Saturday, June 23rd, 2012. Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.
Distance driven: 2,046 KM / 1279 miles.
Since we don’t have too far to go today we left Udaipur around 10am and drove to Chittaurgarh, the old capital of the Mewar territory, which followed Eklingli and preceded Udaipur.
Chittaurgarh was founded as early as 728 CE and was active as the capital from the 12th to 16th centuries until it was abandoned.
The main reason we wanted to come here was that Aaron had learned about the placed on Reddit and asked if we could visit since the fort looked really neat. Unlike the other Rajasthani forts we’ve visited, this one is mostly in ruins, although they are in much better shape than the Golconda Fort we had visited near Hyderabad.
The fortress is impressive – it is located at the top of a hill with a commanding view of the valley below where great battles took place with Alaudin Khalji in 1303 and the murghals under Akbar in 1567 when the fort was abandoned.
To get inside the fort we had to pass through about 5 different gates until we reached the inner part of the fort which runs for 13KM/8 miles around the hilltop. Inside are the ruins of forts, palaces, and temples and we had fun exploring them and enjoying the views.
In amongst the buildings birds, chipmunks, and monkeys roam.
One of our final stops was the Padmini Palace where Alaudin Kiliji is said to have seen the beautiful Padmini’s reflection off the water, reflected by a mirror. Swearing to have her as his own, this started a terrible war. She refused him and he laid siege to the fort. Thousands of women committed ritual suicide by immolation, or jauhar, and then 50,000 men were killed in the battle.
Jauhar occurred at least two other times, with tens of thousands of women throwing themselves on the a pyre to protect their honor. Note that this is different from sati, a ritual where dedicated wives and concubines would throw themselves on their husband’s funeral pyres.
Lunch was at a small local place where we finally got some food that we would consider spicy (but very nice). When I ordered, I asked for “spicy – Indian spicy, not American spicy”. I found out later than they had asked our driver Sury and he told them to make it “Rajashtani spicy”, which they did.
Tonight we are staying about 40KM/25 miles further at a place called Castle Bijaipur, which is indeed a castle – it dates from the 16th century. We were welcomed by the banging of drums and rattling of some percussive instrument and adorned with flower garlands.
On our way to our rooms we were met with some cold Indian cola (which is a little on the cough medicine side for my taste!). Thankfully it has been updated since the 16th century and has a lived in charm about it. Our rooms are nice and very atmospheric. We even have our own balcony.
They have a lovely pool and we had a swim around sunset which was wonderfully refreshing. Lots of birds could be seen flitting amongst the trees and shrubs.
Dinner at the hotel was disappointing. It had almost no flavor. Upon request they spiced it up a bit for us, but this will not be a memorable meal.