Built on a 180 m high hill, the Chittorgarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India. It is located near Gambheri river in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan about 112kms from Udaipur. This fort was built in the 7th century, not by a single ruler but different Maurya rulers and was named after Chittrangada Maurya. The massive Chittorgarh Fort expands over an area of 700 acres with its fortifications, temples, towers and palaces. It’s peripheral length is 13 km, stretching to 3km in length. Besides the great architectural structures, this colossal fort has a great history to boast about.
The Chittorgarh fort was one of the powerful seats in the past. It was attacked three times, for the first time in 1303 by Allaudin Khilji, second time in 1535, by Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. In 1567, it was attacked for the last time by Mughal Emperor Akbar. Every time the fort was attacked, the Rajput warriors fought the battle with great fierce and heroism. A ‘jauhar’ or mass suicide was observed and the womenfolk of the Royalty never submitted themselves to their enemies.
The Fort of Chittorgarh is a huge structure that is secured by seven strong gateways. These gateways were built by Rana Kumbha (1433- 1468) and each gate was given a specific name. The lowermost is the Paidal Pol followed by Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jorla Pol, Laxman Pol and the top most (main gate) being the Ram Pol. These gates were made of strong iron spikes and used as watch towers in earlier times. The Chittorgarh fort complex comprises 65 historic built structures, among them 4 palace complexes, 19 main temples, 4 memorials and 20 functional water bodies.
The Chittorgarh Fort has many magnificent monuments that showcase the Rajput style of architecture. The following are some of the important and prominent structures of the fort:
Vijay Stambha (The Tower of Victory)
The Vijay Stamba also called Jaya Stamba was built by Rana Kumbha in 1440 to commemorate his victory over Mahmud Shah I Khilji. The stamba was erected 37.2 metres (122 ft) high over a 47 square feet (4.4 m2) base. The Vijaya Stamba is nine storied which can be accessed by 157 stepped staircase. It took over ten years to build this structure.
. Kirti Stambh (The Tower of Fame)
The Kirti Stambh is a Jain Tower built by a Bagherwal Jain merchant Jijaji Rathod. It is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankar (Jain teacher). It is 22 m (72 ft) high, built on a 30 foot base with Jain sculptures on the outside. It is older and smaller than the Vijay Stambha. It has a 54 stepped staiway that gives passage through the six storeys. A 12 columned pavilion was added on the top in 15th century.
. Rana Kumbha Palace
Rana Kumbha Palace is the oldest monument of the Chittorgarh fort built in 15th century. It was the residence of Rajput King Maharana Kumba. The palace was made up of plasterd stone with canopied balconies. It included a temple to Lord Shiva and also had stables for elephants and horses. The Rana Kumbha palace is a fine example of Rajput’s architecture.
. Padmini’s Palace
Padmini’s Palace of the Chittorgarh fort was the residence of Rani Padmini, wife of Maharana Rattan Singh. It is white, three storied building surrounded by a water moat. A beautiful lotus pond is located nearby the palace.
. Phatta’s Memorial (Ram Pol)
The Ram Pol is the main entrace of the Chittorgarh Fort. The architecture of this gate is different from that of the others. This gate is also called Phatta’s Memorial, named after the Rajput Warrior Phatta who died while defending the fort against invaders at this spot.
. Kumbha Shyam Temple
The Kumbha Shyam Temple was built by Rana Kumbha in 1449, dedicated to Varaha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is a beautifully carved temple which represents the Indo-Aryan type of architecture. Inside the temple, walls are covered with panels depicting stories from the life of Krishna and Vishnu Purana. The striking feature of this temple is it’s pyramydical roof.
. Kalika Mata Temple
The Kalika Mata temple of the Chittorgarh fort is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Kalika who is a symbol of courage and power. It was built in the 8th century and is one of the oldest temples in Chittorgarh.
. Meera Temple
The Meera temple is dedicated to the saint-poet Meera Bhai who was a 16th century Rajput princess. She gave up her royal life and became an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. The Temple consists of beautiful idols carved on its pillars, walls, temple campus and in the sanctum. The bhajans written by Meera in praise of Lord Krishna can be seen inscribed on the temple walls.
. Tulja Bhawani Temple
Tulja Bhawani Temple is an ancient temple, which was built around 1535 A.D. It is located at Ram Pol of the Chittorgarh fort and dedicated to Goddess Tulja Bhawani also known as Turya Bhawani. The architecture of the temple is remarkable, and pictures of various Hindu deities adorn the walls of the temple.
The glorious history and the monuments of Chittorgarh fort draw many visitors every year. It was declared a World heritage site in 2013.