Chittorgarh city has developed at the base of a massive fort – “Chittorgarh Fort”. This fort overlooks the city from above a 180 mt high lone hill. The fort walls enclose about 700 acres of area within them and all the monuments which you will read about further are encased in this fort. At first glance you can make out that the fort would have been a town in itself. It has served as the capital of Mewar from the 13th century until 1567 when Akbar conquered it. As per historians, Chittorgarh was initially established by Mori rulers around the 5th century; as per this calculation it could be one of the oldest forts in India. In its heyday, this fort is said to have housed about 70,000 people and it has also served as home to the famous mystic poetess Meera Bai. It is approached by a steep serpentine road passing through seven defensive gates, all the gates were guarded by watch-towers and iron-spiked doors. It is due to this fort that Chittorgarh city has become one of the popular travel destinations in Rajasthan.
Tip – If you aren’t with your vehicle, you can hire a taxi or auto-rickshaw (tuk-tuk) from the city for about 4-5 hours which would be enough to explore this fort.
Monuments in Chittorgarh
Rana Kumbha’s Palace
The tour of Chittorgarh fort begins with this palace for it is close to the entrance. This is the largest monument in the fort. What we see today are the ruins of the palace which was built of stone with stucco covering. Just inside the entrance there is an elevated platform called ‘Suraj Gokhada’ where Rana Kumbha sat to watch the sun rise and pray to the tunes of the musicians. It is believed that the beautiful queen Padmini committed ‘Jauhar’ in one of the cellars below this palace to save herself from Alauddin Khilji.
Vijay Stambha (Victory Tower)
This victory tower is one of the most impressive monuments in Chittorgarh Fort. It can be spotted from various places in the city below. This restored tower was originally constructed in the middle of the 5th century to commemorate the victory over king of Malwa. It is an imposing nine-storeyed structure, 37 mt in height, and has exquisite carvings. You can climb up to the top and there are good views of the entire fort from up there.
Tip – Climbing up is a bit tiresome, people with walking or breathing difficulties might want to avoid.
This 13th century palace has been restored in the end of the 19th century and is located in the middle of a small lake. It is believed that the queen stood on the stairs outside this palace to show her glimpse in the waters to Alauddin Khilji which was his condition to leave Chittorgarh (he had laid a siege around the fort). Many historians disagree to this as they believe that a Rajput ruler would never agree to this demand.
There are many Hindu and Jain temples within the fort. Kumbh Shyam temple, which was constructed in 1448 AD, and Meera Temple are in the same enclosure. The Jain Sat Bis Deori was constructed in the 11th century. There is also a Kalika Mata temple which was originally a Sun temple and was rebuilt in the middle of the 16th century.
This reservoir is located near the Mahasati chowk. The water from a spring flows through a stone structure carved in the form of a cow’s mouth (called ‘Gaumukh’) into the reservoir. The area around this place is very soothing and offers beautiful views of the fort walls and the city below.
Kirti Stambh (Tower of Fame)
This tower was built in the 12th century and is dedicated to Lord Adinatha – the first Tirthankara of Jains. This exquisite structure possesses a height of about 22 metres and has intricately carved outer walls.
The cremation site of the Ranas and their wives is dotted with beautiful chhatris or cenotaphs built in their memory.
To see more pictures of Chittorgarh, click here.