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Chittorgarh is located in the Indian state of Rajasthan and still remains one of the lesser explored marvels of India. One visit to the beautiful fort-town and I fell in love with it. Come along with me in this journey to discover the stunning architecture and legend of Chittorgarh.
Built in the 7th Century by the Guhilot kings and abandoned in 1568 after a long seize by Akbar, Chittorgarh Fort is now also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Despite it's tumultuous history, the fort retained its prominence as one of the most magnificent forts of Rajasthan and is now slowly gaining popularity with the tourists as well.
The fort is famous for many landmarks, but my favourite are the - Gaumukh Bawli (Cow-mouth water reserviour) and Vijay Stambh (Victory Tower). It was an image of this Bawli which Tej innocuously shared with me on Friday morning which convinced me to visit Chittorgarh. The Bawli is fed through natural water and is full the whole year. As the day changes, so does its beauty. From the hustle bustle of morning when men and women come totake a holy dip, it turns into a serene seductress with golden walls and green water by the time sun sets.
Situated on the rear edge of the fort, its water is supplied through a cow-mouth like opening all through the year, hence the unusual name. A tunnel connects the bawli with the Queen's fort through which royal women used go there, hidden from the eyes of the men, though now its closed for public.
I visited Chittorgarh alone as none of my friends in Ahmadabad wanted to travel and I was more than excited about it. So this was one of those solo trips which are forced on you, but to me it was a blessing in disguise. Without planning I just went to the bus-stand, bought the ticket and came here. I had no clue where I would be staying, but when you travel alone such things do not matter at all.
I traveled overnight in a bus and reached early morning. The ST buses drop you at the base of the hill and then you need to go up, either by another bus or a shared auto. I took an auto and reached up, found a guest house and dropped my bags there. The guest house was in a pretty bad shape and that told me that not many travelers come here and those who come often go back the same day.
Sharing some of my Chittorgarh experiences there.
I was amazed that people were still allowed to climb on the Vijay Stambh, most such structures have been locked in India (including Qutub Minar). Its a cramped climb of eight stories, sometimes in absolute darkness on tiny and narrow steps, with people walking up as well as down at the same time. There are still moments when you are completely alone in that darkness and its a great feeling. I loved it and even managed to click some pictures, though the famed view from the top was disappointing.
My guide told me that a request to walk the entire fort was rare and not more than two such requests came in an year, I was impressed and proud of myself. However, by the time the day ended, I realised why most people preferred vehicles to see the place. My feet ached and all my body wanted was a chair/ bed/ floor to lie down. The absence of any meals and my chappals added to the misery. But then it rained once more and I could finally walk barefoot in water...it was therapeutic.
Chittorgarh is a town swathed in history, perhaps another reason why I was so keen on visiting the place. The list of illustrous rulers is huge and each one has a very interesting story to tell. One of the most famous story is that of Rani Padmini and how she threw herself into the raging fire with thousands of her maids, once her Rana (king) was murdered and the invading king (Khilji) obsessed with possessing her came for her. The act came to be known as Jauhar, and was repeated twice again after this; everytime an invading army won the palace women immolated themselves rather than fall into slavey in their palaces.
Another very intriguing story is that of Meerabai who was married to the King of Mewar, but never accepted him as her husband. For her she always belonged to Lord Krishna, and sang bhajans for him which are popular even today. I find the tolerance of the king commendable as he allowed his own wife to belong to someone else, there is even a temple within a fort dedicated to her. We always read about her even in school as part of Bhakti movement, but somehow the story now seems more real.
As I write this, I am down the hill in the new Chittor town, waiting for my bus. Tired and waiting to sleep, I am glad that I could live one of my dreams today.