Chittaurgarh Fort is the largest fort of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Rajasthan Hill Forts. It was built in the 7th century and is the stuff of legend. The fort and city below are also known as both Chittogarh and Chittaurgarh. The fort is mentioned in the Indian epic, the Mahabharat and is referenced in numerous Indian legends. The founder of the city of Udaipur, Maharana Udai Singh was also born here. Chittaurgarh has a dark history too – when the fort was sacked (three times in the 15th and 16th century), 13,000 women and children of the fort committed mass Jauhar (suicide).
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Chittaurgarh Fort Location
The fort and city are located in the southern part of the state of Rajasthan. It’s mid way between Delhi and Mumbai.
Chittaurgarh is only about 120 kilometres from Udaipur, but sadly we were approaching from Jaipur, which is 300 kilometres distant. Our schedule now was driven by needing to find somewhere to both celebrate the Indian festival of Holi and hunker down somewhere during it. And, of course, fitting in seeing the forts of Chittaurgarh and Kumbhalgarh. There’s a railway station with good links at Chittaurgarh and there are regular buses to the city too. However for our schedule we needed to arrive in the early morning and get out by lunchtime. That meant we needed to take an overnight bus from Jaipur, see the fort, and then move on from there. The bus stop is very close to the main hotel area (around 100 metres), although the fort is 2 kilometres up a hill from it.
How we visited Chittaurgarh Fort
We dropped our bags at the Hotel Heritage, where we negotiated the use of a room for a few hours, in order that we could have a shower when we were finished. We then took an auto rickshaw for three hours to visit the fort. Our driver took us up to the fort, around the various areas we wanted to see and then return us to the town afterwards. We set off on our tour at 0730, after we’d breakfasted. The fort is large, but the distance is potentially walkable, if you have the time and the inclination, but we had neither.
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Entrance to Chittaurgarh Fort
The entrance to the fort is up a winding well kept road, our auto zooms up in usual fashion. We pass through the first gate, the Ram Pol, this is one of seven gates that that we must pass through in order to enter the fort. The gates are Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jodla Pol, Laxman Pol and this first main entry gate, Ram Pol.
The gateways are all massive, with defences against elephants and cannon. There are also fortified parapets for archers to sit and wait in.
Layout of Chittaurgarh Fort
Once we get to the top, there’s a circular road that links and provides access to all the monuments, temples and palaces in the fort. As Chittaurgarh was always under threat of siege it needed a strong water supply and originally had 84 water tanks, thus it was known as the Water Fort. These tanks could hold four billion litres, which could sustain an army of 50,000 for four years.
The fort has a circumference of 13 kilometres and covers 700 acres. There are four palaces,two towers, 19 primary temples and many more historic structures within the confines of the fort.
We confine ourselves to the major monuments and palaces, and of course the whims of our auto driver, who’s taken it upon himself to take us where he wants us to go.
We start our visit at the Samadhisvara Temple.
Samadhisvara Temple, Chittaurgarh
Built in the 11th century this temple is covered in elaborate carvings – we descend the nearby staircase to the Gaumukha Kund.
Gaumukha Kund, Chittaurgarh
The most picturesque of the water tanks is the Gaumukha Kund. It’s a deep tank filled by a spring coming from what’s described as a ‘cow mouth’, situated at the edge of the cliff, near the Samadhisvara Temple. Our photos do not do it justice and we’re too lazy and tired to go and get a better shot!
Vijay Stambha, Chittaurgarh
The Victory Tower is known as the symbol of Chittor. It was erected by Rana Khumbha between 1458 and 1468 to commemorate his 1440 victory over the Sultan of Malwa. It is 37 metres and nine stories tall. The narrow internal circular staircase rises over 157 steps to the eighth floor. On each floor there are balconies and superb views of the city. There are carvings on the inside and outside of the tower. The dome was added later and has been damaged by lightning and repaired.
Meeting a Rajasthani Horse
There’s time though to see a couple of magnificent examples of Rajasthani horses, with unique ears that tip inwards.
Padmini Palace, Chittaurgarh
Padmini’s Palace (Queen’s Palace): This palace is of incredible historical importance in Mewar. Named after Rani Padmini the palace stands within the Padmini lake. It was here that Rana Ratan Singh showed a glimpse of his wife, the Rani Padmini to Ala-ud-Din Khalji through a mirror. Reacting to the legendary beauty, Ala-ud-Din Khalji then sacked the city of Chittor in order to possess Padmini. During the fighting the Maharana, Ratan Singh was killed. Padmini committed Jauhar (suicide). The building is white and has three stories, although this is a 19th century reconstruction of the original. In the centre of the lake is the Jal Mahal (a palace surrounded by water).
Kirti Stambha, Chittaurgarh
The Kirti Stambha, or Tower of Fame is 22 metres high. The outside is covered in Jain sculptures. It was probably built in the 12th century and its building is attributed to a Jain merchant, Jijai Rathod. It is dedicated to the first Jain teacher. There are six levels and 54 steps to the top on a very narrow stairway. The top pavilion was added in the 12th century.
The tower is dedicated to Vishnu and is built of red sandstone and white marble.
We take a look also at the gate on the far side of the fort, which looks into the open countryside.
Rana Kumbha’s Palace:
We finish our visit to Chittaurgarh Fort at the Rana Kumbha Palace. This is the oldest building within the fort. There are glimpses of past glories, as this is where Maharana Udai Singh, the founder of Udaipur, was born. It’s also here that Rani Padmini threw herself onto the funeral pyre, in her act of Jauhar.
There are a host of other temples throughout the Fort, but our time is limited, so we head back down to the town, where we’ll have an early lunch, a shower and to catch our next ride. We’ve booked a car and driver to take us to Kumbhalgarh Fort where we’ll spend several hours before then being driven to Udaipur.
UNESCO Sites to Visit in India
If you like visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, then you’ll love our guides to India’s best World Heritage sites
- Champaner Pavagadh, in Gujarat
- The Taj Mahal in Agra
- The Ajanta Caves
- Ellora Caves
- Khajuraho’s Temples
- Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi
- The Hill Forts of Rajasthan
- The Darjeeling Hill Railway
- Qutub Minar in Delhi
- The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya
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