¤ The Colossal Walls
Standing on a rocky plateau on a 500 feet high hill, the 700 acre
fort went through three sieges, and each time Chittor turned out the
loser. But that did not mean that the fort was inferior to any other
in Rajasthan. It was just that that the Rajputs had a habit of riding
out to meet the enemy outside the safety of their walls instead of
allowing the enemy to launch the first assault. The first time the
fort was stormed in 1303AD, it was purely for matters of the heart.
Alauddin Khilji fell in love with Rani Padmini the moment he heard of
her and decided to take Chittor and subsequently Padmini. He did get
Chittor but Padmini was nothing more than ashes in a huge jauhar (mass
suicide by fire) which left 30,000 women burnt alive by choice.
The second siege came 232 years later in 1535 from Muhammad Shah of
Gujarat, and this time it was outright war. Chittor fell again, and
13,000 women and children died in a different kind of jauhar. The
fortress was on the brink of being seized by Bahadur Shah and there
was no time to arrange for a bonfire. Gunpowder was brought out from
the magazines and laid out in excavations in the ground. A tremendous
blast took the lives of women and children this time.
The final assault was by Akbar in 1567, and it was fatal for Chittor.
The seven gates of Chittor were opened and 8,000 Rajputs rode out in
their saffron war robes once again to die at Mughal swords. Tradition
repeated itself within the walls of Chittor, and women and children
sallied forth into flames. When Akbar entered the fort, it is said
that there was not a living soul left inside. After this final sack
the backbone of Chittor was broken, and its ruler Rana Udai Singh fled
to lay the foundations of Udaipur. Chittor never recovered and the
fort was taken over by nature.
¤ Fort Palaces
Rana Kumbha was the one who officially built Chittor, and his palace
is the oldest monument within the fort walls. The palace was built
from 1433-68 in plastered stone, and the entrance is through Suraj Pol
which directly leads into a courtyard. On the right of Suraj Pol is
the Darikhana or Sabha (council chamber) behind which lies a Ganesha
temple and the zenana (living quarters for women). A massive water
reservoir is located towards the left of Suraj Pol. Ruined houses
towards the south of the palace may have been used by lesser nobles,
or were probably used by palace attendants. Below the central
courtyard is a subterranean chamber where Rani Padmini committed
jauhar with the rest of the women of Chittor when Alauddin Khilji
besieged the fort. But perhaps the most remarkable feature of the
palace is its splendid series of canopied balconies. The complex also
houses stables for elephant and horses, but is now in ruins.
¤ Other Attractions
¤ Fateh Prakash
Near Kumbhas palace is Fateh Prakash, the most modern building
in Chittor. Built in the early 20th century, the palace was the home
for Maharana Fateh Singh, Chittors ruler who died in 1930. A
part of the building has now been converted into a museum but the rest
of it is closed to visitors.
Timings : The museum is open
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. except on Fridays.
¤ Kunwar Pade ka Mahal
was the palace of the prince of Chittor, and was built in 1450.
Interestingly, this palace incorporates for the first time in Rajput
architecture the use of ogee arches. These S-shaped arches later
became an essential part of Rajput architecture and were widely used
in palaces, step wells and temples. In the princes palace can be
seen some of the beautiful blue tiles that went into decorating most
of the palaces here. Prolific use of the ogee arch can also be seen in
Rana Ratan Singhs palace built from 1527-32. Ratan Singh was
Padminis husband, and his palace is styled on Rana Kumbhas
¤ Rani Padminis Palace
is a compact three storeyed white building, but what is seen today is
a 19th century reconstruction of the original. The palace is
surrounded by water, and the inevitable chhatris (pavilions)
crown its roofs. This was perhaps the forerunner of the concept of
jagmahals (palaces surrounded by water), and it was from here that
Akbar carried off huge bronze gates and installed them in Agra. Close
by is Bhimlat kund, an artificial tank dedicated to the strongest of
the Pandava brother, Bhima (see Mahabharata).
¤ Palaces of Jaimal and Patta
The palaces of Jaimal and Patta were the last two buildings to be
built in Chittor fort, and calling them palaces is really misleading.
Compared to other palaces in Rajasthan, they are small and of not much
architectural significance. Both these havelis (houses) are built very
frugally, taking into consideration that they were constructed more as
simple residences than splendid palaces. Both lie in ruins now, and
their facades are minimal and hardly bear any resemblance to the
palaces of Rana Kumbha or Padmini.
Towards the south of these two havelies is the three-storeyed tower
called Chonda house built in early 15th century, and now in ruins.
Chonda was the founder of the Chondawat clan and gave up his throne on
the insistence of his father.
¤ Main Gate Ways To Fort
A limestone bridge supported by ten arches across the Gambheri river
leads into the fort. Nine of these arches are pointed, and by some
mishap one was built as a curve. The road to Chittor is arduous and a
kilometer long, with seven imposing gateways forming defensive
entrances. Padal Pol the first gate, is where Bagh Singh was cut down
in the second siege by Bahadur Shah in 1535.
Here it must be remembered that gateways to a fort in Rajasthan were
no diminutive ones they were massive stone structures with
reinforced doors to ward off elephants and even cannon shots. The
gates of Chittor are of special architectural interest, for it was
here that for the first time that defense surpassed décor. The
arches are pointed, and the top of the gates are notched parapets from
where archers could shoot at their tormentors.
None other than Emperor Akbar dedicates two of the seven gates to
Chittors brave defenders. Bhairon Pol was where Jaimal fell by
the Emperors bullet, and Patta died at Ram Pol, the forts
main gate which was built in 1459. It is crowned by two little
chhatris (pavilions), and the roof is supported by a corbeled arch.
Each side of the gate consists of a small hall. On returning to Agra
Akbar ordered the construction of statues of the valiant warriors to
commemorate their deaths. Cenotaphs for both Jaimal and Patta were
also built by Rajputs at each gate. A statue of a Rajput warrior on
horseback, lance in hand, is Jaimals cenotaph, while another
colonnaded cenotaph lies nearby, dedicated to Raghudeva of Mewar.
eastern wall is entered through Suraj Pol (Sun Gate). Hanuman Pol lies
before Ganesh Pol, and then come two gates joined together in a
peculiar manner. The upper arch of the Jorla (Joined Gate) is
connected to the base of Lakshman Pol, a feature never seen anywhere
else in India.
¤ Fort Temples
In the western side of the fort is an ancient Tulja Bhawani temple in
honour of goddess Tulja, held sacred by the scribes of Chittor.
Adjacent to this temple is an open courtyard, the tope khana (cannon
foundry) of yester years where a few old cannons can still be seen.
¤ Naulakha Bhandar- Treasure Store
The Naulakha bhandar (nine lakh treasury) built by Rana Kumbha is a
small citadel in itself, and it was here that all the wealth of
Chittor was hoarded. The bastion once had lofty walls and towers to
guard it, but now lies in ruins. The Naulakha bhandar is also said to
have been the residence of Banbir, the usurper.
¤ Shringar Chaori Jain Temple
In northeastern corner there is a small domed temple called the
Shringar Chaori with detailed carvings of gods and goddesses on the
outside. This richly sculpted Jain temple was built into the fort wall
in 1448 in honour of Shantinath, a Jain fordmaker.
The palace of the Ranas, built by Rana Raimal, is a plain edifice
with notched battlements, following the style of original Rajput
architecture devoid of any Mughal influence. This palace was the home
for the very first rulers of Chittor, or that of the Moris from whom
Chittor was seized.
Within the courtyard surrounding the palace is another temple, this
one for Devji. Rana Sanga had a special affinity for Devji, and on
each of his forays outside Chittor to engage the enemy he would first
visit the temple. On a victorious return, Sanga would once again pay
homage to the deity (see Chittor introduction).
¤ Mira Bai Temple
massive temples also lie within the fort. One was built by Rana Kumbha
and the other by Mira Bai, the saint-poetess and Krishnas
devotee. The masonry for these temples was brought from the ruins of
ancient shrines near Chittor. Rana Kumbhas Vrij temple (1450AD)
is dedicated to Varah, the god with the body of a man and the head of
a boar. Near these temples are two kunds or reservoirs, each measuring
125 feet in length, 50 feet across and 50 feet deep. However, they
were not meant to store water and were constructed for the wedding of
a Chittor princess to a prince of Gagron. They were filled with oil
and ghee (clarified butter) which was served out to attendants and
Near Mirabais temple is the cenotaph of Mirabais guru
Shri Rai Das. Inside the cenotaph is a statue depicting five human
bodies fused together with one head, signifying that there are no
caste differences and even outcasts can reach out to god.
¤ Kallika Mata temple
Bappa Rawal built the Kallika Mata temple sometime during the 8th
century for Surya, the Sun god. Alauddin Khilji destroyed it in the
first sack of Chittor, but Rana Hammir rebuilt it as a Kali temple in
the 14th century. The temple consists of five chambers, all devoid of
their original roofs. The walls of this temple are plain but the
cornices are decorated with lotus symbols. The inner sanctums
walls depict the Sun god Surya in nichés surrounded by consorts
and angels. The moon god Chandra is also shown in sculptures in the
walls which rise up into a flat ceiling supported by quadrangular
pillars, also intricately carved and bracketed at the top. The
doorframe of the inner sanctum has four ornamental bands with Surya
forming the central theme of its carvings. The entire frame is flanked
by an elaborate panel in which are carved figures of deities around a
main figure of the sun god. The temple still retains the flavour of
the Gupta style of architecture, and an inscription within the edifice
informs us that it was built by king Manabhanga.
¤ Kumbhashyama temple
The Kumbhashyama temple is similar to the Kallika temple but in is
honour of the god Krishna. Simplicity is the main theme, but nichés
in the walls are filled with diamonds and carry images of gods and
goddesses as well as the eight regents of Chittor. The upper walls are
decorated with a frieze of entwined loops. A major part of the temple
seems to have been restored, but the inner chamber still retains its
The 16th century Adbhutnath temple demonstrates a style which emerged
in the 10th century. Here, images of gods tend to be
differently portrayed than in other temples. Heads are almost circular
and the statues limbs form a tubular shape, making the images
look like crude toys. The main image of Mahesha or Lord Shiva is made
of wood and is an unrefined depiction of the Destroyer god. His face
is flat and two more adjoining faces are turned forward in an obvious
display of the lack of dimension.
¤ Brahma Temple
Rana Kumbhas Brahma temple is not really that of the Creator of
the Universe, and is in honour of Kumbhas father, Mukul.
Apparently Brahma was never worshipped here, and the temple was only
named after him since a bust of Mukul stands in the centre of the
solitary chamber. Adjoining this temple is Charbagh, a garden of
cenotaphs where the ashes of each one of Chittors rulers
from Bappa Rawal to Udai Singh II, the founder of Udaipur are
The Ranas of Chittor were cremated in the Mahasati, a small terrace
surrounded by stones marking satis (widows burnt with the bodies of
Beyond the Charbagh is Gaumukh, a perennial fountain formed in the
mouth of a `cow. The `cow is actually a cleft in a rock
face through which water flows out into a reservoir. Near the Gaumukh
is the Rani Bindar tunnel which leads into the subterranean chamber
where Rani Padmini committed jauhar during Alauddin Khiljis
siege of Chittor.
Within the same complex is the Sammidheshwara temple in which light
enters from four different directions. The temple walls are short and
take the form of blind balustrades. Small pillars support the roof on
the outside while columns support the dome of the inner chamber. This
central chamber is largely open on all sides and its columns meet in
arches in the upper reaches.
¤ Towers of Glory
most imposing monuments in Chittor are the dual towers that stand as a
grim reminder of the jaded grandeur of Chittor. Vijaystambha or
Victory Tower was erected by Rana Kumbha from 1457-58 after he
defeated the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat. The tower is 122
feet high and its summit spans an area of more than 17 feet. Nine
storeys ascend into the sky from the 35 feet broad base on a 42 feet
broad platform. Each of the nine storeys have doorways leading into
colonnaded balconies. Designed by an architect called Jaita in the
Jain revivalist style, the tower is built of quartz and compact
limestone abundantly found in Chittor. The colonnaded top storey has a
statue of a kanya (young girl) surrounded by gopis (milkmaids) in
dancing postures playing various musical instruments. Black marble
tablets in this floor contain shlokas (verses) tracing the genealogy
of Chittor rulers. However, most of the slabs have been defaced and
only one is still in its original condition. The fifth floor contains
reliefs of the builders of the tower, and a simple staircase which
leads right up to the top connects all the storeys.
The secondary tower in Chittor is the huge Kirtistambha (Tower of
Fame) originally dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain saint. 75 feet
high and 39 feet wide at the base, the Kirtistambha is also richly
decorated with Jain motifs. Similar to Vijaystambha, this tower is
also built of quartz, is seven storeys high with a chunkier façade.
A number of Jain inscriptions can be found within and outside the
tower, dating it to 896AD.
Mohair Margi is a little hill raised under orders from Akbar during
his siege of Chittor in 1567. The Mughal army was engaged to raise a
hill as high as the fort walls so that they could fire cannons into
Chittor. For this purpose earth was excavated and dumped near the
walls. Legend has it that Akbar paid one gold mohur (coin) for
each basket of mud since the task meant certain death. Eventually the
mound did reach as high as the fort walls and Akbar was able to seize