Wednesday, August 03, 2005

lanD oF fortS

Cloaked in the mists of time and legend, in a distant land of deserts and fortresses, there lived a king called Rana Ratan Singh, who once ruled the kingdom of Mewar. Nestled by the dazzling dunes of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, Mewar was one of the mighty empires of the Rajputs. Rana’s consort Rani Padmini was famous for her legendary beauty. So much so that it brought the great Delhi Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji himself to Mewar. But Rana didn’t allow Khilji to see his wife. And Khilji decided to conquer Mewar for the queen. But he couldn’t defeat the fort which was situated on a massive hill at Chittaur and protected by seven gateways. Khilji didn’t withdraw either and besieged the fort for about six months.

An outside view of Chittaur fort.

When the supply of the fort ended, Rana was forced to go for a truce with Khilji. Khilji demanded to see the Rani to stop a war. Finally Rana agreed and Khilji was invited, fully unarmed, to the fort. The Rani was shown to Khilji through the reflection in a mirror as she stood on a small palace constructed at the centre of a small lake. Yes! At last Khilji saw the Rani as a reflection in the lake, that also, through a mirror! Besotted by her beauty, Khilji detained Rana down the fort on their way back, and demanded Rani Padmini for the Rana. The brave Rani sent 700 palanquins with Rajputs hidden inside, to the base camp of Khilji with Rana's brother kept in her place, to liberate Rana. In the subsequent battle all the Rajputs were killed. To avoid molestation and the ignominy of defeat, Rani with her servants entered into a holy pyre called Jauhar!!

The palace where Rani Padmini stood & her reflection on the lake was shown to Khilji through a mirror.

This happened long back in AD 1303. Man! How beautiful would have been that Rani then? :-) And Damn it! Why wasn’t photography invented that time, so that we would have been able see how she looked like. Well, jokes apart we a gang of 8 were thrilled for reasons obvious to see this kingdom and the fort and to explore the stories and folk lore sleeping peacefully in that soil. According to history books this story is some what different, but it is the one that has been passed on for generations in Rajasthan and is pleasant to hear. :-)

Udaipur Observatory located at the center of a lake

We set start on a cold December night, after our end-term exams, to celebrate the new year with glory in the land of forts. It was also for a break-away from the dry-state of Gujarat to enjoy our lives with the sacred fire-water. ;-) (Liquor of any kind is banned in Gujarat by law)

Ajmer Lake

The places we visited were Udaipur – Palace of Rana Uday Singh, Chittaurgarh – Fort of Rana Ratan Singh, Ajmer – Famous for Ajmer Dargah where Pakistan President Musharaf paid a visit when he came to India and Pushkar – The only Brahma temple in this world.


KG said...

who knows...if you saw the photo of rani you might exclaim...
"how desparate was Khilji" ;-)

Anamika said...

I don't know why, but that story really touched me... :)

kickassso said...

dont believe what history texbooks say...crusty old profs write stuff they would like us to believe.. its subjective anyway, but folk tales are as reliable as the grapevine:p

Praveen said...

Hey, Great snaps and you have given a pretty good background to the "land of fort"

കലേഷ്‌ കുമാര്‍ said...

ജിത്തു, പടം കാണാൻ വയ്യാ...

Geo said...

hijacking ones own flight? ;_)
I am sure u know what I meant ;_))

silverine said...

Just revised my history lessons with this post! :)

Jithu said...

> kg
hmmm... the rani was bit tanned, as said by them, like draupadi in mahabharata.. but this has got nothing to do with beauty... exclamation part.. well.. possible ;-))

> anamika
hey, good to know that maam :-) yes its touching.. now a bit of a history. The Jauhar was practiced by the females in that fort a total of three times.. first by rani padmini as mentioned (1303), second time by rani karnavati during the attack of sultan bahadur shah of gujarat (1535) and third time during the attack of Akbar (1568)...

> kickasso
dey, this reminds me of a dialogue in the film braveheart. "Historians from England will say that I'm a liar. But history is written by those who had hung heroes!"

> praveen
thnx man.. if u r interested, a brief description abt the same can be found here..

> kalesh
oops! wt happened? can u try clicking the small squares which come in the place of the picture and see?

> geo
hmmm... ;-))

> silverine
well, then i think my post is a success! :-))

manu said...

i've heard that story before, but nice narration, jithu. and the pictures are simply great. someday i would to visit mevar. thanks jithu, for the inspiration.

Invincible said...

The fort, the lake, the palace .. all look enticing !
making a note :)

And nice post, running thru the history as you see the places makes one to co-relate and appreciate it even more !!

amit said...

well thts wht the rajputs are always known fr - defending their honour even if it meant embracing death.... i m proud to belong to such a place

neetie said...

hey pics are so lovely :)

Jithu said...

> manu
yup! its simply a great story.. u feel the passion when u r standing on that fort..

> invincible
thnx man! its sure a place worth to visit

> amit
oh u r from that place?? thts great man!!

> neetie
than yaar :-)

>|' ; '| said...

poor rani... in the end, the rana, the rani and the sultan ended up as losers. history is funny and brutal at the same time.

sanaja said...

nice its down on the places to visit:)

MS said...

How beautiful she must have looked,but the other side of the coin shows how ppl can kill just on a whim,..

Jithu said...

> poison
true :-( but rani is the wife of rana.. so literally everyone would have ended up in lose but actually a family (husband and wife) lost their lives...

> sanaja
its a gr8 place. u feel the mightiness while standing on the fort.

> ms
hmmm... in fact there are many such stories in the pages of history in which kings went after beauty :-(

Mirage said...

Wow, that was a nice story. I love listening to such legends. Its stories like these that remind us of the poise and beauty of our ancestors.

Grafxgurl said...

nice!!! i wanna hear summore stories!!...sniff am from Jodhpur.. wonder if there are any good stories from there!!

കലേഷ്‌ കുമാര്‍ said...

ജിത്തു, പടങ്ങൾ കാണാൻ വയ്യ. വേറെ എവിടേലും അപ്‌ലോഡ്‌ ചെയ്തിട്ട്‌ ആ ലിങ്ക്‌ ഒന്ന് പോസ്റ്റ്‌ ചെയ്യ്‌

Rabbi's Arbit Ramblings said...

History will only record the beauty of queens and the valour or kings. What about the lesser mortals slain by the hordes?

Jithu said...

> mirage
yup! its real fun to hear such stories..

> grafxgurl
wt a surprise, jodhpur was the capital of marwar, another kingdom in rajastan.

> kalesh
sure yaar, i will upload the fotos to some place and give u the link..

> rabbi's arbit ramblings
sadly, but true.. they were always trained to die for the country.. probably not even given a chance to think abt why they are dieing for :-( sometimes to protect their motherland but at times, to quench the war-thirst of kings :-(

Jiby said...

hi jithu,
thanks for visiting my blog. nice post...if if remember rite in history i learnt that the rajput warriors in the palanquins were able to liberate the rana...maybe the textbooks got influenced by legends rather than facts!

Jithu said...

> jiby
yup! u r right. its also said that, the rana was released and in between the rani killed herself. the rajputs smeared the ash on their faces and went for a war! but donno why the rani killed herself before the release of rana! was she thinking that the rana would die in the first battles itself!

niki yokota said...

beautiful!!! looks like heaven! the reflection on the lake thru mirror wud have been irritating tho(^o^);; thank u veery!!!

Jithu said...

> niki yokota
hey niki thank you very much.. :-)

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