Chittorgarh in Rajasthan state of western India lies on the Berach River, a tributary of the Banas, and is the administrative headquarters of Chittorgarh District and a former capital of the Sisodia Rajput Dynasty of Mewar. The district was bifurcated and a new district namely Pratap Garh was created with certain portion taken from Udaipur district in the newly created district of Pratap Garh.
Fiercely independent, the fort of Chittor was under siege thrice and each time they fought bravely, thrice Jauhar was committed by the ladies and children. The sacrifice of Rao Jaimal and Patta, two brave army chieftains of Mewar, in the war against the Mughals (1568 AD) was so great that the Mughal Emperor Akbar installed their statues in the fort of Agra. It has also been a land of worship for Meera. Chittorgarh is home to the Chittorgarh Fort, the largest fort in India and Asia.
Ancient History Of Chittorgarh:
The antiquity of chittorgarh is difficult to trace, but it’s believed that Bhim the legendary figure of the Mahabharata, visited this place to learn the secrets of immortality and became the disciple of a sage, but his impatience to perform all the rites deprived him of his goal, and out of sheer anger he stamped on the ground creating a water reservoir, this reservoir is called as Bhimtal. It’s believed that Bappa Rawal the legendary founder of Sisodia clan, received Chittorgarh in the middle of 8th century, as a part of the dowry after marriage with last Solanki princess, after that his descendants ruled Mewar which stretched from Gujrat to Ajmer, up to the 16th century. The ancient Chittorgarh city is used to be on the back side of Chittorgarh Fort.
Siege of Chittorgarh(year 1567):
In October 1567, the Mughal forces of approximately 5,000 men led by Akbar surrounded and besieged 8,000 Hindu Rajputs in Chittorgarh Fort. Within a few months, Akbar’s ranks expanded to over 50,000 men and possibly more than 60,000 troops during the late phases of the siege, which ended in a decisive victory of the Mughals. The primary reason for Akbar’s attack was because the Rajput had begun to emerge as a dominant power after the defeat of the Lodi dynasty. The Rajputs were opposed to the rise of the Mughal Empire and often supported Akbar’s fellow Muslim rivals including Baz Bahadur, causing much tension in the region. Akbar set out on a series of campaigns against the Rajputs. In the year 1567 he fought many battles against the Rajputs and realized that the Rajput owned Chittorgarh Fort must be eliminated because it was used as a bastion for those who opposed him. On 23 October 1567, Akbar arrived and set up encampments. His personal presence in the battlefield was a message for the Rajput forces inside the fort that the siege was not a temporary affair. The next day, Akbar unleashed his powerful cannons, but within a few days of the siege it was evident that his mortars needed higher elevation. Akbar then ordered his men to build the Mohur Margi (Mohur Hill), also known as Coin Hill. After an arduous siege, Akbar ordered his men to lift baskets of earth during both day and night, in order to create a hill right in front of the fort by which the Mughal cannons could be placed. When the hill was completed, Akbar placed his cannons and mortars near its tip, but cannons were too slow to breach the thick stone walls of Chittorgarh Fort.
Akbar believed that the only way to achieve victory and break the deadlock was to blow a hole underneath Chittorgarh Fort. Akbar then organized his sappers to dig two tunnels and to plant two separate mines under the heavy stone walls of the fortress. More than 5000 Mughals then dug their way through a secret tunnel which neared the gates of Chittorgarh Fort, but one of the mines exploded prematurely during a military assault, killing about a hundred Mughal Sowars. The casualties on the Mughal side had risen to almost 200 men a day due to Rajput muskets and archers. As the siege of Chittorgarh continued, a massive Mughal army of nearly 60,000 gathered for battle. In this situation, Akbar had prayed for help for achieving victory and vowed to visit the tomb of the Sufi Khwaja at Ajmer if he was victorious. As the bombardment and the continuous assaults on Chittorgarh Fort continued, during one particular assault it is believed that a shot from Akbar’s own matchlock wounded or killed the commander of the already demoralized Hindu Rajputs. It was only when almost all the Rajput women committed Jauhar (self immolation) did The Mughals realize that the condition inside the fort was now out of control and that total victory was within grasp. The fortress of Chittor finally fell on February 1568 after a siege of four months, when it was stormed by the Mughal forces. Emperor Akbar ordered a general massacre and it is believed that thirty thousand soldiers and civilians were massacred in the aftermath. The only prominent commander who survived was Ram Singh Tomar of Gwalior, who later sacrificed his life in the battle field in famous Haldighati war of 1576.
Chittorgarh is located at 24.88°N 74.63°E. It has an average elevation of 394 metres (1292 ft).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.Chittorgarh is located between 23° 32′ and 25° 13′ north latitudes and between 74° 12′ and 75° 49′ east longitudes in the southeastern part of Rajasthan state.The district encompasses 10,856 square km (3.17 per cent of the Rajasthan State) area of land..
What To See And Do
FITTING SYMBOL OF RAJPUT SPIRIT
Chittorgarh Fort is a fitting symbol of the Rajput spirit. Set atop a 180 metre high hill and spread across 240 hectares, this majestic fort features in tales of courage, pride and romance that the bards of Rajasthan have been singing for centuries. Legend has it that the construction of the Chittorgarh Fort was begun by Bhim, one of the heroic Pandava brothers from Mahabharata, India’s eminent mythological epic. The fort houses several magnificent monuments, some unfortunately ravaged by the passage of time. The imposing structure takes one back to the days of conquests and tragedies, and its walls continue to ring with incredible tales of extraordinary men and women. A one-kilometre road weaves its way from the foothills to the summit, taking visitors through seven gates before arriving at Rampol (Gate of Ram). On the road between the second and the third gate, visitors get to see two ‘chattris’ (cenotaphs) built in honour of Jaimal and Kalla, heroes, who laid down their lives in the 1568 siege by Emperor Akbar. The main gate of the fort is Surajpol (Sun Gate).
RANI PADMINI’S PALACE
This palace plays an important role in Rajput history. The structure is built on the banks of a lotus pool and has a pavilion that provides privacy for the women of the royal family. Ala-ud-din Khilji, 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 battle to abduct her.
Vijay Stambh (the Tower of Victory) was built by Maharana Kumbha between 1440 AD and 1448 AD to immortalise his triumph of defeating the Muslim rulers of Malwa and Gujarat. Built partly from red sandstone and partly white marble, this architectural wonder is nine-storey tower decorated with detailed sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses. Narrow steps lead to the terrace where one can catch a spectacular view of the entire town from the balconies.
This Tower of Fame is dedicated to Adinathji, the 1st Jain Tirthankara (great teacher). Adorned by the figures of the Digambars (Jain monks), this seven-storied tower was built by a wealthy Jain merchant in 12th century AD.
FATEH PRAKASH PALACE
Constructed by Maharana Fateh Singh, this palace functioned as his residence. It was built in the Rajput style of architecture as a declaration of his taste for art and culture. The palace has a vast collection of wood crafts of Bassi village, post medieval statues of Jain Ambica and Indra from Rashmi village, weapons such as axes, knives and ancient shields, clay replicas of regional tribal people clad in their traditional costumes, paintings, and crystal ware. It has now been converted into a museum.
The fort of Chittor has six Jain temples contained within its walls. The largest among them is the temple of Bhagawan Adinatha which has 52 ‘devkulikas’.
KALIKA MATA TEMPLE
Built in 8th century AD, this ancient structure was initially constructed to worship the sun god. In the 14th century, the temple was dedicated to Goddess Kali, the symbol of power and valour
TULJA BHAVANI TEMPLE
Tulja Bhavani temple, an architectural wonder, is a Hindu temple of the goddess Durga, built in the 16th century by Banvir. Legend says that it is named after Banvir who donated various ornaments (Tula Dan) equaling his weight for relief funds.
RATAN SINGH PALACE
The winter palace of the royal family, it overlooks a small lake. Although fairly rundown now, it is an interesting place to explore and attracts many tourists.
RANA KUMBHA PALACE
A ruined edifice of great historical and architectural interest, this is one of the most massive monuments in the Fort of Chittor. The palace is believed to have underground cellars where Rani Padmini and other women committed ‘Jauhar’ (self-immolation).
KUMBHA SHYAM TEMPLE
The temple was constructed during the rule of Rana Kumbha and is built in the Indo-Aryan style popular in those times. It bears a strong connection to the mystic poetess Meerabai, a zealous devotee of Krishna’s. She was the wife of Prince Bhojraj.
Meerabai, an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna’s, worshipped him at this temple. The structure is designed in the classic North Indian style of temples. It rises from a raised plinth and its conical roof can be seen from far. The temple houses a beautiful shrine surrounded by an open porch with four small pavilions in four corners.
Where To Stay
Many hotels and Resorts are available in Chittorgarh.
How To Get Around
Chittorgarh by Air
The nearest airport is Udaipur (Dabok Airport). The airport is located 70 kilometers from Chittorgarh and linked by daily air service from New Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
Chittaurgarh Junction is a busy junction of Western Railway of Indian Railways, Ratlam Division. It has direct rail links with all major Indian cities including Ajmer, Udaipur, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Yeshwantpur, Ahmadabad, Surat, Indore, Ratlam, Gwalior, Bhopal, Nagpur, Bilaspur, and Kota.
The completed Golden Quadrilateral highway system passes through Chittorgarh, connecting it to much of the rest of India. The East West Corridor (Express Highway) also crosses it. Chittorgarh is situated on National Highway No. 76 & 79. National Highway 76 connects to Kota with a driving time of 2 hours.
Chittorgarh by Road
Chittorgarh is well connected to all parts of India by roads. The Golden Quadrilateral Road Project and North-South-East-West corridor expressways pass through Chittorgarh City. The bus stand (bus depot) of Chittorgarh is located between the old and new cities. There are good bus services (private as well as state-owned) available for Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Bundi, Kota, Udaipur and other major cities.
Rajasthan Roadways (RSRTC) provides a service for visiting areas around Chittorgarh. Rajasthan Roadways also has premier services called Pink Line, Silver line and Sleeper Coaches (Grey Line).