The most romantic name in Rajasthan is Chittaur. Chittorgarh was
founded by Bappa Rawal in 8th century and is situated at an altitude
of 408 mts above sea level. Chittorgarh is known for its massive fort
which is 3 miles long and 495 feet high and also for Vijaystambha or
the Tower of Victory. Standing tall in one of the oldest cities in
Rajasthan, the Chittorgarh fort is perched on a 152 m high rocky hill.
Chittorgah fort is the India's largest fort and the ultimate symbol of
Rajput chivalry and pride. The ascent to the Chittorgarh fort is led
by a winding road defended by seven fortified gateways or 'pols'.
There are 7 gateways to the main gate which are Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol,
Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jorla Pol, Lakshman Pol and Ram Pol. The
Suraj Pol is the gate on the east. On the climb, there are two
chhatris where Jaimal and Kalla, heroes of the 1568 reign, fell during
the struggle against Akbar. Near the Padan Pol is the memorial of
Chittor is more than a ruined citadel, it is a symbol. It stands for
all that was brave, true and noble in the Rajput tradition. Chittaur
was sacked three times, and on each occasion the rite of Jauhar was
performed. Jauhar is the mass self sacrifice in a sacred fire done by
the women and children of the Rajput kings to escape dishonour from
the enemies. The first was in 1303 when Allauddin Khilji, the Sultan
of Delhi coveted the famous Rajput beauty Rani Padmini whose face he
had seen reflecting on a mirror. Rani Padmini led the Jauhar rather
than submit to dishonour. The second was in 1533 when the Sultan of
Gujarat attacked Bikramjeet of Chittaur. Rani Karnavati, a Bundi
Princess, take the jauhar in which many women and children perished.
Her own infant son, Udai Singh, was smuggled out of Bundi to preserve
the line. Udai Singh returned as a child to Chittaur and he lived to
inherit the throne of Chittaur. But his traumatic childhood had taught
him that discretion was certainly to be preferred to valour, so when
in 1567, Mughal emperor Akbar beseiged Chittaur, Udai Singh escaped
leaving its defence to two sixteen year old heroes, Jaimal of Bednore
and Patta of Kelwa. They died in true Rajput tradition after the
jauhar had been proclaimed and Akbar, taking no chances, razed the
fort to rubble. Chittaur was never inhabited again but it always
asserted the heroic spirit of Rajput warriors. Udai Singh built his
new capital in Udaipur.
It is believed that Bhim, the legendary figure of the Mahabharta,
visited this place to learn the secrets of immortality and became the
disciple of a saint, but his impatience to perform all the rites
deprived him of his goal, and out of sheer anger he stamped on ground
creating water reservoir, this reservoir is now known as Bhim Lat. It
is also believed that Bappa Rawal the legendary founder of the Sisodia
clan, received Chittaur in the middle of 8th century, as a part of the
dowry after marriage with the last Solanki princess. After that his
descendants ruled Mewar which stretched from Gujarat to Ajmer, upto
the 16th century.
Vijay Stambh or Tower of Victory
An outstanding feature of the fort is the Vijay Stambh or the Tower of
Victory. This imposing 37 metres high structure with nine storeys is
covered with exquisite sculptures of Hindu deities. It was built in
1440 AD by Maharana Kumbha, a powerful ruler of Mewar to commemorate
his victory over the Muslim rulers of Malawi and Gujarat.
Kirti Stambh or Tower of Fame :
Kirti Stambh, a 22 meters high tower
was built by a wealthy Jain merchant in the 12th century AD. This
tower is dedicated to Adinathji, the first of the Jain Tirthankaras
and is decorated with figures of the Jain pantheon.