The Chittor Fort, also known as Chittorgarh (Garh stands for Fort), is considered as one of the largest forts in India. Located on the banks of river Gambhiri and Berach, atop a 180 m high hill in Rajasthan state of western India, Chittorgarh stands as a testimony of the Rajput pride and valour. Its history is written in blood and sacrifice. According to a folk legend, Chittorgarh was originally called “Chitrakut”, named after its builder Chitranga. It is also said that, before the onset of the 7th century it was built and ruled by the local Mauryas. Later, it became the capital of Mewar, ruled by the Sisodia and Gahlot kings.
The fort of Chittorgarh was attacked thrice – by Allaudin Khalji (who was said to be obsessed by the unrivaled beauty of Rani Padmini and desired to possess her at any cost), in 1303 AD, by Gujarat’s Sultan Bahadur Shah in 1535 AD and by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1567 AD. Thrice the ladies of Chittorgarh sacrificed their lives in the burning pyres to keep their honour by performing Jawhar Brata. Each time the Rajput warriors fought fiercely against the attacking Muslims. The bravery of Gora and Badal in the war against Allaudin Khalji and the sacrifice of Rao Jaimal, Patta and Rana Protap in the war against the Mughals have become legendary. The first Jawhar Brata in Chittorgarh was led by Rani Padmini in 1303 and later by Rani Karnavati in 1535. It was also performed in 1568, after the Mughal Emperor Akbar captured Chittorgarh in 1568. It may be mentioned here that, after the fall of Chittorgarh, the capital was shifted to Udaipur, located at the foothills of the Aravalli Range.
Built in the 7th century, and covering a total area of 700 acres, the huge fort is surrounded by a massive circular wall, accessible through seven huge gates. Locally, the gates are called as Pols. The gates are made up of strong iron spikes and were used as watchtowers by the vigilant guards.
Inside the massive fort, there are various well-designed palaces, along with the huge towers, temples and splendid cenotaphs. The palace of Rani Padmini exhibits the marvels of Rajput architecture. It is said that, this is palace from which Alauddin Khilji was allowed to watch the reflection of the Rani, through a mirror. Maharana Udai Sing, the founder of Udaipur, was born in Rana Kumbha’s palace. Rani Meera Bai also lived in this palace. The palace was equipped with underground cellars and in one of the cellars Rani Padmini committed Jawhar, along with other ladies. Today, the palace is in ruins.
Chittor has two towers. Kirti Stambh and Vijay Stambh. Built in the 12th century by Biherwal Mahajan Sanaya of Digambar group, the 72 feet high well decorated Kirti Stambh was dedicated to Rishabhanatha, also known as Adinatha, the first Tirthankara. Vijay Stambh, or the Tower of Victory, is 122 feet high and stands on a ten feet high base. This was built by Maharana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over the rulers of Malwa and Gujarat in 1440. The nine storey tower is equipped with 157 steps to go to the top and is adorned with carvings and sculptures.
Apart from six Jain temples and the famous Meera Bai’s temple of Lord Krishna, Chhitorgar also has the ancient and beautiful temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. Built in 8th century and known as the Kalika Mata Temple, it was originally a Sun temple.
Despite it is a ruined citadel, Chittorgarh Fort still stands today as a symbol of Rajput spirit, dignity and glorious tradition. In 2013, it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Committee.