Tuesday, October 20, 2009



Skyline of Chittorgarh.On the extreme left , Rana Kumbha' s palace. On the extreme right, 'Jayastambha'.

4th of the seven gates of Chittor's fort. In local language,fort's gate is known as 'Pol'.The first gate is known as Ram pol, named after Rama of Ramayana! The other gates are called : Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jodla Pol and Laxman Pol .

My first visit to Chittorgarh was in 1971. A very memorable trip. My mother accompanied me to Udaipur and Chittorgarh and we together had a very memorable unhurried trip through the land of Mewar's glorious past. Before my visit , I did a bit of home work . Some of the monuments of Chittor's fort moved me in a way I still remember, even after lapse of 38 years.

For example, in the empty temple of Meeraa, a lone, old singer was singing Meeraa's 'bhajan' .....the melody still haunts me. I have visited this temple on several occasions during later years, but, never came across another singer like her.Now-a-days , Meeraa's 'bhajans' are played in a CD player and that old-world charm is lost.

122' tall 9-storied 'Jayastambha'( Victory Tower') was built by Rana Kumbha between 1458 and 1468 to celebrate his victory over Mohd. Khilji, ruler of Malwa in 1440. The tower sits on a 10' high pedestal and is 30' wide at the base. The tower is adorned with figures of gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology.

Rana Kumbha's 'Jayastambha (' Victory Tower') stands as glorious as ever. His dilapidated palace is now a site for soni-lumiere show. As I entered the Padmini's palace , I wondered if a time machine would tranport me to the fateful day in 1503 when Ala-ud-din Khilji was escorted by Rana to view the reflection of his beautiful queen Padmini in a mirror.

Queen Padmini sat on the steps of this building. Ala-ud-din sat in a hall on the 1st floor of a building opposite to this one, with his back towards a window through which a mirror caught her reflection . The lustful Sultan waged war to snatch away Padmini from Rana Ratansing, laid siege of this fort .... at the end, the soldiers of Rana fought to death and the women chose self-immolation to avoid capture .

A sculpture from the dilapidated temple on the west of 'Jayastambha'. The goddess has 4 hands, a 'chakra' and a string of beads on her right hands and a very likely a written page on her upper left hand while the lower left hand is stretched to offer blessing.She is fully clothed, wears ornaments and has her feet at right angles to each other. Is she a Jain goddess.

Ruby and I found time to take photos of 'Jayastambha', Samiddheswr Shiva's temple and of sculptures on a nearly broken temple in the western side of 'Jayastambha'. We could spend time inside the Shiva temple, marveling at the three faces of Shiva (I came across term 'Adbhutananda Shiva' in a blog on Iconography by Ms Kavitha) .Thanks to the priest, we could capture the deity's faces in nos of shots.

The three faces of Shiva. The front face has extra-ordinarily large eyes, often used in Jain sculptures ( Aadinath and others), side faces depicting 'Shantarasa' and 'Adbutarasa' (emotions : calm and queer).

What I regret is that I missed out taking a photo of the side faces from different angles. Outside, the sun was about to set. I could take much less photographs than I would have liked to as the light started to fade. When we visited Meera's temple and the Jain temple, it was quite dark.

A view of the skyline of Chittor beyond the 'Gopuram' of 'Samidheswar' temple.

The western sky was bright orange when viewed through the 'Natmandir' . The city of Chittor lay ahead of us, under the deep blue sky , bright after a shower and turning red as the sun started his climb down.We had to hurry as Kalika, Meeraa and Jain temples were yet to be visited before it turns dark.But, eventually , we were late. We knew we have come back at least once more for the son-et-lumiere show, a climb atop 'Kirtistambha' ( this 72' tower was built in 12th century) , a walk down the stairs of 'Gomukh' reservoir and another trip down the memory lane.

A poor shot of 'Kirtistambha' , taken from a distance. At its right, Digambar Jain Temple.

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