I was just about finishing my Rajasthan trip and was looking for at least one new place from Udaipur before taking that train to Mumbai when I came across information on Chittorgarh Fort. I had heard about the fort but it was a 120 km ride from Udaipur. In March heat, it’s doubly exhausting. Nobody from the hostel wanted to go that far, renting bikes to swim in a lake was obviously more tempting.
I couldn’t drop the idea from my head, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go. So I decided to go by myself to this mystic fort of Chittorgarh.
Chittorgarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India with a perimeter of 13 km and about 60 odd monuments inside. Some in great shape but some are merging with the ground by the day.
It provides a great mix of Historical monuments, popular folklore, and beautiful ruins.
How to Reach Chittorgarh Fort:
- By Train: There’s a train station in Chittorgarh which is about 7 km from Chittorgarh fort
- By Air: The nearest airport is Udaipur airport
- Bus: There are buses to Chittorgarh from every other big tourist town like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Pushkar.
Reaching Chittorgarh fort from Udaipur:
The only feasible train was leaving at 9:30 a.m. and I missed it owing to a Doctor’s appointment.
I contemplated renting a bike but I had no idea about the terrain and driving for about 3 hours in the sun didn’t seem that tempting plus what if I got into trouble with the bike on a deserted street.
I eventually decided to go for a Bus, that way I could enjoy my complimentary breakfast at the hostel, have time for a shower, and not leave in a hurry.
There are multiple buses to Chittorgarh during the day, I found one as soon as I reached the bus station. It was a luxury bus but I didn’t want to waste any more time so took it. It took about 2 hours each way.
Bus Ticket Price:
- A/C – Rs. 180
- Non A/C local bus – Rs. 95
From Chittorgarh bus station there are multiple shared autos to the ticket counter which takes around Rs. 30 in total.
- Entry fee for Indians: Rs. 40
- Entry fee for foreigners: Rs. 600
One nice thing about this fort is that you don’t need to buy the ticket unless you intend to enter any of these monuments. A lot of places can be visited without the entry ticket as there are roads inside. But the ticket is issued only at the entrance and if you change your mind later, you’ll have to go back all the way to the main gate to get it.
I don’t see any reason why an Indian shouldn’t buy the ticket. It’s probably the most I have seen in a fort in Rs. 40. Also, probably the cheapest entry ticket I paid in entire Rajasthan most other places were an average Rs. 100.
Why is Chittorgarh Fort special?
- It’s one of the two living forts of India. The other one being Jaisalmer fort. Although this aspect of the fort was not that exciting. People do live inside the fort but in a very modern section of the area and if I may add, it was not the cleanest part.
- It’s the largest fort of India. With a perimeter of 13 km, it offers something for every taste, ruins, history, palaces, temples, parks, sunset points.
What to see inside the fort:
While I was standing at the entrance under the scorching heat, I told myself I was going to see just a couple of monuments, definitely the Padmavati Palace and leave.
With the very first building, I realised everything around looked very unique. There are monuments from different era echoing different sentiments. So, I hired a guide with a motorbike.
For anyone with limited time, I recommend:
1. Rana Kumbha Palace:
Now in ruins, this Palace can swiftly take you back to the times when Chittor was the capital of Mewar. Without a guide, it seemed a little overwhelming but a lot of things are easy to understand and I’m not too sure if the guide even gave the right information.
Some notable things about this Palace:
- Even though most people enter from the main city through a Kilometer long winding road, the main entrance was through Suraj pol on the other side of the Fort.
- All the entrances are small allegedly to limit the number of people that could enter at once in times of war
- Rani Meerabai lived in this Palace after her marriage
- This is where Rani Padmavati had committed Jauhar according to historians (disputed by some) in the early 14th century
2. Meera temple:
This temple is dedicated to Rani Meera who was an ardent Krishna devotee. She lived in the fort after her marriage and this is where her Brother-in-law allegedly tried to get her killed multiple times but failed.
3. Vijay Stambha:
This tower is representative of victory. Erected by Rana Kumbha in the 15th century to commemorate his victory over Mahmud Shah khalji.
One can walk to the top through a narrow staircase inside. It’s about 8 story high. The beautiful balconies are now barricaded but it still has nice views of the fort.
‘Vijay’ literally translates to victory and ‘Stambha’ means tower, is pictured on many of the medals and certificates given out in the state making it a popular emblem of Winning.
4. Jauhar Sthal:
The fort has witnessed three different Jauhar and this clearly marked area is where the second Jauhar is said to have taken place in 16th century.
During the excavation of some the sites, ashes and bones were recovered cementing the local theories.
5. Rani Padmavati temple:
From the moment I got on that bus, I was excited about seeing Rani Padmavati’s palace. Anything that talked about her story. I was intrigued since the movie ‘Padmaavat‘ came out.
The temple is a massive disappointment, reeking of pigeon shit stink, it’s the least impressive place in the fort. However, I still recommend you to just suck it up, and give it a visit because inside is the only image of Rani Padmavati in the entire fort.
A sculptors’ rendition of Rani Padmavati.
6. Gomukh Kund:
My guide had conveniently missed this spot and fortunately I had seen some people go to this lake from a view point and it came back to me. I went back to it by walk after letting off the guide and this was one of the highlights in the fort.
The water reservoir still has water unlike most other reservoirs inside the fort that have dried up.
It is said that the steps that I saw in Rana Kumbha palace going underneath met here to make it convenient for women.
7. Samdeshwar Mahadev temple:
This old style shiva temple is next to the kund and the water coming inside the temple is supposed to have medicinal values. Many people got their water bottle filled. There are monkeys here so beware of any eatables in your hands.
8. Rani Padmavati Mahal:
My most awaited moment, I wanted to sea and picture where this Queen lived, known to be the most beautiful of her times.
My guide mentioned for the third time, ‘she was so beautiful, whenever she drank water one could see it going down her throat’.
She was known to be a great warrior but contrary to what one would expect of her in today’s time, when her husband was faced with defeat in war against Alauddin Khalji, she chose to give her life away in Jauhar (self-immolation).
Even though I could only picture Deepika Padukone the entire time I thought of Rani Padmavati, the locals have little respect for the movie. I coyly initiated a discussion on the movie and my guide said ‘The movie is banned in entire Chittor’. Some scenes in the movie still in contradiction with the popular Rajput beliefs after multiple edits.
The movie as clearly mentioned by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is based on the Urdu poet Malik Mohammad Jayasi’s poem, the local’s strongly believe that Rani Padmavati’s face was never shown in the mirror to Alauddin Khilji as shown in the movie as mirrors were not invented back then and for Rajput’s, it would be an act of defeat itself to let the enemy see his wife’s face.
All the mirrors that were installed in the 20th century in preparation for our then Prime Minister Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit, were broken by the locals, the fort remained closed for an entire day, and the movie could not release in Chittor.
Rani Padmavati’s summer palace overlooks this garden. The Palace is surrounded by water to keep it cool and the palace itself is not accessible for tourist’s anymore. I tried reaching as far as I could through the stone that had surfaced, but realized there was no way to go inside the palace anyway. The entrance from the front was locked, and there were no other entrances. But it was surreal to see it from so close anyway.
Best ways to experience Chittorgarh fort:
It’s quite intimidating to decide how to see it in the best possible way esp. if you don’t have your own vehicle.
I would recommend a guide to ease things but it’s a challenge to find a good one as mine conveniently skipped some important spots.
Another good alternative could be to get a guide book from the entrance or at Rana Kumbha palace and walk around yourself and spend as much time as you wish at each location.
Tuktuks take about Rs. 200 to go everywhere and drop you back at the bus station as well.
Start early so you have time at the fort. I’m sure sunset here would be a sight but I didn’t want to go back too late so I left just before sunset. If you could stay at Chittor, try to see the sunset, there are many shared vehicles going back to the town.
I strongly recommend anyone interested in reading up more about the Palace to visit their Wiki page.