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CHITTORGARH FORT

Chittorgarh Fort is the largest fort in India and the grandest in the state of Rajasthan. It is a World Heritage Site. The fort, plainly known as Chittor, was the capital of Mewar and is today situated several kilometres south of Bhilwara. It was initially ruled by Guhilot and later by Sisodias, the Suryavanshi clans of Chattari Rajputs, from the 7th century, until it was finally abandoned in 1568 after the siege by Emperor Akbar in 1567. It sprawls majestically over a hill 180 m (590.6 ft) in height spread over an area of 280 ha (691.9 acres) above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. The fort precinct with an evocative history is studded with a series of historical palaces, gates, temples and two prominent commemoration towers. These monumental ruins have inspired the imagination of tourists and writers for centuries.

The fort was sacked three times between the 15th and 16th centuries; in 1303 Allauddin Khilji defeated Rana Ratan Singh, in 1535 Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat defeated Bikramjeet Singh and in 1567 Emperor Akbar defeated Maharana Udai Singh II who left the fort and founded Udaipur. Each time the men fought bravely rushing out of the fort walls charging the enemy but lost every time. Following these defeats, Jauhar was committed thrice by more than 13,000 ladies and children of the Rajput heroes who laid their lives in battles at Chittorgarh Fort, first led by Rani Padmini wife of Rana Rattan Singh who was killed in the battle in 1303, and later by Rani Karnavati in 1537 AD.

Thus, the fort represents the quintessence of tribute to the nationalism, courage, medieval chivalry and sacrifice exhibited by the Mewar rulers of Sisodia and their kinsmen and women and children, between the 7th and 16th centuries. The rulers, their soldiers, the women folk of royalty and the commoners considered death as a better option than dishonor in the face of surrender to the foreign invading armies.

Chittorgarh, located in the southern part of the state of Rajasthan, 233 km (144.8 mi) from Ajmer, midway between Delhi and Mumbai on the National Highway 8 (India) in the road network of Golden Quadrilateral. Chittorgarh is situated where National Highways No. 76 & 79 intersect.

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The fort rises abruptly above the surrounding plains and is spread over an area of 2.8 km2 (1.1 sq mi). The highest elevation at the fort is 1,075 m (3,526.9 ft). It is situated on the left bank of the Berach river (a tributary of the Banas River) and is linked to the new town of Chittorgarh (known as the ‘Lower Town’) developed in the plains after 1568 AD when the fort was deserted in light of introduction of artillery in the 16th century, and therefore the capital was shifted to more secure Udaipur, located on the eastern flank of Aravalli hill range. Mughal Emperor Akbar attacked and sacked this fort which was but one of the 84 forts of Mewar, but the capital was shifted to Aravalli hills where heavy artillery & cavalry were not effective. A winding hill road of more than 1 km (0.6 mi) length from the new town leads to the west end main gate, called Ram Pol, of the fort. Within the fort, a circular road provides access to all the gates and monuments located within the fort walls.

The fort that once boasted of 84 water bodies has only 22 of them now. These water bodies are fed by natural catchment and rainfall, and have a combined storage of 4 billion litres that could meet the water needs of an army of 50,000. The supply could last for four years. These water bodies are in the form of ponds, wells and step wells.

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Even though the Chittorgarh Fort of Rajasthan in India is ruin but it is an overwhelming reminder of past history and its walls resonate with unbelievable legend of extra ordinary men and women and their equally astounding deeds. The Chittorgarh Fort has many magnificent monuments.

Chittorgarh is connected by both bus and rail. The bus stand and the railway are located in the new township. Chittorgarh Fort is a massive structure with a 1 kilometre zigzag accent to it. The road leads through seven gates to the main gate Rampol (meaning Gate of Ram). On the climb between the second and third gate you see two Chattris cenotaphs built to honour Jaimull and Kulla heroes of 1568 siege by Emperor Akbar. The main gate of the fort itself is Surajpol (meaning Sun Gate). Within the fort a circular runs around the ruins of the fort.

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