Chittorgarh Fort, he first of the great Sisodia, Bappa Rawal built the fort of Chittorgarh in the 8-century. Proudly raising towards the sky this hill fort, 150 m high, is enclosed within impressive walls about 4.5 km long. Once the bastion of resistance against the conquering Mughal, it is considered to be the finest medieval Rajput fort in existence. The indomitable pride of Mewar, the fort is a massive structure with many gateways built by the successive rulers in the 7 century AD.
The winding one km ascent to the fort leads through seven gateways to the main gate on the western side, the Ram Pol. The main gate on the eastern side of the fort is known as Suraj Pol. Close to the second pol, Bhairon Pol, stand the cenotaphs of Jaimal and Patta. Within the fort, a circular road runs around a village and ruined palaces, towers and temples, though in deteriorating condition, but impressive reminders of its remarkable past.
On the right immediately inside the fort are ruins of the oldest palace of Chittorgarh, the Rana Kumbha Palace. Once there were elephant and horse stables, zenana and a Shiva temple. The Jauhar committed by Padmini and her entourage is believed to have taken place in the underground cellars. The north frontage is an attractive combination of canopied balconies. Across the palace are the archaeological office and the Nau Lakha Bhandar (The Treasury). The nearby Shringar Chauri ‘Ibmple has some fine sculptured panels. To the east of the Rana Kumbha Palace is the Fateh Prakash Palace built in early 19century which houses a museum containing archaeological finds from this site.
To the south is the Vijay Stambh (waer of Victory) erected by Rana Kumbha to celebrate his Victory over Mahmood Khilji of Malwa in 1440. It stands on a base 14 m square and 3 m high and rises 37 m in nine storeys. This nine storey sandstone tower which has been repaired was covered with Hindu sculptures and depicts episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Close to the tower is the Mahasati, an area where the Ranas were cremated during Chittorgarh’s period as the capital of Mewar. There are also numerous sati stones. The Samdhishvara ’Ibmple stands in the same area.
Beyond the temple at the very edge of the cliff is a deep tank, Gomukh Kund. A sacred spring feeds the tank from the stone carved as a cow’s mouth from which the reservoir got its name. The opening here leads to the cave in which Padmini and her compatriots are said to have committed Jauhar.
The building close to the Fateh Prakash Palace is the Meera Bai ‘Ibmple associated with the mystic poetess Meera Bai who worshipped Lord Krishna here. The larger temple in the same compound is the Kumbha Shyam ‘Ibmple or the Temple of Varah built during the reign of Rana Kumbha in the IndoAryan style.
Continuing south, originally 13century Padmini Palace was rebuilt at the end of the 19century. Built beside a large pool with a pavilion in its centre, Aizititidin Khilii is said to have seen Padmini beautiful relleetien in the water through a mirror on the palace wall. After having a glimpse of the legendary beauty, he went to the extent of ravaging Chittor in order to possess her. The golden gates in this pavilion were carried off by Akbar and can now be seen in the fort of Agra. Continuing around the circular road, you pass the Bhimtal Tank, the Suraj P01 and the Adbhutnath ’Ibmple, dedicated to Lord Shiva before reaching the Kirti Stambh (‘Ibwer‘ of Fame). Built around 12century it is an older tower but smaller (22 m high) than the Tower of Victory with only seven storeys. Built by a wealthy Jain merchant, it is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain tirthankar. Naked figures of tirthankars are repeated several hundred times on the face of the tower. A narrow stairway leads through the seven storeys to the top. Across the Padmini Palace is the remnant of an 8century Surya Temple incorporated within the later Kalika Mata ‘lbmple inside the fort. Carvings of the Sun God and his chariot still remain on the wide walls, high above the dark entrance to the inner sanctuary; Surya is flanked by Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Indra. The temple of Kalika Mata is entered through a gateway leading to a small courtyard and is dominated by a banyan tree.
A brick platform surrounds the tree, supporting a number of statues including lion tridents, sun symbols, and all painted vermilion. The image of Kalika was installed here when Maharana Hamir reconquered Chittor in 14century.