Chittorgarh (also known as Chitaurgarh) is most certainly the city of heroes, heroines and epic tales. Stretching over the crest of a seven mile long hill and covering around 700 acres, the city proudly shows off it's numerous palaces, towers and temples – the envy of many dynasties who have tried to seize Chittorgarh throughout the ages.
The Fort at Chittorgarh was at the centre of three infamous sieges, the first in 1303 when the Pathan King Ala-uddin Khilji was so enraptured by the beauty of the resident Queen Padmini he vowed to take the fort, and with it the object of his desire. Later in 1535 when the fort was raided by the Sultan of Gujrat and many men sentenced to death, Rani Karnawati led the women of the city in committing Jauhar – self immolation, as the ultimate act of protest and sacrifice. The fort suffered it's final blow in 1568 when the notorious Mughal Emperor Akbar ransacked the fort and reduced it to a ruin.
Although the fort may have suffered at the hands of invaders, Chittorgarh still remains a popular destination with those who want to immerse themselves in the elaborate stories and romance of the Rajput.
More from Chittorgarh
Chittorgarh - Fort ChittorFort Chittor sits 180m above the town of Chittogarh and covers a huge 700 acres, and is easy to drive round. The steep mile long road up the hill goes through the seven gateways gateways to a flat plateau. The Sultan of Delhi invaded in 1303, obsessed by Rani Padmini, the queen of Chittor but rather than face the invaders and inevitable she led over 6000 women and children to commit self immolation and upon arriving at the fort the Sultan ordered all the temples and palaces to be torn down. Only the Padmni palace was left untouched, as it was there he had first glimpsed the queen. This palace was rebuilt in the 19th Century. The fort was invaded twice more before it was abandoned in 1567 following the third and final siege. In recent years many more structures have been rebuilt as part of a conservation project and most now appear to have stood the test of time exceedingly well!
Towers of ChittogarhThe Tower of Fame was built earlier than the Tower of Victory by 220 years and is the smaller of the two at 22m high. It was built by a wealthy Jain merchant to commemorate the 1st Jain Teerthankar and is covered with naked figures of the Digambars who believe nudity to be a prerequisite to the path to salvation. The Tower of Victory was built in 1440 by the Maharana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat and is dedicated to Vishnu. It is covered in carvings of hindu gods, seasons, musical instruments and other classic hindu iconography and stands 37m high and is constructed of red sandstone and white marble.
Castle BijaipurCastle Bijaipur was built by the younger brother of Maharana Pratap, Rao Shakti Singh Ji, in the the 16th Century. The castle was turned into a hotel in 1992 and has a stable on site of Mawari horses. The landscape surrounding Bijaipur is sandy with palm trees and cacti but a short horse trek around the village and the surrounding countryside also took us across arable land, accompanied most of the way by an amiable labrador, that is until he decided to chase off an entire treeful of monkeys singled pawed. Watching the sunset over the Vindhyachal Range from the back of a horse is a great way to round off a days sightseeing. A word of warning though, their Indian saddles are very different to European saddles and you may find yourself slightly more sore than expected the following day.
Bassi Wildlife SanctuaryThe Bassi Wildlife Sanctuary cover 15,290 hectares and is apparently home to panthers, wild boar and antelope which is odd as they have a cheetah painted on their sign! Despite no wildlife deigning to make themselves visible during our visit, (it was a very hot day) the drive round the park was like an off-roading adventure in its own right. Just as we were about to head back we came across one of the two dams in the park, the Bassi and Orai dams, and the landscape turned from dry and dusty to lush and green.