I frankly never understood the controversy around Padmavat when I first heard about it. But when I went to Chittodgadh and interacted with people there did I realize how real Padmavati and her legacy is for the locals. At times as film-makers or media mavens, people forget to consider the local sentiments and how important it is for the normal public. Today after experiencing Chittodgadh and Rani Padmavati palace, I understand the anger that fueled the controversy. I don’t necessarily agree with the way it was put forth, but I definitely understand that the artistic liberties should not be at the expense of local sentiments. It should certainly not take these local legends casually.

A day in Chittorgarh

On our Rajasthan tour, one day was dedicated to Chittodgarh and Padmini Palace. As we reached Chittodgarh, the first thing that caught my attention was the 7 doors through which we had to go to reach the palace. Once there my spirits were a bit low as the palace was actually in ruins. It reminded me of the forts in Maharashtra and thought if I would actually understand it culturally and historically if I didn’t have a guide.

Thankfully, I found one and when he started talking I could relive the grandeur of the place through my mind eyes. With extreme pride in his voice, he talked about the beauty of Chittodgarh in the by-gone era. He spoke about the place where queens prayed to the sun god and pointing to a half-ruined tower he spoke about the huge personal quarters of the king.

Chittorgarh palace in ruins

Legend of Chittorgarh

According to the guide, King Udai Singh the heir apparent for the Chittorgarh fort was saved by the bravery of his nanny Panna Dai. After the death of his father Rana Sangha, the general and Udai Singh’s uncle planned to kill Udai Singh. When the nanny got to know about this, she dressed her own son as Udai Singh and left him in the cradle taking Udai Singh to safety.

The pride and respect for Panna Dai can only be understood by those who hear this story from the locals. For them, she was the epitome to loyalty and dedication to service.

Our next stop was Rani Padmini Palace

During the release of the movie Padmavat, I even heard stories about how the whole story was a figment of imagination by the poet, but I find it hard to believe. We saw an elaborate palace complete with the lake where Rani Padmavati is supposed to have stood and the King Allahudin Khilji seeing her from a mirror.

Again the local guide had so much conviction about the story that for him she was real. Rani Padmavati is revered here and is the personification of the bravery of Rajput women. She is someone who stood in the face of stiff assault and ensured that the Rajput pride stayed intact.

vijay stambh in Chittorgarh

Last Stop Vijay Stambh

Vijaystambh is a beautiful tower made of sandstone which has intricate carvings all over it. It was supposedly built by Raja Kumbha. It has 9 floors and several balconies at the top. While I couldn’t go up as the entry was closed its intricate carvings and beautiful design is breathtaking. As I looked at the tower from the outside and went around it, I came across a temple just a few meters away. Upon asking, I was told it is the Samadeshwar Temple dedicated to Shiva. The temple too is beautifully designed, but more than the temple a large vacant land that lay in between the Vijay Stambh and the temple attracted me. There was tiny signage that read ‘Johaur Area’

Just looking at the spot I shuddered to think of the many women who jumped to their deaths in the burning pyre. How important it must have been to die that living was not an option. Was it an escape from the rape and humiliation at the hands of the enemy or the belief of ‘honor above all’ Whatever the reason, it only sheds light on the post-war plight of the women; that they preferred to die than suffer at the hands of the enemy.

Shiv temple and jauhar site at Chittorgarh

After hearing to these stories, I could only bow my head in humbleness. I don’t know or care if the story of Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji was real. But the Jauhar was real, the women who died and the brave men who fought against consistent invasions was true and these monuments are pieces of those realities from history. They continue to fuel future generations with pride and honor and this should be respected.

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

Marcus Garvey

14 Replies to “Chittorgarh – Revelling in tales of bravery and honor”

  1. I remember visiting Chittorgarh as a kid and the memories of that visit are still fresh. It’s not possible to forget a place like Victory Tower. My memories got refreshed looking at the pictures.

  2. I’ve never been to Chittorgarh but reading your post with lovely pictures I could imagine each and every part of the palace and relate to the story of Padmavat. And I completely agree with you Neha, local sentiments should be given respect and priority. Lovely post!

  3. Yes, it’s true that film makers concentrate on earning part only. The sentimental value is gone zero. This place has its own historical value and must be treated as a heritage. Not entertainment.

  4. Chittorgarh is epitome of Rajput pride and spirit. So glad that you had a chance to see this historic place of Rajasthan which is known for its valour and bravery! I have been to this place last year for work, but never had the chance to explore the fort and palaces. Hopefully next time.

  5. Rajasthan is a place yet to be explored by me. Your beautiful post have raised my interest to a next level. As a kid we have read so much about the grace and beauty of Rani Padmini (that was the name we had read about)

  6. The problem is filmmakers concentrate more on selling their content. They really do not understand the sentiments for them controversy rakes in more money and therefore wrong facts is all that they are concerned about.

  7. Must’ve been quite an experience to visit Chittorgarh! There are so many stories about Padmavati being fictional but one can never know. Our history is quite twisted in the books. May be the one that comes down from generations holds true?

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