Chittorgarh is a two-hour drive from Udaipur and is famous for the Jauhar that was committed here by Padmavati when it was attacked by Alauddin Khalji. Yes, we have all heard about it at the beginning of the year. The famous movie Padmaavat came under controversy for not showing the valour of the famous queen in the right light. I went to see the dusty part of rural Rajasthan. I stayed in a local hotel costing me only Rs 3000 but I had only one night there as I had already booked a cab to take me to the famous fort palace in the morning. I was eager to see the palace where the famous queen once loved and then died in a ball of fire. The drive up to the fort is long, dusty and full of traffic jams. It was all narrow town streets littered with auto rickshaws, bicycles and motorcycles. We decided to see the palace on a Sunday and so, it was even more crowded as families and students trekked up to the Chittorgarh palace to enjoy a stroll or a picnic.
The green gardens inside the fort area was where the Jauhar fire was ignited. Now, it was lush green in colour as kids played on its lawns. The inside of the fort area was a mix of old ruins and broken walls and horrors made out of red and cream sandstones. I took a local guide to add to the excitement. He was my anchor and cameraman both and did a lot of the live commentary that I captured there on my lens. Kids from the local school had gathered in the fort trying to unravel its history and legend. The sati prat also has its origins from here as widowed brides used to be burnt on a pyre with their husbands. The truth was that most of them were drugged or drunk when they were brainwashed into burning themselves on the pyre with their husbands’ bodies. Rajput women were not allowed to remarry then and the sati prat was very famous here till it was banned by Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
I photographed the many passages and underground stairways where the queens would go into the pond to bathe. There was a pond in the fort area for the commoners and other subjects to bathe and cool off in the hot summer afternoons. Stalls serving street food and drinks littered the streets that lead to the palace. All in all, the fort is semi-intact. Its walls are pale and damaged due to several attacks and erosion. But the splendour and grandeur still exists here but only in the shadows. You can see the entire city of Chittoor from several vantage points from the edges of the fort.
Then it was off to the victory fort to see some real langurs or black monkeys with huge tails. Yes, you can spot many of these monkeys in the fort area. They also can be seen near the famous Vishnu Temple that I visited. Near the temple is a huge pond full of green water. People have stopped bathing in its waters some time back. My guide giving his running commentary was the highlight of my video. At times, I thought his ramblings made no sense. I think he even got his dates and names jumbled up but what the hell, this was his only way to make a living. I was stopped from using my camera stand by the local guards as they said professional photography was forbidden inside the fort. I, like a shameless tourist, went on filming until they had to throw us out.
While returning back to Udaipur, I stopped over at the local Krishna Temple near the city and even meandered through the local markets to enjoy some lassi. The colours in the marketplace and the exuberance of the local women made my day. From bangles to swords, there was something for everyone to buy and shop for, not to mention the local samosa and kachori that was on display. I, for one, had enjoyed the last 5 days in Rajasthan and felt no less than a Maharaja himself.