Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Chittorgarh Fort, (first built in 7th C), Rajasthan - steeped in poignant history

Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan. patrika.com/
Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan. Chetan Meena/Getty Image.tripsavvy.com
This  formidable fort may look impressive and imposing, but  if you turn the dusty pages of Indian history books, in its background lurks a  sad story that may make your heart sink. The fort witnessed battles where barbarity and brutality ruled the roost.  This was true of many countries until the establishment of democratic system.
Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan.www.ttrikon.com
Built on  a 180 meter tall hillock and covering roughly 700 acres of rugged terrain is a famous historical fort of  Chittorgarh (Chittaurgarh) in Rajasthan. The town is a testimony to the rich legacy of  Rajput,
their pride as great warriors, sacrifices and  planned administration. This fort reflects  all the great quality and traits of the Rajput clans and their quite known heroism and war exploits.  This massive hilltop fort, steeped in history  is a major tourist attraction in Rajasthan because it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that  way back witnessed  many political events, painful tragic events during the heyday of Mewar rulers. The controversial 2018 Bollywood Indian drama movie "Padmaavat" (based on an epic poem on the legend of Queen Padmavati, wife of 14th century monarch Maharawal Ratan Singh) as you may recall  drew inspiration from the  fort's history.
Meera temple Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan.nativeplanet.com

Enclosed in this  fort is  the Meera and Khumba Shyam Temple that is associated with the great devotee of Sri Krishna - poetess Meera  who was an epitome of devotion to God  and  whose life was spent on conducting  bhajans on lord Sri Krishna. Quite well-known across India, her devotional hymns have become part of the folklore and literary traditions of the region and other places. 
Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan.patrika.com
Considered as the pride of "Pride of Rajasthan State" and its former ruling clan,s  the history of this fort, it is said, goes back to  the  Pandavas of Mahabharata; it is believed to have been built by one of the Pandava brothers ''Bhima''.  Historians say it was built during the reign of   Mauryans  (Chitrangad Mori)  in 7th century.  It was Bappa Rawal, who established the Mewar dynasty, in the mid 8th century and  later rulers of Mewar developed this strategically  located outstanding fort by building additions.  It is said his kingdom stretched  up to Ajmir and on the SW up to part of Gujarat. 

The history of this majestic fort is a poignant one  written in blood shed and  brave self-immolation by Rajput women. It had all links with the invasion of  treacherous Muslim invasion from  the Delhi rulers.  The invasion of Muslim warriors from NW had begun to give  insecurity among the Mewar rulers because they were notorious butchers and destroyers of both Hindu and Buddhist temples. Till the end of 13th century, the fort never faced any major enemy attack or any threats whatsoever.  It is a matter of  debate  as to why did, in 1303, Allaudin Khilji, the brutal ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, attack the fort ? Was it to abduct the beautiful queen of Padmavati, as  some sections of historians believe or  was he just after the strong and strategically-positioned fort  to add to his land?  Anyway, the unexpected invasion by the brutal army from Delhi caused havoc, mayhem and  mass  massacre; the outcome was devastating.  It left behind a trail of bloodshed and death of as many as  30,000 people within the fort. The ruler was either captured or killed in the battle. As for virtuous Padmavati, she, having no choice,  immolated herself along with other women in the royal family. This was done to avoid being  preyed upon  by Allaudin Khilji and his merciless  army.

Later   Mewar rulers   re-eatablished the rule in 1326 and improved the fortification a lot. Rana Kumbha strengthened most of the fort's walls during his reign from 1433 to 1468. Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat  made a successful attack after a long struggle and during the second attack on the fort, the ruler Uday Singh II  and his brother escaped to avoid   facing death and in the wake 13000 Rajput women got into the huge fire to escape harassment, rape and dishonor.
Soon, Emperor Humayun   defeated  the Sultan from Chittorgarh and  and this time he reinstated the inexperienced young Mewar king  Rana Vikramaditya;  He though he could deal with the young ruler easily.

In 1567 Mogul ruler Akbar  of Delhi had an eye on this amazing fort and attacked it with a huge  army.  It took a while for the Mogul army  to access the fort  because of sturdy stone walls and they  did it by way  of blasting their  way  with mines and digging  tunnels. They also used cannons to damage the fort when necessary arose. When the Mogul ruler  captured it in 1568  Rana Udai Singh II had escaped from the scene, asking his commanders to take care of the battle. This time thousands of  of common  people were slaughtered by Akbar's army and this again resulted in the  mass immolation of  Rajput women inside the fort.  At last, Mogul ruler Jehangir made a peace treaty with the Mewar rulers in 1616 and between 1884 and 1930 some palaces and other structures came up.
chittorgarh-fort, Rajsthan. .transindiatravels.com
Perched atop a  hillock, it is not that easy to access the fort that has lots of impediments besides  massive stone structures  close to the gates  as part of  fortifications. Guarded by a watch tower over  seven  huge gates  fitted with massive sharp iron spikes to prevent ramming of sturdy war elephants, the fort is almost self-contained.  The reservoirs, chhatris, stambha, palaces and temples  inside the fort get the attention of tourists. There  were as many as 84 water bodies in the form of wells, ponds and step wells with the storage capacity of 4 billion liters of water in the by-gone era. But, presently, there are only 22 water bodies. The fort could withstand siege  by enemies  for a pretty long time. The enemy's army had to put in lots of efforts to reach the fort. 
 https://www.tripsavvy.com/chittorgarh-fort-the-complete-guide-4174892
 http://revolvingcompass.com/chittorgarh-fort/