Friday, April 27, 2018

Northern Sojourn Day IX: Chittorgarh – Fort, Sieges, Maharanas and Mirabai,

@Chittorgarh Railway Station

It’s only a couple of hours journey from Udaipur to Chittorgarh. Train was crossing the desert like terrain the night. While I was approaching the limits of Chittor, stories of multiple sieges and other battles Chittor witnessed came to my mind. So as the valor and sacrifice of thousands fought and died for Mewar kingdoms during those bloody sieges. Was that the sound of numerous women of Mewar who committed Jauhar? Thinking about Jauhar itself brings lot of terrible images to the mind.

Unlike all other places I visited previously in this journey, my train reached Chittorgarh on time. Irony is, I desperately wanted this train to be late. Problem is my room booking at railway station starts from next day morning!!! To much time left for morning. I walked towards sleeper class waiting room and found an empty chair. Next train came and went. On the other end of the room, so one just vacated a chair structure having three seats. I went there and tried to sleep. Night slowly passed by; it was no a place for comfortable sleep. In between I woke up adjusted mu pose and slept again. By 7.30 I woke up from the chair, took the bag and went for retiring room.

After having a brief sleep and bath, I went outside to start my literary. I got a shared auto, from railway station entrance which took me close to fort. Driver showed another auto going to the fort. I went there and got in. There was one more couple in that auto going to visit the fort. Along with them I also started my journey to one of the most illustrious fort in Indian history – Chittorgarh Fort.

Chittorgarh - History

It is believed that, Chittorgarh was originally called Chitrakuda and was founded by king Chitranga from local Mauryan dynasty. Located on the banks of Gambhiri and Berach rivers, this city served as the capital of Sisodia Rajputs until they shifted their capital to Udaipur.

Chittorgarh Fort (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Located on top of a hill, this fort covers an area of approx. 700 acres. This is one of the biggest fort complexes in Asia. Seven gateways built using giant stone structures provided entry to this fort. Main gate is known as Ram Pol (Ram refers to Lord Ram and Pol means gate). Other gates are, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jodla Pol, Laxman Pol, Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol. These massive gates had its own defence mechanism to fend of enemy elephants; parapets on these gates also provided ideal location for archers to aim and shot arrows towards invading army.

We entered the fort through a road which have some sharp turns. From the top (sunset view point), one can see the bird’s view of modern day Chittorgarh blow. As the fort covers a lot of area, one might need a vehicle to cover all the land and see monuments.

Mewar kingdoms controlled the fort from 7th century onward. By 9th century, fort passed to the hands of Paramara dynasty. They ruled it till the end of 13th century.


During its heydays, Chittorgarh witnessed multiple sieges. Blood flowed like water during those sieges. Probably the earliest one was from Delhi.

1303 - Aladdin Khalji

Aladdin Khalji came here and laid siege to the fort. After an eight month long struggle he conquered the fort by defeating Rana Ratan Singh. It is believed that, after the conquest around 30,000 people were massacred in the fort. Aladdin gave the fort to his son Khizr Khan (or Khidr Khan) and returned to Delhi. Chittor fort was renamed as Khizrabad, a name which didn't stick for long time. Khizr Khan controlled the fort for 8 years and it went to Maldeva. He ruled Chittor for another 7 years. Later Hammir Singh took control of the fort and established his dynasty - 'Sisodia dynasty' - as the rulers of Mewar.

Rana Kumbha

One prominent king who came later in this dynasty is Rana Kumbha. He built numerous forts and ruled the kingdom for 35 years. As per some accounts, he built as many as 32 forts including the famous - Kumbalgarh. He is also credited for Kumbalgarh's 36 km long wall making it one of the lengthiest walls in the world. Unfortunately, he was assassinated by his son Rana Udaysimha (Uday Singh I). In later power struggles, Kumbha's another son Rana Raimal defeated Udaysimha and ascended to the throne of Mewar. After Raimal's death in 1509, his son Sangram Singh (famously known as Rana Sanga) came to power.

Rana Sanga and First Battle of Panipat

Rana Sanga achieved significant victories during his reign. He defeated combined forces of Sultan Muzaffar of Gujarat and Sultan of Malwa. He conquered some districts of Malwa after a victory over Ibrahim Lodhi in Battle of Khatoli (Gwalior). In this battle Rana Sanga lost his left arm and suffered significant injuries in one leg. Mewar was also successful in Battle of Dholpur against Lodi.

During this time, Sanga offered to join Babur in his attack against Lodi. Plan was to attack Lodi together.  Sanga would attack Agra and Babur will attack Delhi. Babur went ahead and attacked Delhi but Sanga didn’t made any moves. Babur conquered both cities. Unlike his grandfather Timur, he decided to stay in India. Victory in first battle of Panipat (April 21, 1526) against Lodi made Babur as a force to recon with. His cannons were one of the most powerful weapons northern India ever witnessed.

Sanga built a big confederacy. Almost all Rajput kingdoms joined him in his battle against Babur. Afghan owing allegiance to Mahmud Lodi - numbering close to 10,000 also joined with Rana Sanga. Later during the battle, Silhadi of Raisen deserted Rana's camp and joined with Babur with his strong contingent. Though he was able to save his life, Rana Sanga lost the battle and his confederacy collapsed. He tried to continue his fight against Babur. It is believed that, fearing another battle (which might become suicidal) with Babur his nobles poisoned him to death.

1532, 1535 - Bahadur Shah (Sultan of Gujrat)

In 1532 forces of Bahadur Shah laid siege to Chittor fort. Chittor paid him off with large ransom and he went back only to come again 3 years later. In 1535 he again besieged the fort. This time Bahadur Shah conquered and sacked the fort. It is believed that, around 13,000 women committed jauhar this time. Bahadur Shah's was not able to hold on to the fort for long as he was soon defeated by Humayun at Mandasur, Mandu and later at Champaner. During this time, Sisodias regained control of Chittor.

1567 - Akbar

Last siege of Chittor was started by Mughal Emperor Akbar on 20 October 1567. It is believed that, Akbar wanted an easy access to important seaports of Gujrat and Malwa. Amber already came under him. UdaiSingh II of Mewar was ready to accept Mughal suzerainty and pay tribute. However, he was not ready to lower his head in front of Akbar.

Before siege, Udai Singh placed the fort under the command of Jaimal and Patta and left 8000 soldiers and 1000 musketeers for the defence of Chittor. Akbar's army captured the fort in February 1568. However, he was not able to capture Maharana Udai Singh II.

During this time, Mughal army under Asaf Khan and Wazir Khan captured Mandalgarh. One contingent under the command of Asaf Khan went to Rampur another one under the command of Hussain Quli Khan went to Udaipur and Kumbalgarh to conquer Rana's territories. Next year Akbar's forces conquered Ranthambor fort as well.

Maharana Pratap and Battle of Haldigati

Rana Udai Singh died four years later. His son - Pratap Singh (Maharana Pratap) took over the reins and fought against Mughal army. Despite losing to Mughal forces in the Battle of Haldighati he continued his fight against Mughal forces.

In 1615 son of Maharana Pratap - Amar Singh I - accepted Mughal suzerainty. As a goodwill gesture, Jahangir (Akbar's son and then Emperor) gave Chittor fort to Amar Singh I. There was a condition for this transfer – damages suffered by the fort during the siege should never be repaired. Shift of Mewar capital to Udaipur and end of military significance for Chittor rang the death bell for more than 800 years of Chittor’s position.


For any fort to face siege successfully, it is important to maintain enough reserves of food and water. On some accounts, Chittor had close to 84 water bodies with a combined capacity of 4bn liters.

My Journey

After having a bird’s view of Chittor city in the plains the first place I went was Kalika Mata Temple

Kalika Mata Temple

It is believed that, this temple was built in 8th century for worshipping Sun God. Later in 14th century temple was dedicated to Goddess Kali. This is an active temple with daily poojas. After climbing and array of steps I reached the sanctum.

Rani Padmini's Palace

Next in line was Rani Padmini’s palace. This palace is one of the earliest structures in fort complex and believed to be the home for Rani Padmini. One need to buy separate tickets for visiting this place. Centuries of wear and tear took its toll on this structure. What you see now is a worn-out remnant of a majestic structure from past.

Earlier this palace was surrounded by water, making it one of India’s early such palaces. Probably in rainy season it may again get surrounded by water. Currently water is low and only covers two sides.

Kirti Stambha (Tower of Fame)

From Rani Padmini’s palace we went to Kirthi Stambha. This big tower with artworks is dedicated to Adinathji (1st Jain Tirthankara). Built by a wealthy Jain merchant (Jijaji Rathod) in 12th century, Kirthi Stambha has a narrow stairway till 6th floor. Top pavilion was added later. Currently staircase is closed to visitors. I spent some time looking at this beautiful tower and then went to Jain temple.

Jain Temples

There are multiple Jain temples in fort complex. The only one I visited was located next to Kirthi Sthamba.


Next destination was one of the majestic gates of Chittor fort. From is bad shape one can conclude that this part of fort suffered heavily probably during the last siege. Some reconstruction was done. One local tour guide was explaining to their group that invading armies were camped and attacked the fort from the vast plains below. Currently those plains are largely covered in greenery.

Vijay Stambh (Tower of Victory)

After a while I reached Vijay Stambh.

This tower was constructed by Maharana Kumbha in memory of his victories over Mahmud Shah I Khalji, then Sultan of Malwa. It’s a nine-story building and bigger than Kirthi Stambha. Built using red sandstone and white marble this tower is decorated with sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Here also a narrow staircase is built to reach the top. As in Kirthi Stambha stair cases are closed for visitors. If so many visitors used that staircases, then the tower is not going to last long.

Next to Victory pillar there is an elevated platform. It is believed that Johar was committed at this place.

Samadisvar Shiva Temple

This temple is located next to Johar place. This is an active temple and daily poojas are going on here. I went inside. This place was too much crowded. A big tour group from a school almost filled each inch of vacant space. Next to Shiv temple it is Gaumukh reservoir

Gaumukh Kund

This was a deep tank located at one side of fort and fed by a spring which emerges from a rock in the shape of cow’s mouth (therefore the reservoir is known as Gaumakh Kund. This pool served as one of the main source of water during sieges. There was a big queue to reach the rock. I also join the queue.

By the way one thing with queues in India is, it is totally useless. People hardly form queue. Even if someone forms there will always be someone who break it and go to the front. People who are in the queue, not interested in picking up a fight hardly object. Now behind that guy another will come and soon there will be a second queue. Then a third queue. Then a struggle to see who goes first. This is not without exceptions, some of the most efficient queue systems are also in India. No, it is not the queue in front of temples, but the queue in front of Kerala’s beverages shops!!!

Just between the goumukh and rest of the place there is a narrow path. Those who go to Gomukh to touch the rock and water must come back through same way. I was patiently waiting, and people were jumping from behind on both sides. Finally, I reached the kund and then came back. On a near by stone wall someone carved a lady’s figure which is believed to be rani Padmini’s.

Meerabai Temple

This is one of the most famous temples in fort complex.

Meerabai is one of the most famous poets of Bhakti movement and complete devotee of Lord Krishna. She was born in a noble family of Merta and later married (probably at the age of 18) to crown prince of Mewar - Bhoj Raj (he was the eldest son of Rana Sanga). From childhood itself she was completely a Lord Krishna devotee. Though Bhoj Raj initially tried to pull Meera to worldly affairs, he later developed a relationship of friendship and understanding with Meera. Probably in 1526(years are contested) Bhojraj died due to battle wounds.

There are stories of multiple assassination attempts on her.

Stories suggest that, she later left Mewar kingdom and went on pilgrimage and lived in Dwaraka or Vrindavan and finally merged in to an idol of Krishna.

One of her poems,

"My Dark One has gone to an alien land.
He has left me behind, he's never returned, he's never sent me a single word.
So I've stripped off my ornaments, jewels and adornments, cut my hair from my head.
And put on holy garments, all on his account, seeking him in all four directions.
Mira: unless she meets the Dark One, her Lord, she doesn't even want to live."

— Mira Bai, Translated by John Stratton Hawley

When she came to Chittorgarh fort, she asked a Krishna temple for personal use. Her father in law, Maharana Sangram Singh built a small temple next to existing Kumbha temple. This temple was later known as Kumbha Shyam Temple. She continued her worship of Lord Krishna there.

Jain Swethamber Temple

This is a beautiful Jain temple located next to Fateh Prakash Mahal. I went inside; spent a little time there and came out.

Rajastan Hasthkala Centre

While coming back auto driver took me to Rajasthan Handicraft emporium. As per them all those saris are made from different fruits etc by local artisans. As per them one specialty of these saris is it will produce a nice fragrance whenever it was pulled from water. That guy even demonstrated it to me, and the fragrance was there. Price ranges from 400 to 3000. I paid for two and they sent it over VPP. After some days, saris finally reached home. Irony was, I was not able to demonstrate any scent at home!!! I specifically asked how long the smell will last he told 2 years or so. In any case saris looked good. In case you are buying don’t expect fragrance and try it there itself. Its width may not be enough for you.

Gambhiri River Bridge

While going back to Chittor railway station, we reached Gambhiri river bridge. This bridge was built using stone and she has nine slightly pointed arches and one semi-circular arch. It is believed that, this bridge was built by Kizir Khan (son of Aladdin Khilji) after the conquest of Chittorgarh in 1303. Striking some bells? Well, if it was built during that time then this Gambhiri bridge is more than 700 years old.  Built mainly for moving horses, animals, humans in that era; this bridge withstood all wear and tear, continuous water flow and still good enough for motorized vehicles.

By afternoon - around 2.30 - I reached railway station. I was very much hungry by this time. After searching for restaurants, I finally reached Dominos and ordered Mexican green wave pizza. Day long walk made me very much tired and I slept. By the time I woke up it was 6.30 in the evening. Still close to four and half hours for train to Indore. Finally, it came, and I reached Indore by next day morning 9.30am.


Other main places in and around fort complex are,

1. Fateh Prakash Palace
Located near Rana Kumbha Palace, this palace was built by Maharana Fateh Singh in Rajput style. This was Fateh Singh's residence as well.

2. Rana Kumbha Palace
This place - now only ruins - is located near Vijay Stambh. It is believed that this palace had underground cellars. It is believed that, Rani Padmini and others committed Jauhar here. Founder of Udaipur, Maharana Udai Singh II, also born here. Rani Meera, the famous poet saint, also lived in this palace. Royal Treasury was also located nearby.

3. Suraj Pole
4. Vidyanath Mahadev Temple
5. Sardeshawar Mahadev Temple
6. Ambey Mata Temple
7. Hanuman Temple
8. Lakshmi Temple
9. Shanidev Temple
10.Rana Ratan Mahal etc.


1. Wikipedia
2. Chittaurgarh’s 700-year-old bridge (

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