After ending our amazing two days in jaipur, it was time to bid adieu to this beautiful city and embark on this road trip of ours which we were so eagerly looking forward to. Our next destination was Udaipur where we were staying for three nights. For this road trip, we hired a car and a driver as all the places were far away from each other and we didn't wanted to get tired from driving all the time. I suggest you do the same as these drivers are well versed when it comes to the roads and sometimes the roads reaching the forts can be tricky . You will know more about it as we proceed.
On 14th October we started early in the morning from Jaipur. We bid our farewell to our other friends as the rest of the trip was only me,Bedanga and Abhishek.
The plan for the day was to reach Udaipur in the evening by taking a detour and covering Chittorgarh on our way. The distance between Jaipur to Udaipur can be covered in six hours but since we were taking a detour we hoped to reach Udaipur by the evening. The distance between Jaipur to Chittorgarh was to be covered in seven hours and from Chittorgarh it takes three hours to reach Udaipur.
We were going on a road trip after ages. Our moods and also the weather that day was all bright and sunny. The roads are nice when you are on the highway; but since we were taking a detour, the roads became narrower and a bit bumpy at places on our way to Chittorgarh. If you are going directly to Udaipur, you might get better roads then we did.
After making few stops for tea breaks and pee breaks(keep that "pee safe" and hand sanitiser ready) at random roadside dhabas, we were almost in Chittorgarh by lunch time. Before entering the city we decided to stop for lunch at a dhaba. The food in these road side dhabas are so delicious, even though the appearance might scare you sometimes if you are strict about your hygiene. But you know what they say about keeping an open mind while travelling right!
Chittorgarh might sound familiar to you as it became quite a sensation in recent times during the controversies surrounding the release of the movie "Padmavat". Yes, it's the same Chittorgarh and it exists in real life. Chittorgarh is a small town and the only attraction here is the "Chittor fort". As we entered the city we got stuck right in the middle of bad traffic and on enquiring we got to know that the entire town and even people from nearby towns are all going inside the fort as it was Navratri and there is an old "mata ka mandir" inside the fort. Such a bummer right! But we somehow managed to pass through and enter the main gate. Alas, that was not the end of our problems. These forts are built at higher grounds and narrow roads lead up to them with even narrower gates at different points. This was done to build maximum resistance against invading armies. Two cars cannot pass through these gates at the same time and the traffic was getting worse as a result. After a lot of patience and crossing a number of narrow gates, we were finally inside the fort. My tip will be to avoid going there on Navratri or go in the first half as people throng the fort in the afternoon for the evening aarti.
The "Chittor Fort" of Chittorgarh is an UNESCO world heritage site and is one of the largest forts in India. It's not very popular with tourists like the forts of Jaipur but it's breathtaking and it's huge. You cannot imagine how huge it is until you are inside. We had to take a guide for our tour inside the fort. All the locals thronging the fort were only in the area where the temple was, the other parts of the fort were fairly empty other than a few handful of tourists. What's funny when I look at the pictures now is that I am wearing a pair of joggers. I got so late while waking up in the morning and we had to start early, so I grabbed whatever I got my hands on. That is the story of me being the most shabbily dressed tourist in Chittor that day.
The history of Chittorgarh is as mesmerising as the fort itself. Chittorgarh was originally known as "Chitrakut" and is known to have been established by the Maurya king "Chitrangada Maurya". Beginning in the 7th century, the fort was the capital of Mewar. Later during the 9th century, it came under the Paramara dynasty and one of the successors of this dynasty was "Rana Rawal Ratan Singh" who was the husband of Rani Padmavati. During his reign in the 13th century, Alauddin Khalji attacked Chittor and captured it. During this time only it is believed that Rani Padmavati committed self immolation or "Jauhar" with nineteen thousand other women inside the fort. What is intriguing and sad at the same time is that this was not the only Jauhar which was committed inside the fort of Chittor. In 1535, Bahadur shah attacked Chittor and defeated the then ruler Bikramjeet Singh and in 1567 Akbar attacked and defeated Maharana Udai Singh. And during all those instances, women in large numbers committed "Jauhar" inside the fort. While I was there, the stories of Jauhar kept bothering me. After reading all the debate on it, I was somewhat torn on my opinion of it. When I found myself standing at this place, it dawned on me that whatever happened for whichever reasons, it was a long long time ago. Centuries ago. To have a debate on it, trying to criticise or justify it is actually useless. It was a different time and it was a different situation. Our opinion of it is actually not required at all.
Another story that still echoes inside the Chittor Fort is the story of "Meerabai" the true devotee of Krishna. She was the daughter of the royal family of Jodhpur and was married to "Rana Kumbha" of Chittor who later went on to establish "Kumbhalgarh". There is a temple dedicated to Meera inside the Chittor fort with many stories associated with it about how she was facing a tough time explaining her devotion to Krishna and was banished for it and how later she was enveloped by a mysterious light and became one with Krishna. If you think about it, Chittor actually has stories of women who were brave but frustrated with men. Not very different from the situation now right!!
The fort is spread over an area of 700 acres and there are people living in one part of the fort. These people are believed to have been living inside the fort from centuries, generation after generation. Large areas inside the fort are jungles and ruins. It's a different experience to see the ruins being taken over by jungles now. And to think that this was a thriving capital city during its prime can sometimes make your imaginations run wild. If you are intrigued by the ruins of "Angkor Wat", I suggest you visit Chittor too. It's beautiful.
The main attractions inside the fort are the Vijay stambha, Kirti stambha, Rana Kumbha palace and many jain temples. The fort has many water reservoirs too. Although around five thousand people still live inside the fort, they are concentrated in one area only. The older structures are mostly in ruins now.
Vijay stambha was constructed by Rana Kumbha to celebrate his victory over Mahmud Shah Khalji. Built over a period of ten years, the craftsmanship of the Vijay stambha is extraordinary. It stands tall in the fort of Chittor and can be seen from almost all points inside the fort. Another Stambh called Kirti Stambh is believed to be older then the Vijay Stambh and was constructed by a jain merchant. The beauty of these stambhas cannot be put into words. Rana Kumbha's palace is mostly in ruins now and in here is the "Jauhar kund".
As the fort is huge, there are roads inside the fort and you can easily navigate inside the fort with your car. From the fort you can have breathtaking view of the Aravalis. The battleground where most of the battles were fought can be spotted too from atop the hill.
We made our way through the ruins and jungles of the Chittor fort to "Rani Padmini palace". This is where Rani Padmavati used to reside. The palace is built in the middle of a water body and can only be seen from a distance now. Nobody is allowed to go inside. This palace is said to be the inspiration behind Jaipur's famous "Jal Mahal".
While making our way to the palace, we could see a lot of old houses and temples which were now in ruins, with plants growing all over them. The entire place is shrouded in the mystery of the ruins. If you stand on higher grounds, you can see the ruins scattered all over the place and it's a huge place as I told you already. It sometimes can give you the creeps. I could only imagine how creepy it will be at night. As we sat marvelling over this huge fort and its stories, the sun went lower and lower bathing the entire place in an even mysterious shade of orange.
It was one of the most beautiful and peaceful sunsets we saw and before we knew it, it was time to leave. We were meaning to be in Udaipur by evening, but due to our traffic situation while entering the fort it got late and dark while we were still in Chittorgarh.
We made our way to Udaipur after that and reached quite late. We were so tired that we slept right after checking in at our hotel. Chittor left such a beautiful mark in our souls and we knew that a beautiful sunrise awaited us at Udaipur.
As we were so tired when we reached Chittorgarh after all the travelling and traffic snarls, we clicked less pictures. Also, the time was very limited as the fort closes after sunset. We took it all in with our naked eyes. If you find yourself in Rajasthan someday, try not to miss out on this mysterious and beautiful place called Chittor. Do not expect the grandeur and opulence of Jaipur palaces and forts because Chittor is nothing like that. Chittor is old and it has stories to tell you at every corner. The architecture too is very different than what you see in Jaipur. My suggestion will be to head directly to Udaipur from Jaipur. Once you are in Udaipur, do a day trip to Chittor. That way you will be less tired and will have more time on your hands to explore the beautiful ruins of Chittor.