Chittaurgarh – the erstwhile capital, the house of legends & the birth place of warriors!

“Rani me Rani Padmini, baaki sab Ghadaiya
Gadh me Gadh Chittaurgarh, Baki sab Gadhaiya”

said the guide whose generations have lived inside the fort for centuries now.

It’s the story of a place where they say, “Blood sells cheaper than water” because they are Mewaris who would battle and declare war but will never bow their heads down.

It’s the story of the land where soil smells of valor & grows brave souls season after season, every season.

It’s the story of the fort whose walls housed grit, resolve & courage & wore honor & pride as crown.

It’s the story of Chittaurgarh –  the homeland of Queen Padmini, Bappa Rawal, King Kumbha, Rana Sangha, Maharana Pratap & Meerabai – characters that embodied every possible virtue in all times of History & inspired all generations for centuries to come.

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In the wake of recent turmoil over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati, many have come to know (remember) the legend of the gorgeous Rani Padmini & thus about Chittaur – the land long forgotten, the pride of Mewar & the jewel of Rajasthan.

In a four- part series, I bring to you the stories of Chittaur that were written with betrayal, fire & blood but preserved with love, loyalty & lyrics. 

दोहराता हूं सुनो रक्त से लिखी हुई कुर्बानी,
जिसके कारण मिट्टी भी चन्दन है राजस्थानी

रावल रत्न सिंह को छल से कैद किया खिलजी ने
काल गयी मित्रों से मिलकर दगा किया खिलजी ने

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You would find numerous articles written on Queen Padmavati (Padmini) now, but if you go back to scour history; you would find her mention in Padmavat – a poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi singing the praise of Padmini’s beauty, Allaudin Khilji’s greed & lust & Raja Ratan Singh’s valor & culture in 1540.

Rewind to the 12th century & you meet Padmini – the princess of Singhal Kingdom (now Sri Lanka). It’s being said that Rajput king Raja Ratan Singh heard of Padmini’s beauty from a talking parrot & married her. Padmini was Ratan Singh’s second wife, younger to Nagmati who never liked Padmini & claimed what was originally Nagmati’s.

Locals who live inside Chittaur fort still vouch for Padmini’s beauty & often say, “When she ate Paan, you could see her neck going red.”.

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While giving a tour of Chittaur fort, they would show you the temple where Padmini worshipped God every morning. Just next to the temple exists the place where the first ever Jauhar in the history of time was committed when Rani Padmini along with 16000 ladies preferred to perish in raging flames than facing defeat and insult at the hands of a foreign invader.

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Padmini’s Palace inside Chittaur fort

The Jauhar kund (the 50,000 ft. deep dig where Jauhar happened) had been filled now masking the events of the night when 16,000 souls of young & old ladies and kids jumped in the well of fire chanting, “Har, Har Mahadev”. The strong & impenetrable walls of Chittaur must have shivered and shattered for a dark night had come over the Golden fort and engulfed everything within. The next morning, Gora and Badal avenged their king and queen and made a show out of the battlefield. Their swords sliced & chopped Khilji’s giant army & damaged the invader’s morale. They might not have won but they sure fought like winners & left the world a little better.

एक एक कर मिटे सभी मेवाड़ी वीर #सिपाही 
रत्न सिंह पर लेकिन #रंचक आंच न आने पायी

गोरा बादल के #शव पर #भारत #माता रोई थी 
उसने अपनी दो #ज्वलंत प्यारी #मणियां खोई थी

In the Chittaur of today, they sell Padmini’s Pehnava – a handloom saree made of rose petals’ fibres & fruits. The sarees smell of rose long after you have purchased them & remind you of the fond display of character & valour in Chittaur for centuries.

People, customs and dynasties perished but storied lived on. And stories thrive on characters, virtues and values. Rani Padmini was all & more. She was a legend. And legends are always contested. 

धन्य #धरा #मेवाड़ धन्य गोरा बादल #बलिदानी 
जिनके #बल से रहा पद्मिनी का #सतीत्व #अभिमानी

जिसके कारण मिट्टी भी चन्दन है राजस्थानी
दोहराता हूं सुनो रक्त से लिखी हुई कुर्बानी.

Next in series: Who was Bappa Rawal and Raja Kumbha – the names that sit at the tip of every local’s toungue? Stay tuned to read the story.

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Declaration: this article does not corroborate any of the claims in the wake of recent events following the scheduled (now postponed) release of movie Padmavati.

 

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