Chittor established in 728 AD by Bappa Rawal is one of the oldest cities of Rajasthan. The imposing Chittorgarh Fort here among the oldest in the state is not only grand to look at but also has equally grand stories attached to it. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chittorgarh fort might be in ruins now but that doesn’t diminish its importance.
The fort has total seven gates or Pol- Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jodla Pol, Laxman Pol and Ram Pol which is the main gate. A circular road in the fort links all the gates.
Vijay Stambh is called the symbol of Chittor and was built by Rana Kumbha to celebrate his victory over Mahmud Shah I Khilji. The 72 feet high Kirti Stambh built by a businessman, Jijaji Rathore is dedicated to the first Jain tirthankar Adinath.
There are 130 temples in the fort premises. The most popular ones are- Meerabai Temple, Kumbha Shyam Temple (Varaha Temple), Kalika Mata temple and Tulja Bhawani temple.
The three-storied Rani Padmini’s palace is surrounded by a water-body. Legend has it that Sultan of Delhi Alauddin Khilji saw the Padmavati’s image in the same water-body and got attracted to her.
The fort has another impressive palace known as Rana Kumbha Palace. This is the place where Rani Padmini, Rani Nagmati and other women of the fort did Jauhar. Jauhar was a Rajput tradition where women immolated themselves on burning fire when the defeat in a war was certain. It was done to not get caught by vicious attackers. The brave Rajput warriors fought to death but never surrendered. This reflects the courage and pride of Rajput clan.
Chittorgarh Fort was attacked thrice, once each by Alauddin Khilji, Bahadur Shah and Akbar. The story of the attack by, Alauddin Khilji is the most well-known. Poet Malik Mohammad Jayasi wrote a poem known as Padmavat which mentions the legend. According to the poem- Rani Padmini or Padmavati was the wife of Rawal Ratan Sen the ruler of Chittor. Padmavati was exceptionally beautiful and hearing about her beauty, Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittorgarh to get the queen. A battle ensued where Ratan Sen was killed and Rani Padmavati along with Rani Nagmati and other women committed Jauhar.
The authenticity of this story has not been established but that hasn’t made it any less popular. Jauhar was anyway a tradition. It shows that Rajput women were symbols of gallantry, honor and culture. The upcoming Hindi movie ‘Padmavati’ has got mired in controversies over various events depicted in it. The idea of taking creative liberties might not have gone down well with some people but the fact remains that a movie cannot lessen a fearless woman. Whatever is shown in a movie can’t take away from history and what Rajput women stand for.
If you are also enamored by the legends and want to witness the place where it all happened, head to Chittorgarh Fort.