The Chittorgarh Fort or Chittor Fort is not just India’s but also Asia’s largest fort. Interestingly, the fort was ransacked not once but three times. Alauddin Khilji attempted to invade it in 1303, while Gujarat’s Bahadur Shah invaded it in 1535, followed by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1568. The ruling Rajputs fiercely battled to maintain their own sovereignty and freedom. Legend states that on all occasions, whenever defeat was certain, the men fought till they died in battle, while the women resorted to suicide through Jauhar or self-immolation, en masse.
The Fort lies on a 180-metre hill and the entire area is at least 700 acres or even more. It was built by the Mauryans in 7th century AD, while some believe that Bhima from the Pandavas actually built it. The Fort has been witness to several legendary warriors in Indian history, including Badal, Gora, Maharana Pratap, Rana Kumbha, Patta and Jaimal, among others. It is near impossible to estimate the value of one of India’s most historical and culturally inspiring monuments. The entire property would run into thousands of crores indeed! It is one of the biggest tourist landmarks today in Rajasthan, more so after the movie Padmavat chronicled the local lore and history surrounding the Chittorgarh Fort.
See also: All about the Raigad Fort: A landmark of the Maratha empire
Chittorgarh Fort history
The fort was initially built at a place named Chitrakut earlier. Owing to the ancient nature of the fort, there is no clear history or evidence pointing to a single story of origin. Several theories have been put forward over the years by eminent historians. The common belief is that Chitrangada Mori, the local Maurya ruler, developed the fort originally. A water body next to the Chittorgarh Fort may have been built by Bhima, one of the Pandavas in the historic Mahabharata. The artificial tank adjacent to the fort, Bhimlat Kund, is where legends state that the iconic reservoir once existed.
Several rulers have tried to capture the imposing fort over the years. The Guhila Dynasty’s Bappa Rawal attempted a successful conquest of the fort around 730 AD after defeating the Moris who owned it initially. There is another version that states that Rawal captured the fort from the Arabs who, in turn, captured the fort from the Mori clan. Bappa Rawal may have been part of the army that was spearheaded by the Gurjara Pratihara Dynasty’s Nagabhata I. Yet another legend states that this fort was given by the Moris to Bappa Rawal as dowry, when he married one of the clan’s princesses.
See also: Rajasthan’s historic Ranthambore Fort
The Guhila Dynasty continued ruling over the fort till 1303 when Alauddin Khilji, the Delhi Sultanate ruler, attempted to capture it. He took over this prestigious fort after an eight-month siege, defeating King Ratnasimha. Another legend mentions that Khilji captured the fort to try and force Ratnasimha’s queen, Padmini into a relationship with him. This may have led to the Jauhar of the women at Chittorgarh Fort, spearheaded by Rani Padmini. Khilji later handed over the Chittorgarh Fort to Khizr Khan, his son, who held it till 1311 AD.
(The huge pyre – Jauhar Kund)
He ultimately gave up the prized possession to Maldeva, the Sonigra Chief. Thereafter, Hammir Singh from the Mewar ruling dynasty captured the fort. One of his famous descendants was Rana Kumbha, who contributed to the advancement of the Mewar Dynasty. His own son Rana Udaysimha killed him and ascended the throne eventually. One of Udaysimha’s descendants was defeated by Babar in 1527. Bahadur Shah from the Muzaffarid Dynasty then seized control of the fort in 1535. Akbar invaded in 1567 during the rule of Rana Uday Singh II from the Mewar Dynasty. After a battle lasting several months, the Rana was defeated and the fort’s ownership changed hands.
(Jain Temple in Chittorgarh Fort)
Chittorgarh Fort: Interesting facts
Here are some interesting facts about Chittorgarh Fort:
- The Fort covers 691.9 acres in all.
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Key structures in the Fort include Kirti Stambh, Vijay Stambh, Padmini Palace, Gaumukh Reservoir, Rana Kumbha Palace, Meera Mandir, Kalikamata Mandir, Jain Mandir and Fateh Prakash Palace.
(Maharani Shri Padmini Palace)
- The Fort has seven gates, namely Bhairon Pol, Padan Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jorla Pol, Ram Pol and Laxman Pol.
(Jorla Pol and Lakshman Pol)
- The Fort lies 175 kms east from Udaipur.
- It looks like a fish when viewed aerially and its circumference is 13 kms.
- There are 65 structures in total, within the fort complex.
- Rana Kumbha built Vijay Stambh in 1448 for marking his victory over Mahmud Shah I Khilji. The tower remains dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The fifth floor of the tower has Sutradhar Jaita, the architect’s name along with his three sons. Jain Goddess Padmavati is housed in the topmost floor while the 8th and 3rd storeys have Arabic lettering and the word Allah carved, showing the religious plurality and tolerance of the Rajputs.
- Kirti Stambh was built in the 12th century by Bagherwal Jain for commemorating the first Jain Tirthankara, Adinath. It came up during Rawal Kumar Singh’s reign in 1179-1191. The tower goes up to 22 metres.
- All gates have historical importance; Prince Bagh Singh lost his life at the Padan Gate in 1535 while Rao Jaimal from Badnore was reportedly killed by Emperor Akbar himself during the last siege, somewhere around the Bhairon and Hanuman Gates.
- There are two cenotaphs or Chhatris between the second and third gates.
- Plastered stone was used for building Rana Kumbha’s palace which has numerous canopied balconies, as well.
(Maharana Kumbh Palace)
See also: Know more about the Agra Fort and its valuation
Where is Chittorgarh Fort located?
Chittorgarh Fort is located in the city of Chittor in Rajasthan.
What was the ancient name of Chittorgarh Fort’s location?
The ancient name for the area was Chitrakut.
What is the total area covered by Chittorgarh Fort?
The Fort covers roughly 700 acres in all.