepwells).
All the ponds have a natural catchment. The wells and the stepwells are located below the ponds so that even the seepage from the latter is not lost.
3. Rani Padmini’s Palace
The palace of Rajput Queen Padmavati, aka Padmini, is one of the most visited attractions. She was married to Raja Ratan Singh of Mewar. This palace plays an important role in Rajput history.
Built on the banks of a lotus pool, this palace had a pavilion that provided privacy for the women of the royal family.
Ala-ud-din Khilji, the then Sultan of Delhi, spotted Queen Padmini’s reflection in the pool and was so besotted by her beauty that he led his forces in a battle to abduct her.
On hearing the news of her husband’s defeat, Rani Padmini is believed to have committed jauhar (self-immolation) in the underground cellar of the Rana Kumbha palace.
4. Rana Kumbha Palace – Haunted?
The ruined Rana Kumbha Palace is one of the most massive monuments in the Fort of Chittor.
This palace was believed to have been built by Bappa Rawal in 734 A.D. Maharana Kumbha renovated it during his reign and then onwards the palace was named after him.
The palace is believed to have underground cellars where Rani Padmini and other women committed ‘Jauhar’ (self-immolation).
The ruins of the once famous palace have the temple of Lord Shiva, Zanana Mahal, Diwan -e -aam, along with a stable for horses.
Though we did not witness any paranormal activities during our visit, it is believed that this palace is haunted by spirits.
5. Panna Dhai and Meera Bai’s residence.
According to the legends, the founder of the city of Udaipur, Maharana Udai Singh was born here, and his life was saved by his wet nurse Panna Dai.
Panna Dhai sacrificed the life of her own son to protect the future heir of Mewar. A mother’s sacrifice of her own son for the sake of her motherland has made Panna Dhai a legend to remember.
This palace was also the home of the famous bhakti poetess Meerabai.
6. Kirti Stambh
Built in the 12th century, Kirti Stambh or the Tower of Fame is 22 meters high. It has been dedicated by the Jains to Lord Shri Adinath Rishabdeo (the first Jain Tirthankara).
7. Vijay Stambh
Rana Kumbha built the Vijay Stambh (Tower of Victory) in 1440 to commemorate his triumph over the combined forces of Malwa and Gujarat led by Mahmud Khilji.
This 9 storeyed pillar is built partly from red sandstone and partly white marble is decorated with detailed sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses.
8. Jaimal & Patta’s Palace
Though the palace is now in ruins it is a reminder of the valor of Jaimal Rathore and Patta Sisodia who sacrificed their lives to uphold the honor of Chittorgarh.
9. Ratan Singh’s Palace
The winter palace of the royal family, Ratan Singh Palace overlooks the Rataneshwar Talab (lake). A temple known as Rataneshwar Mahadev is to the north of the main gate.
The palace exterior has been renovated but from the inside, the palace is mostly in ruins.
10. Kumbhashyam Ka Mandir / Meera Temple
Kumbhasyam Mandir is the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu by Maharana Kumbha.
Within the precincts of this temple is another temple which is dedicated to the poet princess Meera who was a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna. Her songs of devotion are sung even today.
11. Temples inside Chittorgarh Fort
Amongst six Jain temples inside the fort, Bhagawan Adinatha temple with fifty-two Devtulikas deserves a mention.
Built in the 6th Century, Samidheswar Mahadev has intricate carvings and houses a Trimurti (three-faced) figure of Shiva.
On the north side of Charbhuja and Laxmi Narayan temples – Sas Bahu temples, there are two beautiful temples dedicated to Annapurna Mata and Ban Mata.
12. Fateh Prakash Mahal
Fateh Prakash Mahal is located close to the Topkhana and Kumbha Palace within the main fort complex.
This white colored two-story palace was built by Maharana Fateh Singh (1884-1930). It has a tower on each of its four corners, all crowned by beautiful domes.
In 1968, a major part of “Fateh Prakash Palace” was converted into the “Fateh Prakash Palace Museum”. The Government museum houses a rich and rare collection of sculptures.
During our visit, the Museum was under renovation so we couldn’t visit it.
HOW TO REACH HERE
- The nearest airport is Dabok Airport in Udaipur city which is about 105 km away.
- Regular buses are available to Chittorgarh from all major cities in Rajasthan. Udaipur is the closest major city.
- Chittorgarh is connected by rail to and from Udaipur, Ajmer, Jaipur, and Delhi.
Both, the bus stand and railway station are located in the new township.
A good Long weekend getaway from Delhi
Chittorgarh is around 580 km from Delhi and makes a good long weekend getaway from Delhi. It took us 12 hours with breaks to reach Chittorgarh.