There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.Jane Austen
Love – a single word with many meanings. Yet, we always associate Love with romantic relationships only. In doing so, we exclude a diverse and complex range of emotions connected with it – sexual attraction, maternal attachment, affinal bonds , friendship, monogamous relationships and selfless devotion etc.
The elements of romanticism, misfortune, courage and sacrifice makes Chittorgarh a must visit destination in Rajasthan. When I visited Chittorgarh last December, I was overwhelmed by the stories of love echoing through the walls of history. This ‘Land of the braves’ have fascinated history enthusiasts and art lovers from all over the globe.
On the banks of Gambhiri and Berach river lies the majestic town of Chittor. At the acme of its influence, Chittorgarh was considered to be the most contested seat of power in India. From Allauddin Khilji to Akbar everybody wanted Chittor to prove their prowess. Raja Ratan Sen to Maharana Pratap, each king held their grounds and never gave in to the Mughals.
Chittor has many stories associated with its past, but the story I choose to say here is of love.
Mira Bai’s Love for Lord Krishna
At an innocent age of 4, Mirabai in her childish dreams started considering Lord Krishna as her lifelong companion. Watching a marriage procession from her palace window, She once asked her mother about who will be her groom? He mother feeding the child’s curiosity pointed towards the idol of Krishna. Ever since then Mirabai grew up devoting her life singing praises of Krishna.
She married Rana Sagha’s son Rana Kumbha. The union between the two, brought a lot of anguish to Mirabai. The thought of being with another person, when her soul was filled with love was Krishna, seemed horrifying to her. But as a docile and conscientious daughter she agreed to marry Rana Kumbha.
Love Conquers All
Who can suppress true love? Marital boundaries did not stop Mirabai from showing her love for her Giridhar Gopal. The wrath of society fell upon her for not fulfilling her duties of being a married woman. Rumours of her having a secret lover spread like wildfire affected her relations with the Rana Kumbha but she was not bothered with these allegations.
The tipping point came when Akbar visited Chittorgarh in disguise to hear Mirabai’s devotional songs for Krishna. He was mesmerised by her melodious voice and gifted her a piece of jewellery in appreciation. When Rana Kumbha heard of this, he ordered Mirabai to go drown herself which she dutifully obeyed. Just before she jumped into the river, Krishna appeared in front of her and requested her to go to Vrindavan. Before returning to Chittorgarh on Rana Kumbha’s request she spend her time at Vrindavan singing bhajans for Krishna. Even her husband at last understood her immortal love for Lord Krishna.
Such was her devotion for Krishna that Mirabai fought against the whole world, left her husband, her home and devoted her entire life to her Giridhar Gopal.
Manmohan kanha vinati karoon din rain
Rah take mere nain
Ab to daras dedo kunj bihari
Manva hai bechain
Neh ki dori tum sang jori
Humse to nahi jaavegi todi
Hey murali dhar krishna murari
Tanik na aave chain
Raah take mere nain ….
– Bhajan by Mirabai
Panna Dhai’s love for Udai Singh
Panna Dhai was the nurse of prince Udai Singh. Her sacrifice is written in bold letters in the pages of Chittor’s history. She sacrificed her own son to save the young prince from the clutches of Rana Banbir. She escaped from the palace and went to Kumbhalgarh with the prince where she got asylum.
Raja Ratan Sen’s Love for Padmavati
Though there is no evidence in any written text about the existence of Rani Padmavati yet her love story has caught the imagination of many. The only mention of her finds it way through history was in a poem written by the Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi.
The rumours of Padmavati’s beauty was far and wide. Ratan Sen upon hearing about Padmavati’s exquisite beauty couldn’t stop himself from reaching the borders of Simhal. There are many versions of how Ratan Sen won Padmavati’s heart – the most accepted version states that Ratan Sen won a dual against another king in a Swayamvara. Another version narrates the role of a talking parrot ‘Hiraman’ who spreads the word of Padmavati’s magnetism in Chittor that instils in the king’s heart a desire to possess her.
As in any love story, there were two villains in this historical narrative- Nagmati and Alauddin Khilji. Nagmati, the first wife of Raja Ratan Sen was jealous beyond words when Padmavati came to Chittor. A nagging spouse desperate for attention – Nagmati remained on the fringes as Ratan Sen’s affection got divided between his wives.
Alauddin Khilji hears about the enchanting beauty of Padmavati from Raghav Chetak, a sorcerer who had been banished from the court of Ratan Sen. Raghav Chetak was practising black magic which was not allowed in Chittor, upon hearing this Ratan Sen asked him to leave the state at once. He found exile in Khilji`s court and began plotting his vengeance against Ratan Sen. Khilji wanted Rani Padmavati to be part of his harem, he believed such exquisiteness belonged to him and no one else. With this thought in mind, he attached Chittor, Ratan Sen died protecting his motherland and Padmavati gave away her life trying to protect her dignity and committed Jauhar.
How to reach?
By Road: One can take a local bus from Jaipur, Bundi, Ajmer, Udaipur [90 kms], Kota and Jodhpur. Alternatively, hiring a private cab is also a good option if you are planning a day visit.
By Train: Chittorgarh is well connected by rail with direct trains from Delhi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Kota and Bundi.
By Flight: The nearest airport is Maharana Pratap Airport in Udaipur.
What is the best time to visit Chittorgarh?
The best season for Chittorgarh is during monsoons and winters. Avoid going there from March to July.
Where to stay in Chittorgarh?
My suggestion would be to avoid staying in Chittorgarh, instead stay in Udaipur or Bundi and do a day trip. I stayed at Castle Narela Lake Resort which was around 15 kms away from the city centre.
Some good options for accommodation are : Padmini Haveli, Just a Lake Nahargarh and Bassi Fort Palace.
Should I hire a guide?
There is no need for a guide, you can collect ‘Chittorgarh Guide Book’ from the ticket counter for free. It is enough for basic information. For more information you can read it online. I would suggest you see the ‘Light and Sound Show’ in the evening to know the general history of this fortress town.
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