Chittorgarh has a long and glorious history of victories and defeats. It was originally the capital of the Rajput Mewar dynasty, which later moved to Udaipur. Invaders sacked the city three times. In 1303, the Delhi Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji had the city besieged in order to get the beautiful Padmini, the wife of Maharaja Ratan Singh.
At this time 13,000 women performed jauhar by throwing themselves into a funeral pyre. Then 7,000 warriors put on orange robes and went into battle to certain death. The places to see are all inside the fort, which is basically deserted ruins. The views from the walls, on all four sides of the fort are outstanding. It takes about half a day to see everything. Guides (about Rs 200) can usually be found near the Rana Kumbha Palace, close to the fort’s gate. Fort Admission foreigners/Indians Rs 100/5.
Guides charge around Rs 150-200. and it is best to get a guide driving an auto-ricksaw. A good way to fully explore the fort is by renting a biccycle. It is a fairly tough climb up to the fort, but once at the top it is mainly flat. There are seven pols (gates) beginning on the east side of town going for one km up to the fort’s entrance.
The first is Padan Pol. Located at the second gate are the chhatris (monuments) of the heroic Jaimal and Kalla, who both died in battle when Chittorgarh was attacked in 1567. Rama Pol is the final gate that leads into the fort. To the right of the Rama Pol gate is Shingara Chauri Mandir, a 15th century Jain temple dedicated to the 16th tirthankara, Shantinath. It has intricate carvings. If you go straight from the gate you come to the Rana Kumbha Palace, where it is said the third jauhar of Chittorgarh happened in an underground cellar. Now only a Siva temple and the stables remain. In the Fateh Prakash Palace (built in the 1920s) is the Government Museum, which has a collection of statues and weapons. Open daily except Fri 10 am to 4.30 pm; admission Rs 2, photography prohibited.
Near the palace is the artistic Meera Mandir, dedicated to the saintly woman devotee of Lord Krishna, Mira Bai. Also nearby is the lofty Kumbha Shyam Mandir with its deity of Varaha (the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu) in the inner sanctum. Taking Fort Road south brings you to the sandstone Jaya Stambha (Tower of Victory), which is considered to be the highlight of the fort.
This outstanding 37m (122 ft), nine-storey sandstone tower is covered with intricate sculptures. It was begun in 1458 to commemorate a significant victory in 1440 and was finished ten years later. You can climb to the top of this tower and from the top, the view is outstanding. Nearby is the Mahasati, the place where women performed sati by throwing themselves on their husbands’ cremation fire.
The Sammadheshwar Mandir is also nearby. Further south on the main road is a large tank called Gaumukh Kund (Cow’s Mouth Tank). It is called this because of the carved cow’s mouth from which the water of the tank comes. Further down the main road is the weathered Padmini’s Palace, which is next to a shallow pool with a pavilion in the center. It is said that Ala-ud-din-Khalji saw the reflection of beautiful Padmini in a palace mirror. After seeing her, he laid siege to Chittorgarh, which led to the city’s residents performing jauhar. The Kalika Mata Mandir, with its sculptures of gods, is across from here. It is now dedicated to goddess Kali, but was originally dedicated to Surya, the sun-god.