More from Chittaurgarh Fort
Chittaurgarh Fort Part 1 – here.
We spent around five hours here, yet we could do only the top tourist attractions of Chittaurgarh Fort. Hard to visit all the interesting spots inside the fort as the fort spread over 690 acres. Each spot had a story; some of them left us speechless. Some parts of Chittaurgarh Fort, we were told are haunted, but nothing to fear in broad daylight.
After the first disaster of 1303, Chittaurgarh Fort regained its glory for a short period under Rana Kumbha, when he ruled Mewar in Rajasthan, between 1433 and 1468 AD. He built the Fort of Kumbalgarh.
Vijay Stambh at Chittaurgarh Fort
This massive monument impressed me the most. Vijay Stambh was constructed by Mewar king Rana Kumbha in 1448. He built this to commemorate his victory over the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat led by Mahmud Khilji. The tower is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
The second disaster that razed down the mighty Chittaurgarh Fort further, was by Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in 1532. Queen Karnavati who was holding on to the fort bravely, sent her sons Vikramjit and Udai Singh to safety. She also sent Rakhi to Emperor of Hindustan, Humayun seeking his protection from Bahadur Shah. (Rakhi is a sacred thread which a Hindu woman ties around the right wrist of a brother to ensure protection.) Unfortunately for the Queen, Emperor Humayun was at far east in Bengal. Honored, that a Rajput Queen had chosen him as her brother, he immediately set out from Bengal to protect his sister.
It was too late; once more the mass suicides were committed. This time it is told that Queen Karnavati and other women, 13,000 of them blew themselves up in one huge blast using gunpowder. Emperor Humayun reached Chittor, defeated Bahadur Shah and handed the fort to Vikramjit.
The final disaster, which proved to be fatal, was by Akbar, son of Humayun when Chittor was ruled by Udai Singh son of Karnavati. Both aged around 25 didn’t share cordial relationships. And Prince Udai Singh sought the easy way out fleeing the scene leaving the fort to his chiefs. Again pyres were lit, women leapt in to the flames and the men folk rode out to fight till death. It is said there was not a single living soul inside when Akbar entered the fort.
The battle raged from 20th Oct 1567 to23rd Feb 1568 (today is 23rd Feb too!); the Mughals too had incurred heavy losses. An angry Akbar plundered and razed down this mighty fort to such an extent that for two centuries it remained uninhabited and turned to a haunt of wild animals.
This ghost town even today reverberates with the tales of its past glory and the sacrifices made by its people. I was shocked and numbed, choking with a mixture of feelings listening to the stories from the guide, thinking of the innumerable women who would have leapt to flames in this very soil… what were their last thoughts? Not once but 3 times Jauhar was committed here by women and children! The way the guide there explained to us left us mesmerized. It seemed as if it was his own family story.
As soon as you reach there guides will flock around you, do hire one of them. They are amazing story tellers and this is their bread and butter. They depend on tourists like us for their living.
(Centuries have passed, but this act of self immolation has not ceased. Women of Afganisthan are setting themselves to fire even today, some to save themselves from dishonor, some for other reasons. They are driven to such levels of desperation. Care to read about it? Read it here: Terror of a Different Kind. The article was fresh in my mind when I was touring Chittorgarh fort on 7th Oct 2008.)