Chittaurgarh Fortress : After booking our tickets directly to Udaipur we found that Chittaurgarh Fortress is enroute so we deviated the plan and had a break journey to visit the fortress. This was a wise move we saved a considerable time and money in the process and covered this historical place. It is convenient to hire an auto directly from the railway station unto the fortress. Otherwise one needs to go to transit point known as OC stand from wherein one can have a share rickshaw or budget travel to cover the entire fortress. We had a window of roughly 5 hours before we had a connecting train to Udaipur. We finished our lunch and boarded an auto which was a share one to OC stand, in the meanwhile we found that the driver was interested to take us around the fortress and return to the station. We bargained and fixed a price for the same. It was really convenient since we could leave behind our shoes and belongings safely in the rickshaw. Our luggage however we decided to keep it in the cloak room at the railway station itself.
Enroute we allowed the driver to pick up and drop some passengers. He made some extra bucks and in turn he acted as a guide to our entire trip. There were number of arched gateways for the fortress which has a circumference in the shape of fish for 13 kms. In all there are 7 main gateways leading to the fort. They are namely the Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jodla Pol, Laxman Pol and the main gate is known as Ram Pol.
Historical Background of the Fortress :
The fort is supposed to have been built in the 7th century AD by the local Mauryas who might have been feudatory to Emperor Asoka, many Buddhist stupas are found in the precincts of the fortress lake. Some legendary tales attribute the fortress construction to Bheem of Mahabharat. He is said to have struck the ground to ensure that water sprouted and it is known as Bheem Kund.
Allauddin Khilji laid seize of the fortress in 1303 inorder to capture the queen Rani Padmini. He was fascinated by her hearsay beauty equating to the legendary Cleopatra. He wanted to secure her for his harem. King Ratan Singh was deceitfully captured by Allauddin Khilji and a ransom was sought to seek possession of Padmini in return. However the queen laid down a condition that he can see through the mirror, which increased his lust to possess her. He was not willing to release her husband. Instead she once laid a condition that she will be accompanied by her consorts to visit him. She never turned up instead there were guerilla soldiers sent to release the captured King. There was a ferocious battle which ensued the escape. Queen Padmini and the entire clan of ladies jumped into the funeral pyre. Thus the ancient tradition of Jauhar was committed to maintain the honour and dignity of the royal ladies. Ratan Singh lost the battle to his enemies amidst huge bloodshed and massacre. The fort was handed over to Allauddin Khilji’s son Khizir and it was renamed Khizarbad.
Chittaurgarh witnessed number of intrigues and conspiracies over the years. It was usurped by Hammir Singh and later his grandson Rana Kumbha who reigned the kingdom between 1433 to 1468. During his period he fortified the entire kingdom with 32 forts including Kumbalgarh named after him. He was assassinated by Rana Uday Singh I who was his own son. Sangram Singh took over the reigns and he fought a valiant battle against Babur 1527. Later Bahadur Shah laid seize over the fort in 1535. Once again women committed Jauhar at the fortress.
In 1567 Akbar invaded the fortress and laid seize for almost 6 months before capturing the fortress among the ruins of Jauhar once again committed by royalty.
Some of the important landmarks at the fortress are as follows :
Vijay Stambh : It is also known as tower of Victory. It was erected by Rana Kumbha during 1458 to 1468. The tower raises to above 37 meters high, with 8 storeys and 157 circular steps leading upto the balcony. The dome is illuminated nowadays during night times.
Kirti Stambh : It is built by a jain merchant in dedication of Lord Adinath. He is the first Jain Thirtankar and teacher. This tower raises above 22 meters in height. A narrow staircase leads to 6 storey balcony.
Rana Kumbha Palace : At the entrance to Vijay Stambh is the palace which is now in ruins. The palace seems to have been witness to many historical events such Panna Dhai substituting her son to save Mahrana Udai Singh, Rani Padmini committing Jauhar in underground cellar, and many other events changing the course of history.
Fateh Prakash Palace : This palace is now converted into a museum.
Gaumukh Reservoir : A perennial spring fills the tank inside the fortress. This premise has a small temple too.
Padmini Palace : A three storied structure is surrounded by water, wherein resided Queen Padmini. Allauddin Khilji is supposed to have had a glimpse of the queen at this premises. He was obviously enamoured by the beauty of the queen that he literally destroyed the entire fortress in frustration when the queen committed Jauhar.
Another theory circulated among the guides of the area is that Allauddin Khilji was show the reflection of the queen Padmini on the still waters of the Padmini lake palace inside the fortress. How far it is true or fable is proved by the fact, that there is indeed a clear reflection possibility during the evening times, but even the breeze can cause a ripple effect disturbing the image. Currently a movie is being produced and directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali glorying her story. It has courted controversy too while shooting.
Jain Temple : One of the well preserved ancient structure is dedicated to one of the thirtankaras of Jain religion.
Kali Mata temple : This temple is located close to Padmini Palace. It is a place wherein sacrifices of animals take place to please the goddess.
For Budget oriented travelers one can go near the bus stand and get hold of share rikshaws who charge per pax and autos are available outside the station and one has to bargain hard to get a good deal which is often not possible because of the union. The other best option is to check out the same auto guy asking him to drop near the bus stand and bargain with him enroute. If one finds his reasonable quote than hire him. We had to depend on the return auto since we had limited time to board the train to Udaipur. However one should be wary of auto guys he tried to trick us by not showing Padmini palace which we managed to find it situated near Kalimata temple just a walking distance, the auto guy was hesitant to take us there stating that he has to go all round.
One can literally spend the entire day discovering various monuments of the fortress. The place can be extremely hot, it is better to equip oneself with a good polaroid glares, sunscreen and Umbrella. Winter season would be best time to explore the fortress.