A Rickshaw Tour of Chittorgarh Fort, India
After walking everywhere in Bundi, we did our legs a favour and hired a rickshaw to explore Chittorgarh Fort. This giant complex full of temples, palaces, gates and towers, which sits on a hill overlooking the city, is the perfect place to break up the journey between Bundi and Udaipur. Here’s a quick look at what you can see and how to do it cheaply.
After arriving on the 9:15 train from Bundi we immediately organised a cheap (300 INR) rickshaw tour of Chittorgarh Fort. We then settled into our room, ate some lunch and then met back up with our driver.
Rana Kumbha Palace
The first stop on our rickshaw tour of Chittorgarh Fort was at the ruins of Rana Kumbha Palace. The broken facades and crumbling walls disguise what must have once been a lavish royal hangout. Chittorgarh was a magnet for invading armies until Emperor Akbar sacked it for the final time in 1568. The Mewar Rajputs cut their losses and moved to Udaipur, where they built the impressive City Palace.
While exploring Rana Kumbha keep a look out for the Victory Tower (Vijay Stambha) poking its head out above the trees.
Temples and Sacrifices
There are a few supremely detailed temples scattered around Chittorgarh Fort. Close to the palace, Meera / Kumbha Shyam temples are similar to those in Khajuraho, the one key difference is that instead of weird sexual positions the carvings depict more family friendly scenes.
The most interesting section of Chittorgarh Fort contains a few more temples, a massive, intricately carved tower, a group of cute monkeys, some of the best views of the fort’s walls and memories of large scale mass suicide.
In 1538, somewhere in this small complex of ruins, 13,000 women burned themselves alive rather than get taken by the army of Emperor Akbar. That wasn’t even the first time — it happened on least two other occasions during the previous couple of centuries.
Attack of the selfies (and the Victory Tower)
Local tourists wandering around Chittorgarh introduced us to a uniquely Indian experience. The “let’s take selfies (or normal photos) with tourists” phenomenon spreads fast and it can quickly get out of hand. We posed for heaps of photos and we didn’t really mind (it got a lot worse at the Taj Mahal), but it did eventually lead to an injury. I banged my toe on a step after being distracted by a selfie. It started bleeding so I wrapped it in a tissue and kept moving. Shoes are outlawed inside the Victory Tower, so, not wanting to get my cut infected, Gia climbed to the top without me. Here is her report:
“Climbing the 9 stories of the imposing Victory Tower seemed like a huge feat from afar. Barefoot and with two cameras in hand, I went inside the start of what appeared to be a dark vertical maze. I was glad I was not claustrophobic considering the low ceiling and dark narrow passages. Light shone only through the tiny windows on each floor. Almost every inch of the interior had carvings and images of Hindu gods and goddesses. I nearly forgot how long I had been climbing up until I suddenly reached the top of the tower. The screens on the windows impeded what could have been a beautiful view of the rest of the fort, but it was still worth the climb.”
Other things to see at Chittorgarh Fort
We visited another small palace, a few temples and a gate on the opposite side to the ones we originally passed through. We also caught a quick glimpse of the impressive Tower of Fame (Kirti Stambha).
A Rickshaw Tour of Chittorgarh Fort: The Details
- Entrance Fees: As of July 2016 entry to Chittorgarh Fort (for foreigners) is 200 INR.
- Organising a rickshaw tour: Rickshaw touts will bombard you with offers as soon as you exit the train station. Apparently 400 INR is a good price but our driver offered 300 INR straight away. At just over $4 USD for 2-3 hours it was a great deal. Cycling seems like the ideal mode of transport but the midsummer heat meant that wasn’t an option for us.
- Getting to Chittorgarh: The train from Bundi to Chittorgarh takes around two hours. You could easily see Chittorgarh Fort and then continue on to Udaipur (another 2 hours by bus).
- Where to stay and eat in Chittorgarh: We stayed at Hotel Amber Plaza in an acceptable 450 INR room. There doesn’t seem to be too many good budget hotels in town; we chose this one because it’s just around the corner from the bus stand. There’s an excellent restaurant across the road from Hotel Amber Plaza (I can’t remember the name but it’s easy to find).
From Chittorgarh we made our way to Udaipur, one of our favourite places in Rajasthan. Stay tuned for that and more posts about Rajasthan.
Have you been to any forts in Rajasthan? Which was your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.