"Chittaurgarh - Love, War and Jauhar" Top 5 Page for this destination Chittaurgarh by tremendopunto

Chittaurgarh Travel Guide: 38 reviews and 93 photos

Chittaurgarh is a huge fort on the top of a mountain. It is full of ruins, history and dramatic legends. Forget Romeo and Julia or Helen of Troy, no, PADMINI is the story of the next b(h)ollywood blockbuster. The beauty of a woman was the reason for a war which ended with the suicide (jauhar) of 13.000 women......

Take a look at my travel video of Chittaurgarh Part I
Part II

A nice description of The Legend of PADMINI can be found under http://www.mewarindia.com/ency/p.html
"Padmini was a young princess from Sinhal Dripa (Lanka, Ceylon or modern Sri Lanka), the daughter of King Gandharvasen and Queen Champavati. (Another account gives the royal father's name as Hamir Sank who was, allegedly, a Chauhan, also of Ceylon.) Accompanied by her uncle Gora, his wife, and Gora's nephew, Badal, Padmini came to India to marry Ratan Singh. A dark-skinned maiden, her incredible beauty was soon acclaimed throughout India. When Sultan ALA-UD-DIN KHILJI of the Khilji dynasty of North India heard about Padmini, he decided to abduct her for his harem.

At the time, the massive Islamic takeover of Hindu India was under way. Fiercely national Hindu clans were formidable in their struggle to retain their independence against the invading Muslims. They were so dedicated they would sacrifice everything, even their lives, to protect their homeland. The men prized honour above safety; the women held chastity dearer than life. And it was this combination of virtues that led to the Padmini tragedy (and, as is often the case with most myths or legends, they are frequently so improbable they can only work if the readers suspend their disbelief).

Ala-ud-Din Khilji had long been anxious to add Mewar, and its capital Chittorgarh, to his empire. Following his rewarding siege of Daulatabad, the Sultan considered Padmini a good enough reason to attack Chittor. Early in 1302, he began his attack. The Rajputs, however, held the fort and after eight months of deadlock Ala-ud-Din offered to lift the siege on the condition that he be allowed to have a glimpse of Padmini. Amazingly, as it makes Ratan Singh, his lieutenants and counsellors appear rather gullible, the Rawal agreed. Khilji was allowed to ride up the long winding roadway to the huge main gates with his men, but entered the fort alone, and was taken to Padmini's Palace. He, too, should have known better: Rajputs, as did Muslims, had a strict rule about purdah in that no outside males were permitted to gaze directly upon their womenfolk. So, Khilji had to be satisfied with seeing a reflection of Padmini in a mirror in the queen's summer palace: she appeared on the steps of a pavilion in the middle of a lotus pool just across from the palace. It is said that the mirror was fixed with such efficiency that a person standing on the pavilion's steps could be seen in the mirror, but if the viewer tried to see by turning towards the window he could not see the steps, let alone the desired object. That done, the Rawal, with customary Rajput chivalry, accompanied his enemy back to the main gates with Ala-ud-Din offering many complimentary excuses for the trouble he had caused. The huge wooden portals were dragged open, and the Rawal was about to bid his adversary a (hopefully) final farewell when suddenly Khilji's soldiers waiting in ambush just outside captured Ratan Singh. (Some accounts say this abduction occurred at the foot of the entrance road.) As ransom for the king, Khilji demanded that Padmini be turned over to him, this time unconditionally.

Padmini, who was also very intelligent sent word to the Sultan that she agreed to his ransom, adding that she would be accompanied by seven hundred personal friends and maids. The following morning a processions of palanquins (ostensibly carrying the queen and her handmaidens) duly arrived at the Muslim camp below the fort. Each palanquin was borne by six slaves, who were really armed warriors in disguise. And each palanquin also carried an armed warrior. Gora (the uncle) was in Padmini's palanquin. Nearing Ala-ud-Din's tent, Gora (pretending to be Padmini) expressed a desire to have a final, private meeting with Ratan Singh. With Ala-ud-Din's approval, Padmini's palanquin was carried to Rawal Ratan Singh and all soldiers were withdrawn. As soon as Gora had released Ratan Singh, not enchanting ladies but the fully armed Rajput soldiers, several hundred according to some chronicles, burst from the palanquins. In the ensuing confusion of battle, Ratan Singh escaped and was escorted back to the safety of the fort, but Gora and about five hundred braves were killed. Ala-ud-Din is said to have returned to Delhi disappointed (and to boost the heavily depleted ranks of his army). But he was restless; he constantly thought of capturing Chittor and Padmini.

In January, 1303, he again marched south and stormed the citadel with renewed vengeance, the siege lasting another six months. The fort's food supplies finally ran out. Finally realising further resistance would be futile, Padmini led all of the fort's women and children-a thousand or so-to Kumbha's Palace. There, as the legend goes, they entered an underground chamber, the door was sealed behind them, and a large bonfire was lit. Bravely, they committed the ultimate sacrifice of jauhar, the grisly ritual of suicide by fire, rather than suffer disgrace at the hands of the enemy. The site of the ceremony is unlikely. With or without Padmini, it probably took place at the fort's Mahasati, the traditional royal cremation ground near Chittor's Tower of Victory. In the still-to-be-seen cavern under Kumbha's Palace, there would have been neither space nor air for such an enormous pyre. Possibly that entrance led to an underground tunnel (also said to exist) which, in turn, led to the Gaumukh Reservoir. (Or they simply walked from the palace in procession.) The ladies ritually cleansed themselves in the reservoir's holy waters, attended a ceremony in the neighbouring Sammidheshwar Temple, then (heavily drugged and chanting hymns) moved to the Mahasati area. In his ANNALS AND ANTIQUITIES OF RAJASTHAN, James TOD describes that jauhar (wherever it may have occurred):

The funeral pyre was lit within the great subterranean retreat in chambers impervious to the light of day, and the defenders of Chittor beheld in procession the queens, their own wives and daughters, to the number of several thousands. The fair Padmini closed the throng. They were conveyed to the cavern, and the opening closed upon them leaving them to find security from dishonour in the devouring element.

Their families gone, the men of the fort donned traditional saffron robes of death, threw open the fort's gates, and charged to their mass destruction. Finally victorious, the Sultan rode in to take Padmini only to discover the beautiful, resourceful queen had cheated him one last time.

If all else is fable, at least there was substance to the wholesale jauhar of the women and the men's suicide charge. This happened two more times when Chittor was besieged, in 1534 and, finally, in 1568. On each occasion, thousands of brave men and women gave their lives for Mewar. Fact or fiction, the tragedy of Padmini remains a most inventive, passionate and exciting tale."

http://www.mewarindia.com/ency/p.html

  • Intro Updated Jun 15, 2007
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