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''Largest fort in India and an epitome of Rajput pride, romance and spirit. How about a visit?''

Location : In Rajasthan and about 550 kms from Delhi

Why go the distance : If historic places and their architecture excite you, do plan a visit to Chittorgarh Fort, the largest fort in India. Plainly known as Chittor in Rajasthan, this is the epitome of Rajput pride, romance and spirit. The fort studded with a series of historical palaces, gates, temples and two commemoration towers, has always inspired travel freaks and writers. Standing on 180 meters high hill, the fort covers an area of 700 acres above the plains. Chittor has witnessed both the ravages of war and the triumphs of the spirit in the past and today is one of the greatest tourist attractions in India. The Fort was built by the later Maurya rulers in 7th century A.D. with multiple gates made of massive stone structures Padal Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol and Ram Pol. It was the capital of Mewar under the Rajputs from 7th to 16th century until it was sieged by emperor Akbar in 1567.

Meera Temple : Here Meera worshipped Lord Girdhar Gopal, chanted hymns and danced. This is the place where poison was turned into nector. Meera’s life and bhajans have become part of the folklore and literary traditions of the region and several parts of India.

Vijaya Stambha - Tower of victory : To commemorate the victory over Sultan of Malwa, this magnificient Stambha (37.19) metre high was built and consecrate by Maharan Kumbha in AD 1448. Dedicated to Vishnu, it has nine stories distinctly marked with openings and balconies at every face of each story. The interior staircase winds alternately through the central chamber and surrounding gallery. The inscribed slabs in the uppermost story contain genealogy of the rulers of Chittaur from Hamir to Rana Kumbha.The entire tower is covered with architectural ornaments and inscribed images of god and goddesses, weapons, musical instruments, etc. The Stamba is now illuminated during the evenings and gives a beautiful view of Chittor from the top.

Kirti Stambha - Tower of Fame : The monument has been declared to be of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. Built in the 12th century by Bagherwal Jain merchant Jijaji Rathod, it is dedicated to Adinathji, the 1st Jain teacher adorned by the naked figures of the Digambars. It is a 22 metre high tower built on a 30 feet base. A narrow stairway goes through seven stories of the tower to the top.

Rana Kumbha Palace : This 15th century old imposing monument enclosed within the interiors of Chittorgarh fort has many legends associated with it. The palace is built with plastered stone. The remarkable feature of the palace is its splendid series of canopied balconies. This monument was built originally by the founder of the House of Mewar, Bappa Rawal and was renovated by Maharana Kumbha.

Gaumukh Reservoir : A deep tank filled by a spring coming from a 'cow mouth', situated at the edge of the cliff. It is located on the western side of the Fort and is considered to be sacred. Its view during the sunset is mesmerising.

Padmini Palace : This palace is of immense historical importance in the history of Mewar. Associated with Rani Padmini, this beautiful building stands in the northern margin of the Padmini lake. It is said here that Rana Ratan Singh showed a glimpse of legendry beauty of his wife Padmini to Ala-ud-Din Khalji through a mirror. After which, Ala-ud-Din Khilji went to the extent of ravaging Chittaur in order to possess her. In the middle of the lake, there’s a three-storeyed structure with arched openings known as Jal Mahal.

Kalika Mata Temple : This ancient Hindu temple was built originally in the 8th century as the Surya or Sun temple and converted to its present form in the 14th century. The goddess worshipped at this temple is an aspect of goddess Bhadrakali and thousands visitors throng here everyday.

Fateh Prakash Palace - (Government Museum) : Built by Maharana Fateh Singh this huge palace is of modern style. The palace reflects a lot about the grandeur and splendor of Rajput era. Converted into a museum, this palace has a rich collection of sculptures from temples and buildings in the Fort. It also houses weapons and guns that were used in the earlier times during wars. There is a big Ganesh idol, a fountain, and different frescoes. It is located near the Meerabai temple.

When to go : The best time to go is during winters when the weather is pleasant as one requires minimum 5-6 hours to see all attractions within the fort at ease.

How to reach : Bus – Chittorgarh is well connected with Delhi by bus routes.

Train – This mode of travel will take lesser time. Trains which connect Delhi to Chittorgarh include Dehradun Express, Mewar Express and Chetak Express.

Air – Take a flight from Delhi to Udaipur, then cover 112 kms between Udaipur and chittorgarh by cab or bus.

Or just drive down.

Where to stay : Meera Hotel, one of the best hotels in Chittorgarh, has well maintained suites and good food too. A suite may cost a couple about Rs 4,000 a night. Besides suites, deluxe AC rooms are available at lesser cost.
There is a Dak Banglow in the fort and a well furnished Dharamshala is also available below the fort run by Sanvaria Trust. Many Guest houses and hotels are available in Chittorgarh city.

Tip : Drive inside the Fort as it’s actually very big. Don't forget to carry sun glasses.

Source / Review By : Pramugdha Mamgain Nautiyal

An ex-ET journo and an Assistant Professor

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