Chittorgarh Fort: Jalmahal of Rani Padmini

Today we travel in time entering the Chittorgarh Fort to live an adventure in the style of Indiana Jones, discovering the tragic and passionate story behind the amazing archaeological site of Chittor. We will contemplate its palaces, temples, commemorative monuments and the waterbodies.

Our course starts from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, known as the pink city because all the buildings are finished in pink colours. It is the typical tourist mecca of the country, but this time our journey will continue to the north of the region to reach Chittorgarh. For this you can travel by the Palace on Wheels, a luxury train from the Kanakpura station or it is also possible to go by bus.

We reached Chittorgarh, located on the banks of the river Berach, a tributary of the Banas. This modern city, in blue territory has a good range of hotels for tourists who come, like us, attracted and fascinated by the ruins of the old city of Chittorgarh, the ancient capital of Mewar.

Entering the haunted fort

Finally we reached our destination of the Chittorgarh Fort, located on a hilltop. Around it are the walls of this powerful and fascinating fort. As we walk through its streets, contemplating the enigmatic beauty of its palaces and temples, it is easy to imagine the splendor that this city once had. Its strategic position, to the passage of the commercial routes of caravans aroused the interest of its enemies that was behind its sad and dramatic end.

Let us then immerse ourselves in our story. The whole complex occupies an area of about 3 km, all in typical Rajput architecture, and is composed of the Padmini Palace, the Meera Bai temple, the Tower of Victory and finally the waterbodies as the Gaumukh.

The Mystery begins in Meera Bai Temple

Built, apparently, in the Rajput style is the majestic temple of Meera Bai, a very loved and respected Rajput poetess because of the beautiful poems and songs dedicated to the god Shiva. It is said that one day when she entered the temple singing, the doors closed and the poetess disappeared.

The Curse of Rani Padmini Palace

From the waters of the Gaumukh emerges the palace of the glorious Queen Rani Padmini or Padmavati. The story goes that Rani Padmini was the pretext for Allah-ud-din Khilji to attack Chittorgarh fort, seeking to make her his wife. King Ratan Sen, a rajput warrior was the king of Mewar, in present-day Rajasthan. He was patron of arts and culture in general and maintained peace and stability in a region severely attacked during previous centuries.

Ratan Sen was always surrounded by artists, including musician Raghav Chetan, who unfortunately turned out to be a sorcerer, who sought to actually destroy the peace and reign of Ratan Sen. When he discovered it, he banished Raghav Chetan, painting his face black and making him march on a donkey. This made him gain an enemy who quickly sought revenge.

The sultanate of Delhi was a strong power, which sought to expand through constant violent wars and invasions. Knowing this Raghav Chetan, went to Delhi and with little effort managed to convince Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji for an attack on Chittorgarh, with the main reason being the beauty of Queen Padmini. Blind to get Padmini, Allah-ud-din Khilji prepared his army for a hard attack. But Chittorgarh's defenses turned out to be stronger than expected, and desperate to see the beauty of the queen, he cleverly comes up with an idea.

He sends a message to the king saying that he is Padmini's brother and that he has decided to come to see how his sister is. Ratan Sen prepares the meeting between them, but Padmini refuses to meet, knowing that this was not really her brother. Ratan Sen, seeking to establish bonds of friendship with the brother of its queen, and in this way to extend the possibilities of his territory, convinces the queen of an encounter between both.

Finally, she accedes to the encounter, but only if this occurs through a mirror, without physical contact of any type. Seeing the queen in the mirror, the sultan's desire increases to get the queen and his commitment is now stronger than ever. On the way to the fort, the Sultan's escort had studied in detail the fort's defenses and weaknesses. Accompanied back to his camp by his escort, the sultan decides to kidnap King Ratan Sen, ordering the queen to surrender to him and be at his harem, or the king would be killed.

Ratan Sen's soldiers sent a message to the Sultan, saying that they would fulfill their wishes and that the queen would be brought before him the next day. However, what appeared in their camp the following day was a group of 150 willing royal soldiers attacking it. The king managed to escape and return to the fort of Chittorgarh, and as a result the sultan ordered the fort to be besieged.

The siege was so long, due to the hard defense, that when the dry season arrived, it went through a severe drought, which caused hardly any food to be left. The king then decided to open the defense and fight. Upon hearing this decision, the queen ordered a large pyre to be built at the foot of the Victory Tower and carried out Jawhar, an act of great courage consisting in throwing herself into the fire.

Thus did all the women of the fort, so that the sultan would find himself without trophy of war. The soldiers, having nothing more to fight for, threw themselves with great violence to defend their king, although they finally perished.

Rani Padmini's pavilion, on the lake of Fort Chittorgarh, commemorates the valour of its queen and the sad events in the history of Rajasthan. Rani Padmini's palace is a three-storey building, built roughly in the 15th century, although it was rebuilt deeply in the 19th century. This construction belongs to the type of Hindu palace called Jalmahal, palaces surrounded by water.

It is a very compact building with characteristics of the Indian architecture of the XV century mixed with the reconstructions of the XIX century, fundamentally of feminine character. There are, within the Indian style, some variations or decorative elements that are applied to buildings or female stays, in this case these are evident in the execution of some galleries, trim and cornices. The bronze gates of the palace were stolen and taken by Akbar to the royal palace of Agra.

Since then the lemurs have been the sole rulers of these times, since on two occasions the fort was repopulated and other times a similar story was repeated with the same end. No one else wanted to inhabit it.

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