History of Chittorgarh

Chittorgarh, 112 km from Udaipur is the most eventful fort in India. Built on a 500-foot-high hill, the fort stands at a height of 1350 feet above sea level and covers 700 acres of the hill-top area. This well-planned fort could hold against any enemy attack for a long time, because of its perpetual fresh-water sources, scope for cultivation, and avenues for secret contact with villages outside. According to a legend, Bhima, the second Pandava brother in the epic Mahabharata, was the first to found a citadel here. Through supernatural means as he had little time to raise physically a dwelling here. However, historically it is suggested that a personality of the Maurya dynasty, Chitrangada, settled down here. The hill got name Chitrakoot from him and in course of time was shortened to Chittor.

In the 8th century a prince of Idar Bappa Rawal, occupied this fort. The exciting history of the fort begins with him. Chittorgarh has seen great rulers. However, the names of two royal ladies, Rani Padmini and Meera Bat, have a special place in the Indian mind.

Rani Padmini was the queen of Rawal Ratan Singh and her beauty had become a legend in her lifetime. In 1302 AD Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi, made an attempt to invade Chittor. The Rajputs offered much resistance and the Sultan realized that it was not an easy task. He sent a request to have a glimpse of Rani Padmini so that he could depart with satisfaction. The royal family did not conceded to the request but conceded that the Sultan could only see her reflection in a mirror. Alauddin agreed to this.

A mirror was placed against the wall of a room with a slight slant so that it could reflect the queen standing outside, on the balcony of a small palace in a lake. Standing below the mirror Alauddin was allowed to have a glimpse of the reflection. It is difficult to say whether what Alauddin saw was- Rani .Padmini's reflection or that of one of her beautiful maids!

As the Sultan took leave of Rawal Ratan, the latter, in accordance with the ideal of hospitality, went to see him off beyond the gate. At once Alauddin's men waiting in ambush captured him and led him away to their camp. Word was sent that the king would not be released until Rani Padmini came over to Alauddin. The Rani on the pretence of yielding went to the Sultan, as her dignity demanded, accompanied with 700 maids. A thrilled Alauddin got ready to welcome her. His camp went festive. Seven hundred palanquins, each carried by six bearers, reached Alauddin's camp. The Rani's chief maid told the Sultan that the Rani would like to meet her husband for the last time.

That was granted. Immediately, 1400 soldiers burst out of the 700 palanquins. The bearers too turned soldiers. They took out arms from the palanquins and wreaked havoc in Alauddin's camp. Alauddin narrowly escaped. Rawal Ratan returned to his fort. One who had gone in the guise of Rani Padmini was her uncle, Gora. He lost his life in the operation.

Alauddin, sulking under the humiliation, devoted all his resources in raising a greater and more ferocious army. He attacked Chittor again the next year. Saffron-clad Rajputs fought valiantly, but when it became obvious that the fort would fall, Rani Padmini, along with other women of the fort, entered an underground hall and set it afire - committing Johar or Sati.

Meera Bai belonged to the early 16th century. She was the queen of Bhojraj. Since her childhood she was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. She sang out her yearning for the Lord and went into ecstasy. Her husband erected a Krishna temple inside the fort for her, but her mystic aspirations did not allow her to remain within the fort. She wandered in places sanctified by Lord Krishna. The last she had been seen was in Dwarka. Her husband had by then died. Some of her kinsmen went there to bring her back to Chittor. She interned herself in the deity's chamber - never to be seen again. She physically got immersed in the idol; that is the explanation the legend offers.

Akbar, the Mughal Emperor, struck Chittor in 1563 AD. The siege continued for a long time. It is doubtful if Akbar could have ever taken the fort through battles. Unfortunately, the food stock in the fort was exhausted and there was no chance of obtaining adequate quantity of food from outside. A great flame was lighted. Thousands of women embraced the rising flames, while the men folk pounced upon the Mughal army. They died, but not before reducing the enemy force to its rump.

There are seven majestic gateways to this great fort which has the several monuments.

Enquire Now

Enquire Now