The belt of hilly land east of Udaipur is the most fertile in Rajasthan, watered by several perennial rivers and guarded by a sequence of imposing forts perched atop the craggy ridges that crisscross the region.
The first major settlement you’ll come across is the historic town of CHITTAURGARH (or Chittor), 115km northeast of Udaipur. Of all the former Rajput capitals, Chittaurgarh – former capital of the kingdom or Merwar before Udaipur – was the strongest bastion of Hindu resistance against the Muslim invaders and it is home to one of Rajasthan’s most spectacular and historic forts, rising majestically above a verdant tapestry of plains. No less than three mass suicides (johars) were committed over the centuries by the female inhabitants of this honey-coloured fort. 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 plenty of time to explore the fort properly.Read More
The Vijay Stambh and beyond
The Vijay Stambh and beyond
The main road within the fort continues south to its focal point, Vijay Stambh, the soaring “tower of victory” erected by Rana Kumbha to commemorate his 1440 victory over the Muslim sultan Mehmud Khilji of Malwa. This magnificent sand-coloured tower, whose nine storeys rise 36m, took a decade to build; its walls are lavishly carved with mythological scenes and images from all Indian religions, including Arabic inscriptions in praise of Allah. You can climb the dark narrow stairs to the very summit for free by showing your fort entry ticket.
The area around the Vijay Stambh is littered with an impressive number of further remains, including a pair of monumental gateways and a number of florid temples, including the superbly decorated Samiddhesvara Temple, whose shrine houses an image of the trimurti, a composite, three-headed image of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. A path leads from here down to the Gaumukh Kund, a large reservoir fed by an underground stream that trickles through carved mouths (mukh) of cows (gau) and commands superb views across the plains.
Buildings further south include the Kalika Mata Temple, and Padmini’s Palace, its rather plain buildings enclosing a series of attractive little walled gardens leading to a tower overlooking the small lake. The road continues south to the point once used for hurling traitors to their deaths, then returns north along the eastern ridge to Suraj Pol gate, with spectacular vistas across a patchwork of farmland. Several temples line the route, but the most impressive monument is Kirti Stambh. The inspiration for the tower of victory, this smaller “tower of fame” was built by Digambaras as a monument to the first tirthankara Adinath, whose unclad image appears throughout its six storeys.