Chittorgarh is the epitome of Rajput pride, romance and spirit. Chittorgarh Fort is a massive and majestic fort situated on a hilltop near Chittorgarh town in Rajasthan state in India. Chittorgarh Fort is one of the most historically significant forts not only in Rajasthan but whole of North India. Chittorgarh Fort reverberates with history of heroism and sacrifice, which is evident as it echoes with the tales sung by the Bards of Rajasthan. The main reason for visiting Chittorgarh Fort is its massive hilltop fort, which is a depiction of Rajput culture and values. The fort stands on a 240-hectares site on a 180m high hill that rises rapidly from the plains below.
The indomitable pride of Chittor, the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India is a massive structure with many gateways built by the later Maurya rulers in 7th century A.D. Perched on a 180 m high hill, it sprawls over 700 acres. The chhatris within are impressive reminders of the Rajput heroism. The main gates are Padal Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol and Ram Pol. The Chittorgarh Fort has many magnificent monuments, which are fine examples of the Rajput architecture. The ancient ruins of the Chittorgarh Fort are worth spending few moments in solitude.
The main places of tourist interest around the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India are the two towers known as the 'Kirti Stambh' or Tower of Fame and the 'Vijay Stambh' or Tower of Victory. There are several temples, reservoirs and palaces constructed between the 9th and 17th centuries AD. There is a huge complex of Jain temples within the Chittorgarh Fort. A big water reservoir is close to the opening where Rani Padmini and other women are believed to have performed 'jauhar', an act of self-immolations by plunging in a large fire. Water flows out from a rock shaped in the form of cow's mouth and is called 'Gaumukh'. Other tourist spots worth visiting are the Bhimtal Tank, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, Meera Temple, Kumbha Shyam Temple and Kalika Mata Temple dating back to the 8th century AD.
History and Legend of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
The story of Chittorgarh is a saga of valor, tenacity and sacrifice. Chittorgarh (also Chittaurgarh) was sacked three times and its defenders had to make the supreme sacrifice. The Fort of Chittorgarh in Rajasthan, India is a treasure trove of history and offers to the traveler an insight into the life of the Great Rajput rulers, who laid down their lives fighting a superior enemy instead of leading a life of submission under them.
According to often told legend the construction of the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India was started by Bhim a Pandav hero of mythological epic Mahabharata but the origin of Chittorgarh can be traced to the seventh century. Earlier it was known as Chitrakut, after a local Rajput chieftain named Chitrang. It remained the capital of the local Sisodia clan of Rajputs from the eighth to the 16th century. The history of this town is written in blood and sacrifice. Muslim rulers sacked it three times in the medieval period. 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 Chittorgarh 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 was by Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi in 1303. Khilji laid siege of this hill fort to capture the beautiful Padmini, the queen of Chittorgarh. When the situation worsened, Bhim Singh, the ruler of Chittorgarh, led his men donned with saffron robes of sacrifice, and rode out of the fort to certain death. Inside the Chittorgarh Fort, women, including Padmini and the children, committed mass suicide or jauhar by immolating themselves on a huge pyre, rather than losing their honor at the hands of the enemy.
In the middle of the 15th century, Chittorgarh gained eminence when the legendary Rajput ruler, Rana Kumbha, ruled it. He built the Vijay Stambh (Victory Tower) to commemorate his victory over Mahmud Khilji, the ruler of Malwa, in 1440. Chittorgarh was sacked again in 1535 by Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat. The jauhar that followed the siege saw the death of 13,000 women and 32,000 Rajput soldiers led by Rani Karnawati.
In 1568 Mughal Emperor Akbar razed the Chittorgarh Fort to the rubble and once again the history repeated itself. Jaimal and Kalla, two Rajput generals, valiantly defended the Chittorgarh Fort but with their death and deteriorating situation, jauhar was performed. Akbar carried away all the distinctive pieces of architecture and sculpture and placed them in his capital. These are still manifested in the fort of Agra. However, Maharana Udai Singh II, the ruler of Chittorgarh, fled to Udaipur and re-established his rule. The Mughal emperor Jahangir returned Chittorgarh to its rulers in 1616 but it was not resettled. Today a new township sprawls below the hill on the west side.
Attractions of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
Even though the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India is ruin but it is an overwhelming reminder of past history and its walls resonate with unbelievable legend of extra ordinary men and women and their equally astounding deeds. The Chittorgarh Fort has many magnificent monuments.
Rana Kumbha Palace of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
Rana Kumbha [Maharana Kumbhakarna] was the ruler of Mewar, a state in western India, between AD 1433 and 1468. He was a Rajput belonging to the Sisodia clan. Kumbha was a son of Rana Mokal of Mewar by his wife Sobhagya Devi, a daughter of Jaitmal Sankhla, the Parmara fief-holder of Runkot in the state of Marwar. Rana Kumbha was the vanguard of the fifteenth century Rajput resurgence.
Kumbha is credited with having worked assiduously to build up the state again. Of 84 fortresses that form the defense of Mewar, 32 were erected by Kumbha. Inferior only to Chittor, the chief citadel of Mewar, is the fort of Kumbhalgarh, built by Kumbha. Chittorgarh Fort is the highest fort in Rajasthan (MRL 1075m).
Amongst Rajput rulers, the flowering of arts and culture during Kumbha's reign is exceeded only by Bhoja Parmara. Maharana Kumbha is credited with writing the Samgita-raja, the Rasika-priya commentary on the Gitagovinda, the Sudaprabandha, and the Kamaraja-ratisara. No copies of the Sangita-ratnakara and Sangita-krama-dipaka (two books on music by Rana Kumbha) have survived. During Rana Kumbha's reign, the scholar Atri and his son Mahesa wrote the prashasti of the Chittor Kirti-stambha and Kahana Vyasa wrote the Ekalinga-mahamatya.
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 Chittorgarh 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.
Fateh Prakash Museum in the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan, India
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.
Kunwar Pade ka Mahal in the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan, India
Kunwar Pade ka Mahal was the palace of the prince of Chittor, and was built in 1450. Interestingly, this palace incorporates for the first time in Rajput architecture the use of ogee arches. These S-shaped arches later became an essential part of Rajput architecture and were widely used in palaces, step wells and temples. In the prince’s palace can be seen some of the beautiful blue tiles that went into decorating most of the palaces here. Prolific use of the ogee arch can also be seen in Rana Ratan Singh’s palace built from 1527-32. Ratan Singh was Padmini’s husband, and his palace is styled on Rana Kumbha’s royal residence.
Rani Padmini’s Palace of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
Rani Padmini’s Palace is a compact three storeyed white building, but what is seen today is a 19th century reconstruction of the original. The palace is surrounded by water, and the inevitable chhatris (pavilions) crown its roofs. This was perhaps the forerunner of the concept of Jal Mahal (palaces surrounded by water), and it was from here that Akbar carried off huge bronze gates and installed them in Agra. Close by is Bhimlat kund, an artificial tank dedicated to the strongest of the Pandava brother, Bhima. It is built beside the lotus pool with a historical pavilion that changed the history of Chittor. Ala-ud-din saw the reflection of Queen Padmini from here and so mesmerized was he, that the quest of possessing her led to a furious battle which saw the last of Maharana Ratan Singh (husband of Maharani Padmini) and the epitome of beauty-Cleopatra of Rajasthan, became an eternal legend in the history of chittor and also of the Mewar state. The feel still lingers on.
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever- and now they don't say this for nothing.
Palaces of Jaimal and Patta of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
The palaces of Jaimal and Patta were the last two buildings to be built in Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India, and calling them palaces is really misleading. Compared to other palaces in Rajasthan, they are small and of not much architectural significance. Both these havelis (houses) are built very frugally, taking into consideration that they were constructed more as simple residences than splendid palaces. Both lie in ruins now, and their facades are minimal and hardly bear any resemblance to the palaces of Rana Kumbha or Padmini.
Towards the south of these two havelies is the three-storeyed tower called Chonda house built in early 15th century, and now in ruins. Chonda was the founder of the Chondawat clan and gave up his throne on the insistence of his father.
Main Gate Ways (POLS) of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
A limestone bridge supported by ten arches across the Gambheri River leads into the Chittorgarh Fort. Nine of these arches are pointed, and by some mishap one was built as a curve. The road to Chittor is arduous and a kilometer long, with seven imposing gateways forming defensive entrances. Padal Pol the first gate is where Bagh Singh was cut down in the second siege by Bahadur Shah in 1535.
Here it must be remembered that gateways to a fort in Rajasthan were no diminutive ones – they were massive stone structures with reinforced doors to ward off elephants and even cannon shots. The gates of Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India are of special architectural interest, for it was here that for the first time that defense surpassed décor. The arches are pointed, and the top of the gates are notched parapets from where archers could shoot at their tormentors.
None other than Emperor Akbar dedicates two of the seven gates to Chittor’s brave defenders. Bhairon Pol was where Jaimal fell by the Emperor’s bullet, and Patta died at Ram Pol, the fort’s main gate which was built in 1459. It is crowned by two little chhatris (pavilions), and the roof is supported by a corbeled arch. Each side of the gate consists of a small hall. On returning to Agra Akbar ordered the construction of statues of the valiant warriors to commemorate their deaths. Cenotaphs for both Jaimal and Patta were also built by Rajputs at each gate. A statue of a Rajput warrior on horseback, lance in hand, is Jaimal’s cenotaph, while another colonnaded cenotaph lies nearby, dedicated to Raghudeva of Mewar.
The eastern wall is entered through Suraj Pol (Sun Gate). Hanuman Pol lies before Ganesh Pol, and then come two gates joined together in a peculiar manner. The upper arch of the Jorla (Joined Gate) is connected to the base of Lakshman Pol, a feature never seen anywhere else in India.
Temples of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
In the western side of the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India is an ancient Tulja Bhawani temple in honour of goddess Tulja, held sacred by the scribes of Chittor. Adjacent to this temple is an open courtyard, the tope khana (cannon foundry) of yester years where a few old cannons can still be seen.
Naulakha Bhandar- Treasure Store of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
The Naulakha bhandar (nine lakh treasury) built by Rana Kumbha is a small citadel in itself, and it was here that all the wealth of Chittor was hoarded. The bastion once had lofty walls and towers to guard it, but now lies in ruins. The Naulakha bhandar is also said to have been the residence of Banbir, the usurper.
Shringar Chaori Jain Temple of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
In northeastern corner there is a small domed temple called the Shringar Chaori with detailed carvings of gods and goddesses on the outside. This richly sculpted Jain temple was built into the fort wall in 1448 in honour of Shantinath, a Jain fort maker.
The palace of the Ranas, built by Rana Raimal, is a plain edifice with notched battlements, following the style of original Rajput architecture devoid of any Mughal influence. This palace was the home for the very first rulers of Chittor, or that of the Moris from whom Chittor was seized.
Within the courtyard surrounding the palace is another temple, this one for Devji. Rana Sanga had a special affinity for Devji, and on each of his forays outside Chittor to engage the enemy he would first visit the temple. On a victorious return, Sanga would once again pay homage to the deity.
Mira Bai Temple of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
Two massive temples also lie within the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India. One was built by Rana Kumbha and the other by Mira Bai, the saint-poetess and Krishna’s devotee. The masonry for these temples was brought from the ruins of ancient shrines near Chittor. Rana Kumbha’s Vrij temple (1450AD) is dedicated to Varah, the god with the body of a man and the head of a boar. Near these temples are two kunds or reservoirs, each measuring 125 feet in length, 50 feet across and 50 feet deep. However, they were not meant to store water and were constructed for the wedding of a Chittor princess to a prince of Gagron. They were filled with oil and ghee (clarified butter) which was served out to attendants and guests.
Near Mirabai’s temple is the cenotaph of Mirabai’s guru Shri Rai Das. Inside the cenotaph is a statue depicting five human bodies fused together with one head, signifying that there are no caste differences and even outcasts can reach out to god.
Kallika Mata temple of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
Bappa Rawal built the Kallika Mata temple sometime during the 8th century for Surya, the Sun god. Alauddin Khilji destroyed it in the first sack of Chittorgarh Fort, but Rana Hammir rebuilt it as a Kali temple in the 14th century. The temple consists of five chambers, all devoid of their original roofs. The walls of this temple are plain but the cornices are decorated with lotus symbols. The inner sanctum’s walls depict the Sun god Surya in nichés surrounded by consorts and angels. The moon god Chandra is also shown in sculptures in the walls which rise up into a flat ceiling supported by quadrangular pillars, also intricately carved and bracketed at the top. The doorframe of the inner sanctum has four ornamental bands with Surya forming the central theme of its carvings. The entire frame is flanked by an elaborate panel in which are carved figures of deities around a main figure of the sun god. The temple still retains the flavour of the Gupta style of architecture, and an inscription within the edifice informs us that it was built by king Manabhanga.
Kumbhashyama temple of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
The Kumbhashyama temple is similar to the Kallika temple but in is honour of the god Krishna. Built during the region of Rana Kumbha in the Indo-Aryan style, the temple is associated with the mystic poetess Meerabai- an ardent Krishna deovtee. She was the wife of Prince Bhojraj. Simplicity is the main theme, but nichés in the walls are filled with diamonds and carry images of gods and goddesses as well as the eight regents of Chittor. The upper walls are decorated with a frieze of entwined loops. A major part of the temple seems to have been restored, but the inner chamber still retains its originality.
The 16th century Adbhutnath temple demonstrates a style which emerged in the 10th century. Here, images of gods tend to be differently portrayed than in other temples. Heads are almost circular and the statues’ limbs form a tubular shape, making the images look like crude toys. The main image of Mahesha or Lord Shiva is made of wood and is an unrefined depiction of the Destroyer god. His face is flat and two more adjoining faces are turned forward in an obvious display of the lack of dimension.
Brahma Temple of the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, India
Rana Kumbha’s Brahma temple is not really that of the Creator of the Universe, and is in honour of Kumbha’s father, Mukul. Apparently Brahma was never worshipped here, and the temple was only named after him since a bust of Mukul stands in the centre of the solitary chamber. Adjoining this temple is Charbagh, a garden of cenotaphs where the ashes of each one of Chittor’s rulers – from Bappa Rawal to Udai Singh II, the founder of Udaipur – are kept.
Mahasati in the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan, India
The Ranas of Chittor were cremated in the Mahasati, a small terrace surrounded by stones marking satis (widows burnt with the bodies of their husbands).
Gaumukh in the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan, India
Beyond the Charbagh is Gaumukh, a perennial fountain formed in the mouth of a `cow’. Gaumukh is a deep tank filled by a spring coming from a 'cow mouth', situated at the edge of the cliff. The `cow’ is actually a cleft in a rock face through which water flows out into a reservoir. It is considered to be sacred where you can feed the fishes. Near the Gaumukh is the Rani Bindar tunnel which leads into the subterranean chamber where Rani Padmini committed jauhar during Alauddin Khilji’s siege of Chittor. Within the same complex is the Sammidheshwara temple in which light enters from four different directions. The temple walls are short and take the form of blind balustrades. Small pillars support the roof on the outside while columns support the dome of the inner chamber. This central chamber is largely open on all sides and its columns meet in arches in the upper reaches.
Tower of Victory-Vijay Stambh in the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan, India
The most imposing monuments in Chittor are the dual towers that stand as a grim reminder of the jaded grandeur of Chittor. Vijaystambha or Victory Tower was erected by Rana Kumbha from 1457-58 after he defeated the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat. The tower is 122 feet high and its summit spans an area of more than 17 feet. Nine storeys ascend into the sky from the 35 feet broad base on a 42 feet broad platform. Each of the nine storeys has doorways leading into colonnaded balconies. Designed by an architect called Jaita in the Jain revivalist style, the tower is built of quartz and compact limestone abundantly found in Chittor. The colonnaded top storey has a statue of a kanya (young girl) surrounded by gopis (milkmaids) in dancing postures playing various musical instruments. Black marble tablets in this floor contain shlokas (verses) tracing the genealogy of Chittor rulers. However, most of the slabs have been defaced and only one is still in its original condition. The fifth floor contains reliefs of the builders of the tower, and a simple staircase which leads right up to the top connects all the storeys. There are around 157 narrow steps leading to the terrace where the balconies give a beautiful top angle view of the whole town. When illuminated in the evening, the tower reflects a mesmerizing effect and the view is worth capturing in the camera. This tower is the piece-de-resistance of chittaurgarh. It is also referred to as Vishnu Stambha -- "Tower of Vishnu" in other texts.
Tower of Fame - Kirti Stambha in the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan, India
The secondary tower in Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India is the huge Kirti stambha (Tower of Fame) originally dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain saint and adorned by the naked figures of the Digambars [Adherents of the Digambar sect who does not believe in covering the natural body]. 75 feet high and 39 feet wide at the base, the Kirti stambha is also richly decorated with Jain motifs. Similar to Vijay stambha, this tower is also built of quartz, is seven storeys high with a chunkier façade. A number of Jain inscriptions can be found within and outside the tower, dating it to 896AD. A narrow stairway goes through seven stories of the tower to the top. The 22 metre high tower was built by a Bagherwal Jain merchant Jijaji Kathod in 12th century.
Mohair Margi in the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan, India
Mohair Margi is a little hill raised under orders from Akbar during his siege of Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India in 1567. The Mughal army was engaged to raise a hill as high as the fort walls so that they could fire cannons into Chittor. For this purpose earth was excavated and dumped near the walls. Legend has it that Akbar paid one gold mohur (coin) for each basket of mud since the task meant certain death. Eventually the mound did reach as high as the Chittorgarh Fort walls and Akbar was able to seize Chittor.
Location and Transport of Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India
Chittorgarh is located in the southern part of the state of Rajasthan, in the northwestern part of India. It is located beside a high hill near the Gambheri River. It is 112 km from Udaipur and 182 km from Ajmer. The climate of Chittorgarh is arid. Summers are quite hot (April–June) and winters are cool (October–February). It experiences scant rainfall between June and August.
Chittorgarh is connected by both bus and rail. The bus stand and the railway are located in the new township. Chittorgarh Fort is a massive structure with a 1 kilometre zigzag accent to it. The road leads through seven gates to the main gate Rampol (meaning Gate of Ram). On the climb between the second and third gate you see two Chattris cenotaphs built to honour Jaimull and Kulla heroes of 1568 siege by Emperor Akbar. The main gate of the fort itself is Surajpol (meaning Sun Gate). Within the fort a circular runs around the ruins of the fort.
The majestic Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India is located 112 km from Udaipur which attracts domestic as well as international tourists owing to a number of historical and religious land marks within the city as well as in the vicinity and hence is very well connected to the major cities of India by road, Air and Rail.
Road: Udaipur falls on the Golden Quadrilateral, lying midway between Delhi and Mumbai on National Highway (NH) 8 and is around 650 km from either metro. The roads in this part of the country are really nice, paved in the middle, and fit for self-driving. One can either drive from Jaipur (around 7 hours) or Ahmedabad (4-5 hours), or take a Rajasthan Tourism bus from India Gate in Delhi.
Air: Dabok airport is 24 km from the city centre. Daily flights connect Udaipur with Jodhpur, Jaipur, Aurangabad, Mumbai and Delhi. The Airport is going through modernization project and soon going to have a new terminal building with additional 4 stands.
Train: Train connectivity is established between Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad through trains run by Indian Railway. Recently Udaipur got connected with Delhi Kota and Mathura with superfast Mewar express on broad gauge line. Udaipur is now also connected with the Kolkatta, by the train "Ananya Express".
Distances of important cities from Udaipur: New Delhi (670 km), Jaipur (406 km), Mumbai (739 km), Ahmedabad (262 km), Jodhpur (275 km), Mount Abu (185 km), Agra (630 km), Chittorgarh (115 km).