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|15th February 2009, 14:23||#31|
First Eve at Chittaur
Day 9 – 9th October 2008 (continued)
As we left Ajmer for Chittaur, Sparky (folks from Ahmedabad) had left Udaipur behind on their way to Chittaur. They had to cover 100 kilometers and we had to cover 200 kilometers. With that thought on the back of my mind, the drive to Chittaur was quiet but spirited. Speeds sometime touching in excess of 150 km/h. However when I reached Chittaur at 4:00 pm, the Sparky was still outside Chittaur, stuck in a minor traffic jam. The Sparky finally appeared at 4:30 pm amidst a lot of booing from the members traveling in Adventure. This was no race or something, just fun.
At 5:00 pm we were at the reception of Hotel Pratap Palace. The room rates were budget but we wanted a hotel which can assist us with our excursions while in Chittaur and should have a decent restaurant. We felt that although the hotel was really good and room rates were budget but it didn’t fair well on other two parameters. The service of this hotel is more inclined to serve western tourists that dot Chittaur. They have their own Safari vehicles and take you on tours. The restaurant is also geared more towards western food instead of local flavor.
Hotel Pratap Palace in the backdrop
Quick scanning of guide books and research printouts took us to Hotel Panna (run by RTDC). The rates were 10-20% more than at Pratap Palace but the rooms were not as clean and well maintained. We finally settled for Hotel Meera on Chittaur - Nimach highway. The reception desk was most helpful and it has a restaurant that’s quite popular in Chittaur.
We checked in at 6:15 pm. The only thing on agenda that evening was to attend the Light & Sound show that starts at 7:00 pm. The fort is half an hour away from the hotel and so it required that we leave immediately to reach in time. But big families take their own sweet time. We were ready to leave only at 6:45 pm. After a quick chat with some of the rickshaw owners outside the hotel, we decided that we are not taking our own vehicles – to save time as we don’t know the route, and the rickshaw owner promised to call the fort authorities to delay the start by 15 minutes. It was quite nice of them.
We reached the Light and Sound venue at 7:20 pm and the show was just beginning. The show happens on the backdrop of Rana Kumba’s palace. A part of the palace is in the picture below.
I must say this. The show was extraordinary. The music arrangement and effect was one of the best I have ever heard. The vocals have been provided by Shahrukh Khan, Hema Malini and some other film stars. It should be on your must do list if you are visiting Chittaur anytime.
The shot below was taken from a view point while returning. Although poorly composed, it does capture some of the beauty of Chittaur city as seen from the fort.
While returning we went shopping from the handicraft shop situated at the fort. Shri Mewar Hast Kala Kendra near Ram Pole gate. Most of the items on this shop are certified and also come with money back guarantee when you want to return them. They had a special collection of sarees for which the fabric was made out of bamboo.
We retired for the day after a good dinner at in house restaurant at hotel Meera. Tomorrow we will explore the Chittaur fort.
To be continued…
P.S.: I appreciate your suggestions and am trying to be as quick as I can. I am slow at processing information that I want to be included in this travelogue. Thanks for your patience.
Last edited by akbaree : 15th February 2009 at 14:25.
|17th February 2009, 02:52||#32|
Chittaurgarh is a place with such a unique history and situation that you will not find any comparable place in the world – Irmgard Meininger
Historical Context: May be many of you are aware of the rich historical heritage associated with Chittaurgarh and would find this post adding no value, but my travelogue will remain incomplete without this post. So before I take you to the fort of Chittaurgarh, a brief historical context is warranted.
Chittaurgarh was founded by Mauryan king Chitrangad Maurya in early 7th century and was initially know as Chitrakut. It remained with Mauryan kings till 734 AD. In 734 AD the first Afghan invaders have reached Chittaurgarh and the then Mauryan king Raja Man Mori considered surrendering Chittaurgarh to the invaders as the Afghan enemy was much larger in size. Raja Man Mori was maternal uncle of Bappa Rawal. Bappa Rawal gathered the Rajput forces that were against surrendering and won the heroic battle against the Afghan invaders. He not only won the battle but also the trust and love of the people. He was made the chief. And so began the saga of Mewar Dynasty.
Bappa Rawal was the founder of the kingdom of Mewar and all the subsequent rulers of Mewar are considered to be descendants of the blood of Bappa Rawal. The ancestry of Bappa Rawal can be traced back to Guhil born in 566 AD to Queen Pushpavati. She named her son Guhil as she gave birth in a cave (Guhil = cave born). The Rajput rulers of Mewar are thus considered as Guhilots. Queen Pushpavati’s family belonged to Idar (in Gujarat).
Chittaurgarh remained capital of Mewar kingdom (refer map) for more than 800 years. It was in late 16th century that Rana Udai Sing II moved out of Chittaurgarh and founded Udaipur. Since then Udaipur has remained capital of the Mewar kingdom. After more than 1300 years of rule, the rulers of Mewar are considered to be the world’s longest serving dynasty.
During the 800 glorious years, Chittaur was sacked three times.
I tried taking the entire hillock on which the fort is situated but with panorama assist, it took several pictures to scope the entire hillock and I gave up. Here is a single picture taken from the north.
The sackings of Chittaur were not normal events as each sacking was accompanied by valiant resistance by the resident warriors and Jauhar by the women. During all the three sackings, the entire population residing at the fort went down fighting. It was bloody but that’s what the history of Mewar take pride in.
Chittaur has been an epitome of Rajput valor, pride, and all other values that we associate with the community. Chittaur also embodies the beauty and superlative sacrifices of the Rajput women. Chittaur is also associated with Meera Bai – one of the best known poets from Bhakti Tradition. How can one city encompass so much?
Some important personalities associated with Chittaur
Rani Padmini: Rani Padmini was wife of Rana Ratan Singh I (1302-1303AD) and considered to be one of the most beautiful queens ever in the annals of Indian history. She was from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The stories of her beauty were so popular that Ala ud din Khilji attacked Chittaur two times – in 1302 AD and 1303 AD. The only ambition Khilji had in attacking Chittaur was to win Rani Padmini. Khilji could sack Chittaur but didn’t get anything as all the Rajput men died fighting and Rani Padmini and all other noble women of her court organized the first Jauhar by submitting themselves to flames instead of accepting dishonor. Rani Padmini’s life and death has been epitome of beauty, pride, and sacrifice in the folklore of Rajasthan.
Rana Kumbha: After Rana Hammir Singh (who had recaptured Chittaur after Khilji’s sack) Rana Kumbha (1433-1468) is considered to be one of the greatest kings of medieval India. He was a great general and played a key role in expanding the Mewar kingdom. He also ensured Chittaur’s sovereignty by defeating many Muslim Sultans including Mahmud Khalji of Malwa. Additionally he was keenly interested in arts and patronized many architectural activities. He built 32 forts including the fort of Kumbhalgarh (named after him). He was also responsible for building some of the structures at the Chittaur fort and renovating most of them.
Rana Sangha (Rana Sangram Singh I): The mighty Sangha (1509-27) was the grandson of Rana Kumbha. According to some sources, he is credited to unite nearly all Rajput forces – Amber (Jaipur), Marwar (Jodhpur), Gwalior, Ajmer, and others under his command. He was responsible for overthrowing Ibrahim Lodhi, the Sulta of Delhi, in 1526. He then led the combined Rajput forces in the fight against Babur. He fought so successfully with Babur, at Bayana, that Babur had become extremely demoralized and had abjured the consumption of his beloved wine forever. But Sangha got badly injured in the battle and was poisoned by his own generals who didn’t wanted to continue resisting the Mughal Babur. When the mighty Sangha died, he had lost an eye and an arm, possessed a crippled leg, and had eighty wounds from swords or lances on various parts of his body. And he wanted to continue to battle if not for poisoning by his generals.
Meera Bai: Meera Bai was born to a Rathor father – Ratan Singh (founder of Jodhpur) in the Merta village of Rajasthan. Merta is part of Marwar region but she was married to Rana Bhojraj (son for Rana Sangha) of Mewar. She is considered to be one of the greatest poetess that India has ever produced.
Maharana Pratap: Maharana Pratap was the eldest son of Rana Udai Singh II (founder of Udaipur) and is considered to be the most legendary ruler of Mewar. Rana Udai Singh II had left Chittaur (which was later sacked by Akbar) and made Udaipur his capital. Maharana Pratap was a young prince when Udai Sing II had taken that decision on the advice of the court nobles. But Maharana Pratap couldn’t stand this fact and all his life his only dream was to recapture Chittaur from Akbar. At the time when other Rajput kings were accepting Mughals as their lords and giving their daughters as wives to Mughal kings to keep peace, he abdicated his life in Udaipur and chose to fight the combined forces of Akbar, and other Rajput kings from Marwar and Amber who had taken side with Mughals. His dream of recaturing Chittaur was never realized but he died a free man.
In the entire 800+ year history of Chittaur, baring a couple of instances, there has been no incidence when the rulers of Chittaur gave in to oppression or accepted any other ruler’s supremacy. There is no recorded incidence of any ruler of Chittaur giving their women for peace alliances. I am not saying that doing any of this was bad or inferior, but the rulers of Chittaur had different take on life and death.
To be continued…
|17th February 2009, 22:15||#33|
A day at Chittaur Fort – Part 1
Day 10 – 10th October 2009
We started early (early was 9:00 am) so that we have enough time to explore the fort. Actually one can spend days exploring the fort, but a couple of days should be sufficient for an average tourist. The government certified guides take you round the fort in 2 hours. So please ensure that you know what the purpose is for your visit. If you are just passing by, as most of the tourists do, the two hour guided tour may work out well.
We had decided to take the same rickshaws that we took yesterday evening for the Light & Sound show. The rickshaw owners – Guddu and Farhan had proved good hosts on the previous evening. We had clarified with them that we are not interested in the guided tour (Guddu was also a certified guide) and we would keep them engaged the whole day. The deal was done and we started our journey after a good breakfast. The fort has very less options for food, so please carry your own food. Almost all the vendors at the fort may agree to treat you to Dal Baati lunch but charge exorbitantly.
Fort: The fort of Chittaur is situate on a 180 m high table hill , has deep declivities on all sides and spread across 700 acres. The fort is surrounded by 13 kilometers of battlement and the hill extension from the north to the south is almost 5 kilometers. The fort dates back to Mauryan and Bappa Rawal’s reign (early 7th Century). The monuments inside the fort belong to different time periods ranging from 7th Century to 16th Century AD. There are more than 100 lakes inside the fort.
The fort has entries from west (which is the main entrance) as well as east. We entered the fort from the west and had to go thru 7 Pols (gates) to reach the view below.
The last Pol – Ram Pol
Padmini Palace: The very first monument we visited was Padmini Palace. Some historians believe that the original palace must have been destroyed and the one that we see in the picture below was reconstructed from the remains of the original palace.
This structure is in original. As the queen will come out or enter her palace, the maids of honor will shower flowers from the porches.
After defeating Ala ud din Khilji in 1302 AD, Rana Ratan Singh agreed to Khilji’s beseech to allow him to see Rani Padmini once. Khilji was shown just the reflection of Rani Padmini in the water pavilion from a mirror that is still present opposite to the window in the picture below.
Kalika Mata Temple: Historians consider this temple to be one of the oldest structures in the Chittaur fort. It was constructed by Bappa Rawal as a sun temple. After the first sack by Khilji, it was rebuilt by Rana Hammir Singh as a Kali temple.
The main deity…
Carving on the wall…
Carving on the pillar…
Carving on the roof…
The roof carving below reminds me of the carvings found in Hoysala temples. There was so much collaboration in those ancient times and it’s a petty that we have all sorts of people even after a millennium dividing us on the lines of language, ethnicity, et al.
|18th February 2009, 01:22||#34|
Join Date: Dec 2007
Thanked: 79 Times
really fascinating amulgamation of history, travelogue, and pictures. enjoying it every bit.
which historical place is your next destination, will join in and will not need any guide
|18th February 2009, 22:30||#35|
A day at Chittaur Fort – Part 2
After Kalika Mata temple, we moved still north and reached the Vijay Stambha (Victory Tower). Vijay Stambha was constructed by Rana Kumbha around 1440 AD after defeating the combined forces of Malwa and Gujarat led by Mahmud Khalji.
Architecturally, Vijay Stambh is one of the most intricate monuments at Chittaur. It is 9 storied (120 feet) richly ornamented limestone structure. The public is allowed to climb up to 8th storey. Unfortunately my son made up his mind that he is unhappy and hungry. Everyone else went till the 8th storey, I and my wife were baby sitting him. I could have taken some pictures of the beautiful carvings as well as the great view of the fort (from the 8th storey), but alas.
There are quite a few monuments around the Vijay Stambh. The most intriguing is the Samadishvara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. I found the temple to be extraordinary. It was built in 11th Century and was renovated by Rana Mokal in 1428 AD. Hence it is also called as Mokalji temple.
After entering the antarala, as soon as you peep inside the small door into the garbhagriha, you would be taken aback by a huge image of Trimurti Shiva. I am sure you may not be as impressed with the photograph below but one has to feel the strength that emanates from the idol.
The art work at the temple is considered to be inspired by the Khajuraho temples...
Besides the temple, towards south, there are a couple of old temples. The ASI still has to do some work to find their exact antecedents.
From east, the stairs go down that take you to Gaumukh. The reservoir is considered sacred and some take bath here. It is believed that the flow of water that you see in the picture below is perennial; on an isolated hillock.
To the north of Samadhishvara temple, is the crematorium ground. It is also believed that Rani Karnavati (widow of mighty Rana Sangha, and mother of Rana Udai Singh) and other noble women had committed the second Jauhar in 1535 AD. In the present state, you see only a garden and a Yagya Kund. Rana Arvind Singh (of Udaipur) still performs Yagna here during Shivaratri.
To be continued…
|18th February 2009, 22:48||#36|
The travelogue is a reflection. I am sure I will not be able to guide you while on the exploration journey. But yes, I would be happy to be your guide if you want to visit Chittaur now.
|18th February 2009, 23:58||#37|
Join Date: Dec 2007
Thanked: 79 Times
|19th February 2009, 08:09||#38|
|21st February 2009, 01:04||#39|
A day at Chittaur Fort – Part 3
We now have to move to eastern monuments. We take the north to south route along the western battlements. As we turn east we were driving across this kund. Anyone would be able to make out the poor show of maintenance by the ASI.
On the right side of the Kund, we had the reserved area which was once a deer sanctuary. It’s now closed for public and according to our guide there are no deer left. As we reach the eastern battlements and turn north (left), we had this view. It’s amazing on one side we have the busy Chittaur city and across, we have only farms.
We pass Bhamlat Kund (the picture above) and reach Adbuthnath temple. This temple was built by Rana Raimal in late 15th Century and has a huge Shivalinga in the garbhagriha. There’s no information available around the monument. As I said ASI still has lot of work to do…
The heat is showing up on the faces but don’t miss the beautiful carving on the temple walls in the background.
We move ahead and reach Suraj Pol. There’s a way to fort from the eastern side as well. And Suraj Pol is the last gate towards fort.
There are multiple gates even on the eastern side. One gate is just outside the Suraj Pol
It is believed that Ala Ud Din Khilji was brought to the fort thru Suraj Pol.
As we move ahead we reach Kirti Stambha. Kirti Stambha was built by a rich Jain merchant in 12th Century and is dedicated to Adinath Rishabhdeo, the first Jain tirthankara. Kirti Stambha is some 25 feet shorter than Vijay Stambha and has 7 storeys. Just next to Kirti Stambha is a Jain temple (Mahavir Swami temple).
Playing with my 8x zoom gives some amazing detail of the roof carvings. Unlike Vijay Stambha, public is not allowed to scale Kirti Stambha.
We then start moving towards west again and reach government museum – Maharana Fateh Singh Palace. The govt. museum, among lot of stone sculptures, has a collection of weapons discovered from the fort. Photography is not allowed inside the museum but I managed to click couple of shots…
The sculpture below is discovered from Nagari (20 km from Chittaur) and dates back to more than 2500 years
A beautiful painting of Krishna…
To be continued…
Coming up next: A day at Chittaur – Part 4
|22nd February 2009, 13:21||#41|
A day at Chittaur – Part 4
We continued our rendezvous with Chittaur fort and moved to last few important monuments planned for the day.
Kumbha Shyam temple and Meera temple are next to each other.
Kumbha Shyam temple was largely renovated by Rana Kumbha in 1448 AD and was originally dedicated to the Varaha (Lord Vishnu). Hence the main idols in this temple are Radha, Krishna, and Lord Vishnu.
Some pictures of the temple
The image of Garuda in front of the temple…
The temple dedicated to Meera Bai is relatively smaller in size but has some nice art work on the walls. As you enter the temple, you are greeted with a simple structure. The main garbhagriha is also elementary but has life like quality. There was a blind old man singing bhajans written by Meera Bai inside the temple and the devotion was evident. We were audience to couple of beautiful bhajans that he sang unaware that this family was party to his devotion.
We now proceed towards our last destination on the Chittaur fort – Rana Kumbha palace.
Although it is called Rana Kumbha palace, some portions of the palace would have existed from the time of Mauryan kings. First renovation of the palace was done by Maharana Hammir in middle of 14th century after the first sack of Chittaur. But it is called Rana Kumbha palace because it was Rana Kumbha who renovated the palace in a big way. It is this palace where Rana Udai Singh (founder of Udaipur) was born. It is this palace where all other Ranas and Maharanas of Mewar have lived and led their lives. The Zanana Mahal which is part of the palace housed the chivalrous and beautiful queens of the rulers of Mewar including the legendary poetess Meera Bai. It is also believed that in a cellar in this palace, Rani Padmini and other noble women performed the first Jauhar.
It was late evening and this is first time I tried with increasing the exposure setting. The pictures have come bright when compared to the available light but have lost some details…
The underground entrance to the cellar…
It was closing time and we could hardly spend 20 minutes in the palace. But then there’s always next time.
As we were making our way to the city of Chittaur thru the 7 Pols on the west entrance, we had the Chattris of Jaimal and Patta. It is at this very location that these brave knights lost their lives fighting with the forces of Akbar.
Both the Chattris are near to Bhairav Pol (2nd Pol if you are entering the fort from west entrance)
As we left the India’s largest fort behind us, we felt blessed as it’s spectra of romance and courage will always encircle our thoughts.
While in the city we had observed banners of Meera Mahotsav all over the city. While returning to hotel I thought of enquiring about entry passes from the venue. I was informed that the entry is free and no passes are required.
It was the 4 day annual Mahotsav (with performances by different acknowledged artists on all 4 days) concluding on Sharad Poonam - the janam tithi of Meera Bai. On the Sharad Poonam eve, the program was at the Meera Bai temple on the fort. And the only thing I feel sad about that we didn’t had time to wait till Sharad Poonam. It would have been quite serene to attend such a live performance at the fort, at the Meera Bai temple, on a full moon night.
Nevertheless, I and my aunt, after quickly refreshing at the hotel, came back and sat thru the Bhajan Sandhya where Kankeshwari Devi sang some eternal Bhajans written by Meera Bai. Of course she was performing here as part of the Meera Mahotsav. The experience was blissful to say the list. I was amazed at the amount of homework Kankeshwari Devi had done to perform at the Mahotsav. And I must also admit that anyone who loves music should make it a point to visit concerts.
For dinner, we went to a dhaba on NH79, some 8-10 kilometers from Chittaur. The name of the dhaba was Thakur’s Dhaba and food was above average.
To be continued…
Tomorrow we are going to Nagari…
|23rd February 2009, 15:58||#42|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2005
Thanked: 129 Times
Fantastic report and pictures. Covering 4.5k kms is a real achivement.
During the entire journey is there at any point did you felt tired/boring of driving
|25th February 2009, 10:14||#43|
Nagari, and back to Ahmedabad
Day 11 – 11th October 2008
Nagari is 20 kilometers from Chittaur on the way to Bassi and Bundi. Nagari is considered to be one of the oldest inhabitations in Rajasthan. The excavations carried out here have unearthed many interesting facts from the early Maurya upto Gupta era.
We had already cut a deal with Farhan to accompany us to Nagari. We made a comfortable start at around 8:30 am. We had only sparse information about this place so thought of visiting the Rajasthan Tourism office which happens to be only a kilometer away from Hotel Meera. The gentleman – Bhanwarlal at the tourism office was most cordial and gave us some information that he had. He also gave us his office and residence number in case we need his assistance. We were soon on our way to Nagari.
We reached Nagari at 10:00 am and our friend Farhan was as clueless as we on how to proceed. As we entered the village, we first came across Hathi Bada – an excavation site with no information about it and the guardian from ASI was missing. So we moved on and started looking for the Shiva temple. After asking to many villagers we were finally able to find it.
Out of no where…
This temple is more than 2000 years old and is supposedly built during the early Mauryan period. I believe some renovations have been done – like the dome.
The idol of Parvati…
The water ducts…
There were lot of scattered excavated pillars and stone sculpture lying around, indicating the temple would have been grand in those days…
A group photo and time to leave…
Our next destination was Deep Stambha (Devadi in local dialect). And it was no less than a treasure hunt to find it. For some time we kept taking rounds of the farms…
Reached the dead end and had to turn back…
The curious onlooker…
The Deep Stambha was erected by the marauding army of Ala Ud Din Khilji. He had camped here and this 30-40 feet Deep Stambha provided light to the camp at nights.
Yes it lies in a farm that's owned by this family…
He gave us the whole history and was happy to have us there.
My son was so happy with that toy windmill
We had exhausted the water that we carried along, and everyone was thirsty. They gave us a bucket and requested to pull water from the well. But alas, with the kind of know how we had, the bucket fell into the well. The thirsty team waiting for someone to get inside the well and get the bucket out…
There is a way to climb up the Devadi, but we didn’t venture due to bats…
The uneventful afternoon
We reached Chittaur at around 2:30 pm. Our friend Farhan took us to a nice restaurant where we had Dal Baati for lunch. The lunch was awesome to say the least. Then back to Hotel Meera for a checkout.
We finally left Chittaurgarh at 5:00 pm. We had decided to visit Sanwariyaji temple on our way back.
The unassuming temple has a Prasad counter where we bought nice laddoos. After downing some laddoos and a quick darshan, we continued towards Ahmedabad.
A stop at Kherwada for dinner. Being in Gujarat, it was not a dhaba but a restaurant and the food was quite decent. We left Kherwada at 11:00 pm and reached Ahmedabad at 1:00 am.
Coming up: the concluding post…
|25th February 2009, 16:28||#45|
Ahmedabad & returning to Bangalore
The first two days at Ahmedabad were all about just being at home – Cooking, eating, playing, and sleeping.
Day 13 – 13th October
It was my aunt’s 72nd birthday and she had a wish to dine at Agashiye. I was extremely amused because I had no idea why in the world she wants to go in a restaurant that only serves Gujarati Thali. We cannot eat food prepared with jaggery or sugar mixed in almost everything. But then some-things don’t have explanation.
In the end, we actually enjoyed our experience with Agashiye. The ambience and the authentic Gujarati hospitality were just perfect to celebrate. The open terrace location, where we were seated, gave good view of the Nehru Bridge. Anyone going to Ahmedabad (or in Ahmedabad) and if interested in fine dining experience should visit this restaurant. It’s situated in House of Mangaldas Girdhardas, exactly opposite Sidi Syed Jaali (and mosque).
Journey back to Bangalore
Days 14, 15, 16 – 14th to 16th October
We left Ahmedabad around 1:00 pm. This has been a very different vacation for me. I generally spend a lot of time in Ahmedabad with friends, relatives, and generally wandering the city. I was sad that I couldn’t do any of these and also that I will miss Ahmedabad so much.
The journey back to Bangalore was uneventful. We night stayed at Mumbai. hvkumar’s guide to bypass Mumbai to reach the Pune Expressway was a great help. Then it was a continuous drive to Bangalore. We reached our home at 4:00 in the morning.
Honestly speaking, I had great time undertaking this journey. And then, I thoroughly enjoyed reliving the experience thru this travelogue. I want to thank all of you for staying hooked and sharing your comments.
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