Chittorgarh Fort is popularly known as the symbol of Rajput warriors, resistance and bravery. The fort is situated approximately 110 miles to the east of Udaipur and is greatly believed to be named after the ruler who ruled and built it, Chitrangada Mori. The well knownChittorgarh fort, which is one of the largest fort structures in India, is situated at a 180-meter high hill that rises from the banks of river Berach.
The fort is known for its seven gates namely Padan Pol, Ganesh Pol, Hanuman Pol, Bhairon Pol, Jodla Pol, Lakshman Pol and the main gate which is named after Lord Ram as Ram Pol. The Chittorgarh fort houses many palaces, like the Rana Kumbha Palace, the Fateh Prakash Palace, the Tower of Victory and Rani Padmini’s Palace. All these fort structures are significant for their Rajput architectural and cultural features.
There are also many temples within the fort of which a huge complex of Jain temples is a major attraction in Chittorgarh fort.
History of Chittorgarh Fort
In ancient India, the place where Chittorgarh fort is currently present was known to be Chitrakut. Due to the ancientness of this fort, there is no such clear evidence supporting the origin of this fort. However, there is a bunch of theories which are still subjected to debates. The most known theory states that Chitrangada Mori, a local Maurya ruler built the fort and ruled.
There was also a water body which was situated next to the fort is said to have been created when the legendary hero of Mahabharata, Bhima once struck the ground with all his power, which gave birth to a huge reservoir, Bhimlat Kund. As of now, an artificial tank has kept next to the fort, was where the legendary reservoir once sat, as said.
Thanking the fort’s majestic look, many rulers and warriors in the past have tried to capture it, in an attempt to make it one of their own. Bappa Rawal of the Guhila dynasty was one of the earliest rulers to have captured the fort successfully. As said, the fort was captured by him in around 730 AD, after defeating the existing rulers of it, i.e. The Moris.
Another alternative version of the story states that Bappa Rawal didn’t capture the fort from the Moris but from the Arabs, who captured it from the Moris, even much before the arrival of Bappa Rawal. It is said that Bappa Rawal was part of the army led by Nagabhata 1 of the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty. It’s believed that this army was mighty enough to defeat the famous troops of Arab,
who were considered imperious on a battlefield at that time. Another legend says that the fort was given as a part of a dowry to Bappa Rawal by Moris when they gave the hand of their princesses in marriage to Bappa Rawal.
Conquest of Alauddin Khilji
The fort remained with the rulers of the Guhila dynasty for a great period of time until 1303, when the ruler of Delhi Sultanate Alauddin Khilji decided to capture it. He took over the rulership of the fort from King Maharawal Ratan Singh after a siege which lasted for about eight months. This conquest is associated with massacre and bloodshed because many believe that Alauddin Khilji ordered the execution of more than 30,000 Hindus after capturing the fort.
Another famous legend states that the fort was captured by Khilji in an attempt to force the queen of Ratna Singh, i.e. Padmini, into an extramarital affair. This particular motive of Khiljiis said to have resulted in the mass self-immolation (Jauhar) of Chittorgarh women, led by Queen Padmini ( Padmavati ).
Change of Ownership
Unable to handle the continuous persuasion by the Rajputs, Khizr Khan surrendered the fort to the Sonigra chief Maldeva. This ruler held the possession of the fort for around the next seven years before Hammir Singh of the Mewar dynasty decided to snatch it away from him. Hammir then came up with a plan to deceive Maldeva and finally managed to capture the fort. Hammir Singh is known with turning the Mewar dynasty into a military machine.
Henceforth, the next descendants of Hammir enjoyed the luxuries offered by the fort for many years. One such famous descendant of Hammir who got the throne in 1433 AD was Rana Kumbha. Though the Mewar dynasty flourished into a stronger military force under the rulership of Rana, plans to capture the fort by various other rulers were in full swing. Unexpectedly, his death was caused by his own son Rana Uday Singh,
who killed his father in order to ascend the throne. This was perhaps the beginning of the end of the famous Mewar dynasty. In March 1527, one of the descendants of Rana Uday Singh was defeated during a battle by Babar and the Mewar dynasty grew weaker. Using this incident as an opportunity, Bahadur Shah of Muzaffarid dynasty sieged the fort in 1535. And once again, there was loss of lives through massacre and Jauhar.
Invasion of Akbar
In 1567, Emperor Akbar wanted to capture the whole of India, set his eyes on the great Chittorgarh fort. During this time, the palace was being ruled by Rana Uday Singh II of the Mewar dynasty. Akbar had a very massive army, because of which rulers of India were accepting defeat even before trying out Akbar’s massive army on the battlefield. But few brave kings like Rana of Mewar had shown resistance to Akbar’s demands.
This led to a war between the Mughal dynasty and the army of Mewar. After a sanguine battle which lasted for many months, Akbar defeated Rana Uday Singh II’s army and took over the ownership of Chittorgarh and the fort. The palace then remained with the Mughals for a longer time.
Fort Layout of Chittorgarh Fort
The fort, when viewed from above, looks roughly like a fish. Spread in an area of about 700 acres, even the circumference of the fort alone covers an area of 13 kilometers.
It has seven massive gates, safeguarding all the entrances. The main gate is known as Ram Pol or Ram Gate.The fort has a total of 65 structures including temples, palaces, memorials and water bodies.
It has two prominent towers within the premises of the fort namely Vijay Stambha (Tower of Victory) & Kirti Stambha (Tower of Fame).