Chittorgarh, the administrative head quarters of Chittorgarh District in Rajasthan, is an old city as an embodiment of Rajput tradition mixed with romance and courage. Mythological background of the city tells that it was built by the Pandava warrior Bhima. Chittorgarh is renowned world wide for its audacious history.
The fort at Chittorgarh (known as Chittor) is the greatest in Rajasthan, and is well worth reshuffling an itinerary to explore. The town itself is unspectacular, but the 700-acre complex standing on a rocky mountain plateau feels like the ultimate spot for a History Channel re-enactment. But there are no fallen actors here, just a series of stunning palaces, gates, temples and the startling Jaya Stambha.
History paints Chittor as strangely vulnerable three times when it was under prolonged attack, its soldiers chose death before dishonour. The Rajput romantics actually left the compound to charge the enemy, donning saffron robes and leaving their families to the funeral pyre. Whether staying put behind the fort's rolling stone walls would have changed Chittor's fate is today a matter for academics (and TV producers) to debate.
The entrance of the Chittorgarh is highly attractive with seven huge entries, namely Bhairon Pol, Lakshman Pol, Padan Pol, Hanuman Pol, Jorla Pol, Ganesh Pol and the main royal gate known as Ram Pol. Major attractions in Chittorgarh include the amazing Chittorgarh fort, Kithi Stamb, Victory tower or Vijay Stambh, Rani Padmini's Palace, Rana Kumbha's Palace and many beautiful imposing temples of great past. Chittorgarh bears many nice wild life sanctuaries in its breast attracting wild life lovers and nature lovers.
Chittor is mentioned in the Mahabharata Bhim, one of the Pandava heroes, struck the ground here so hard that water gushed out to form a large reservoir. But the fort dates from the 8th century, founded by Bappa Rawal of Sisodia. Chittor's first defeat occurred in 1303 when Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Pathan king of Delhi, besieged the fort, apparently to capture the beautiful Padmini, wife of the rana's (king's) uncle, Bhim Singh. When defeat was inevitable, the men rode out to die and the Rajput noblewomen, including Padmini, committed jauhar.
In 1535 it was Bahadur Shah, the sultan of Gujarat, who besieged the fort and, once again, the medieval dictates of chivalry determined the outcome. It's thought that 13, 000 Rajput women and 32, 000 Rajput warriors died following the declaration of jauhar.
The final sacking of Chittor came just 33 years later, in 1568, when the Mughal emperor Akbar took the town. Once again, the odds were overwhelming, and the women performed jauhar and 8000 orange-robed warriors rode out to die. On this occasion, Maharaja Udai Singh II fled to Udaipur, where he re-established his capital. In 1616, Jehangir returned Chittor to the Rajputs. There was no attempt at resettlement, though it was restored in 1905.