Of all the former Rajput capitals, CHITTAURGARH (or Chittor), 115km northeast of Udaipur, was the strongest bastion of Hindu resistance against the Muslim invaders. No less than three mass suicides (johars) were committed over the centuries by the female inhabitants of its fort, and an air of desolation still hangs over the honey-coloured old citadel. As a symbol of Rajput chivalry and militarism only Jodhpur’s Meherangarh Fort compares.
Some visitors squeeze a tour of Chittaurgarh into a day-trip, or en route between Bundi and Udaipur, but it’s well worth stopping overnight to give yourself time to explore the fort properly.
The origins of Chittor Fort are obscure, but probably date back to the seventh century. It was seized by Bappa Rawal, founder of the Mewar dynasty, in 734, and remained the Mewar capital for the next 834 years, bar a couple of brief interruptions. Despite its commanding position and formidable appearance, however, Chittor was far from invincible, and was sacked three times over the centuries, by Ala-ud-Din-Khalji (1303), Sultan Bahadur Shah (1535) and Akbar (1568). It was this last attack which convinced the then ruler of Mewar, Udai Singh, to decamp to a more remote and easily defensible site at Udaipur. Chittaurgarh was eventually ceded back to the Rajputs in 1616 on condition that it not be refortified, but the royal family of Mewar, by now firmly ensconced in Udaipur, never resettled here, and the entire fort, which once boasted a population of many thousands, now houses just a few hundred people.