Tosh

Tosh is a small village in the deep valley of exotic Himalayas. It is less explored and perfect for people looking for some solitude.

Once you reach Tosh you can either do day treks to nearby villages or simply relax and take it slow with no itinerary in mind.

Here I am summing up our 2 days in Tosh.

Day 1 ( Kasol -> Tosh )

We hired a cab from Kasol at around 12 noon which dropped us at Tosh taxi stand at 1:30 pm. Post crossing the bridge we started walking towards our campsite.

Walking through small alleys, and getting lost in this beautiful village where every corner is worth spending some time.

People have painted their houses in vibrant colors and you can’t help but click pictures.

Initial one km is steep as we climbed stairs and sometimes even gave way to horses, donkeys, and goats.

Remaining two km is a straight narrow trail with scenic views of snow-clad mountains and beautiful apple orchids on the way.

We reached the Stone Age Inn at around 3:30 pm. After having dal rice and potato fries for lunch we explored the campsite.

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It started getting dark and chilly post 5:30 pm. I survived on multiple cups of Lemon ginger honey tea to keep me warm. Since there was no electricity and network we had dinner and retired early.

  • Stay -> Stone age Cafe & Inn
  • Distance -> ~ 3-4kms
  • Time Taken -> 1.5 -2 hours
  • Difficulty Level -> Easy

Day 2

(Tosh -> Kutla -> Budhava -> Glacier Point -> Kutla )

We woke up early since it was freezing outside we took it a bit slow and started our trek to Kutla at around 11:30 am.

We were confidently walking along the Parvathi river for a good 45 min. We met a villager, who told us that we were trekking in the completely opposite direction. We followed her till the base and from there she routed us to the trail to Kutla.

Trek from Tosh to Budhanva is not difficult the first two km is a bit steep and I ended up taking frequent breaks.

From Kutla onwards it is mostly straight walk till the end. Kulta has 2-3 small places where you can camp overnight.

We took a 30-minute break in Kutla. Had tea while we were still contemplating if we should continue trekking till G point, as we had started a bit late from Tosh and then due to the wrong route we were already running late by 2 hours.
Out of Sheer excitement, we decided to give it a try anyway.

From Kutla onwards the ground was covered with fresh snow and 2 dogs kept us company. Dogs here are friendly and you will always have a dog accompanying you till the end but these two kept on fighting with each other on the narrow path which made us feel a bit scared.

At one point herd of buffalo was coming from one narrow end and our mischievous duo started barking at them, One buffalo got furious and started running towards us. We freaked out and decided to skip the remaining trek.

On our way back we met a couple who were planning to go further since we now had company we decided to give it another try. After walking for almost an hour on snow with some slippery patches in between we managed to reach G point at 4:30 pm.

I felt views on the way were much more breathtaking than the final spot. I wish we had more time in hand as I wanted to slow it down to enjoy the views around. It would definitely have been a huge loss to miss this part of the trek as it turned out to be the high point of our trip.

Post spending 10-15 min at G Point we started returning back to avoid walking in the dark as some parts were slippery and post-sunset temperature here drops to below zero degrees.

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By the time we reached Kulta, it was pitch dark, Instead of trekking all the way back to Tosh Campsite we decided to stay in a small cottage in Kutla. Luckily we got a tiny but cozy room for just 600 bucks (Olive Garden).

We spent most of the night in their Kitchen cum cafeteria area which was warm and where we met 2-3 trekking groups. Since there was no electricity and the space was tiny, we all quickly got comfortable with each other shared food and travel stories and had a memorable time together. After a night of fun, we retired at around 1 am.

  • Stay -> Olive Garden
  • Distance -> ~ 8kms
  • Time Taken -> 6 hours
  • Difficulty Level -> Medium due to snow and some steep patches.

I felt a unique connection with Budhavan. My mom called me around the same time when I had just passed Kutla village and was walking on the snowy patch towards Budhavan.

May be snow or the grassland or those tall trees, I am not sure what it was which reminded me of Pahalgam, where we would visit my grandparents as kids. My Nani would cook something special pack it in hot-case, and then me,nani, mom and my mischievous brother would walk some distance, spread a sheet unpack food and then have a small picnic almost every day during our stay. Post lunch we would wash our plates in a stream nearby. On some days we would just carry pink tea in a thermos with some kulcha and enjoy it while watching horses and herds of sheep pass by.

Tiny fragments of my memory were making me feel nostalgic. Sometimes we wish we could roll back all the events in our life to take us back to that single moment where we can stay bit longer, not knowing what lies ahead is a blessing

Day 3 Kutla -> Kasol.

We woke up at 7 am and without wasting any time we started to descend to our Campsite in Tosh. After freshening up and a hearty breakfast we packed our backpacks and trekked all the way back to the taxi stand.

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On the way back we requested a lady to give us some apples from her orchid and she generously gave us 8-10 apples which we kept on munching for the next few days 🙂

Tips

  • Wear proper shoes “all-terrain trekking shoes” would be the best choice.
  • Carry a trekking stick to help you through steep and slippery patches.
  • Carry warm clothes. The best way is to layer it up as during the day when it is sunny you can manage even in a basic T-shirt but mornings and evenings get really chilly.
  • Keep hydrating yourself even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Carry basic medicine.
  • Carry enough cash, there was not a single ATM in Kasol.
  • Avoid heavy breakfast before the trek, stick to non-oily non-fried and easily digestible food items.
  • Wear cap sunglasses and some sunscreen, I got sunburns all over my face and look like a ghost now 🙁
  • Carry some dry fruits, biscuits.
  • Small backpack to keep your hands free while walking.
  • Please don’t litter – just leave your footprints and take back memories 😉

Elephanta Caves

What are Elephanta Caves

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Originally Gharapuri (city of caves), these are a collection of rock-cut caves on an island ~ 10kms away from Gateway of India. Built somewhere between the 5th and 6th centuries by various Hindu Kings. Portuguese removed the stone at the entrance which had inscription details, which was unfortunately lost later on.

Caves got their modern name from Portuguese who made the island as their base in the 17th century. They saw a huge sculpture of an elephant at the entrance and named it Elephanta caves. Unlike Ajanta and Ellora which are primarily Jain and Buddhist caves; these are dedicated to Hindu God Shiva.

Why Elephants caves are so famous

These Caves celebrate Shiva in many forms. Lord Shiva is nirakar (shapeless). Anant (limitless), Param aatma ( the ultimate soul), Adi yoga ( the first Yogi), nothingness – Shoonya ( state of complete zero – or thoughtlessness ), omnipresent, Natraja (Lord of Dance), Rudhra ( Angry form), Gangadhar. He lives the life of a hermit who wears nothing but Tigerskin and is always covered in ash ( Vibhuti).

There are many buddha stupas too.

Why Elephanta caves have defaced sculpture & lost or damaged monuments.

Invaders who knew nothing about India and its grand culture vandalized, looted and damaged beyond repair whatever they could get their hands on. Gharapuri too suffered a lot. First during the Islamic rulers of Gujarat Sultanate and later, when Portuguese made Elephanta Island as their base they used these sculptures for firing and target practices. It is painful to even think about how they vandalized most of the sculptures and damaged them beyond recognition.

Post these thousand years long worship places in Elephanta caves were abandoned.

In the 19th century, even British officials tried to move many beautiful sculptures to England. During one such incident, a huge elephant sculpture got severely damaged which was later moved to Jijamata Udhyan. There are many lost sculptures that can be found in various museums around the world including few in Mumbai Museum (Vastu Sanghralay).

The colonial-era British publications state they were “defaced by the zeal of Mahommedans and Portuguese”.

Main Sculptures – their forms and depictions

Trimurti Sadasiva – three-headed Shiva

Main Murti is 20 feet high and the most celebrated one at Elephanta Caves. It represents the supreme divinity in Hindu Dharma. Tri Deity (Tri Murti) consists of

  • The right face is of the Creator ( Supreme Brahma) holding a lotus in his hand which represents life.
  • The central face is in a deep meditative state and has calmness on his face it represents The Preserver ( Lord Vishnu).
  • The left face is of the god of Destruction or Salvation (Lord Shiva).

This concept plays an important role in Hinduism as it reflects life in all forms from birth to death and beyond.

Ardhanarishvara – androgynous form of Shiva & Shakti 

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Hinduism celebrates Shiva ( the male power) and his better half Shakti (femininity). Ardhanarishvara represents half Shiva and half Shakti.

This can have many interpretations like Shiva is nothing without Shakti and both are inseparable, or ShivaShakti or ultimate God is gender-neutral but the most important explanation which I have read is that it means the soul has no gender.

This idea also manifested in the union of the Linga of Shiva and Yoni in all Shiva Temples.

Yogishvara – Adiyogi Meditating Shiva

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Shiva is known as the first Yogi. Here Shiva is in padmasana, standard pose for meditation. His face looks calm and he is in a deep meditative state. Sadly the legs and arms of the sculpture are broken.

Ganga-Dhara – Shiva trapping Ganga in his matted locks

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The story behind this is, Bhagiratha a King prayed to Lord Brahma to bring Goddess Ganga from heaven to earth to wash away the sins of his ancestors. Lord Brahma granted him his wish. Goddess Ganga was angry, mighty and wild and her descent to earth could bring only destruction. So Shiva calmly trapped her in his matted locks (jhata) and let her out only in small & calmer streams. Here you can see Bhagiratha with his folded hands in the bottom-left corner, tri-faced rivers Ganga Yamuna and Saraswati on top. Brahma, Vishnu and many others witnessing this moment.

Kalyanasundaram – Shiv Parvati Wedding

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Wedding of Shiva and Parvati. Bride on the right and groom on the left. Bride is beautifully adorned with jewelry and looking shy. Groom is wearing sacred thread around his chest which has significance to date in Hindu marriages. The bride’s father is giving her away. Their hands now damaged but look like they were holding hands.

Shiv Linga shrine

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In the center of the main cave is huge ShivLing, where Shiva is worshiped in the form of Linga and Yoni. To date, all the Shiv temples are worshiped in this form. One of the exterior walls is Raksha Dwarpal (demon guardians) carrying weapons and guarding the cave.

Andhakasura-vadha – Killing of Andhaka

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Andhaka a King who had a boom that he could only be killed by Shiva but no one else. Believing he was mortal he concurred almost everything and became Lord of three worlds (Dharti, Patal & Dev Lok). He was turning into an invincible monster. One day when he tried to forcefully take the beautiful wife of a hermit which turned out to be Lord Shiva himself. It angered Shiva and started a full-fledged battle which lasted for five hundred years. Here Shiva is in angry form, he is carrying a bowl in one hand which has the blood of Andhaka.

Ravananugraha – Ravan trying to uproot Mount Kailasha

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Ravan with his all power tried to uproot Mount Kailash (the abode of Shiv Parvati). Shiva pressed the mountain with his big toe and trapped Ravana in Patal Loka. Ravana understood his mistake and started praying to Lord Shiva.

Uma-Mahesvara-Murti completely defaced Shiva Murti

Nataraja – The Dancing Shiva

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Nataraj represents Shiva in a dancing form. Dance form can be of Tandhav (dance of destruction) or Lasya which is the dance of celebration. Shiva looks graceful here and his 8 hands depicting Nataraj form. Sadly this sculpture too is Vandalized and in ruins.

How to Reach

  • Take a boat from Gateway of India. It takes around 1 hour to reach Elephanta caves.
  • Elephanta Caves is perfect for a half-day trip from Mumbai.

Where to Stay

  • You can choose to any stay anywhere in Mumbai as the Gateway Of India is easily accessible within 1 hour from any part of Mumbai 🙂

Tips

  • Caves are closed on Monday.
  • Please avoid the rainy season. Boats to Elephanta caves don’t ply during the rainy season (mid-June – Sep end ).
  • Winter months are perfect for visiting Elephanta Caves.
  • Please wear caps and sunglasses as it gets really hot during the day.
  • Prefer comfortable wear as you need to walk a little bit.

Ancient Temples of India

“We can’t draw them on paper and they did on rocks”

Whenever I explore any part of India, I always try to visit old temples.
I am not a very religious person but I like to peek into the grand history and culture of our beautiful country. I feel our ancestors spent generations building these beautiful temples.
We can definitely spend a few hours to soak into their tranquility.
I will keep on adding more to the list as and when I visit more such place

1) Kailasha Temple – ( Ellora – Maharashtra)

  • Kailasha temple is definitely one of the wonders of the ancient world. Carved out of single rock and drilled down from top to bottom this 8th-century temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • This rock-cut temple is the largest monolithic structure in the world and took only 2 decades to build. Around 200000 tons of rock was removed with just hammer and chisel.which is a daunting task even in this era with all the modern facilities.
  • Temple walls are beautifully carved depicting many events of Ramayan and Mahabharat. Every corner of this temple tells a story – all you have to do is to sit and observe. 
  • Mughal ruler Aurangzeb tried to vandalize it with 1000 men for 3 years, but all he could do was minor damage here and there which speaks volumes about the craftsmanship of our ancestors. 
  • I visited it around sunset climbed the hill surrounding it and sat there wondering how that era must have been like, how many craftsmen might have worked day and night to finish it in just 20 years with zero precision of error.
  • In its full glory when decorated with diyas it would definitely have been the most beautiful sights to witness. If there is only one temple in your wishlist to visit in India, it has to be this one.

Tip: A little climb to the top of the hill will give you a splendid view of the grandeur of this massive temple.

2) Dilwara Group of Temple ( Mount Abu – Rajasthan)

  • Dilwara is a famous pilgrimage of the Jain community. There are five shrines within the huge complex dedicated to different gods.
    These temples are made of white marble and were built between the 11th to 13th centuries.
  • One can witness intricately carved beautifully designs on ceilings, entrance, and pillars. You can get lost in each and every design especially the ones carved on ceilings.
  • No camera or mobile phones are allowed inside the temple complex, this allows you to be present in the current moment and admire these beautiful monuments and experience-rich culture of Jainism.

3) Martand Sun Temple – (Kashmir)

  • This 8th-century temple is dedicated to the Sun god ( Martand means Sun in Sanskrit) and was built by ruler Lalitaditya of the Korkota Dynasty. The foundation of the temple complex was laid somewhere between 35- and 500 CE.
  • It is known as the most elegant structures ever built in the world during that period due to its breathtaking architecture and grandeur.
  • Constructed in limestone the entire temple complex is built on top of the plateau. 
    Write H. Gotezi ” The temple of Martand set the model for Kashmir Hindu Art in all the following centuries. Thus Lalitaditya must be regarded as the founder not only of the short-lived empire but also of six centuries of Kashmir Hindu Art.”
  • Muslim ruler Sikandar Butshikan destroyed it in the 15th century. It took his army 13 months to fully damage and destroy it, and in the end, his army left the temple burning for many days. It stood in ruins since then and even today one gets surprised over the art and skill of the builders by looking at its ruins.
  • I visited Martand temple in 2009 and have lost all the photos from that trip, hopefully, soon I will get to visit Kashmir again.
    You can check the glory of this temple in this Bollywood song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul3wufPJ4UE

4) Hampi group of temples

I have consolidated list of all the Hampi ruins and temples in this blog post –https://rahgeir.blogspot.com/2019/11/ruins-of-hampi.html

5) Chennakeshava & Halebidu Temples ( Hassan – Karnataka )

  • Chennakesava temple is a Vishnu temple on the banks of river Kaveri while Halebidu Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Both of these temples are grandest examples of Hoysala architecture.
  • These temples were built in the early 12th  & 13th Centuries, during this period Belur was the capital of the Hoysala Kingdom until annexed by Allauddin Khilji. The Hoysala Dynasty ruled over three centuries from the 10-14th century and built many beautiful temples in Karnataka.
  • These temples have vast complex and beautifully carved structures giving them an old-world charm. Walls are adorned with many important events from Mahabharat and Ramayan.
  • It took 3 generations and around 100 years to build the Chennakeshava temple. Idols are carved so beautifully that they shine and almost look like grillwork.

6) Shravanabelagola Temple ( Karnataka)

  • The Gomateshwara statue is a 57-foot high statue dedicated to the Lord Bahubali. Built around 983 A.D it is the world’s largest monolithic statue. Chandragupta Maurya spent the last few years of his life here post converting to Jainism.
  • Located on Vindhyagiri Hill one has to climb around 600+ stairs without shoes to reach the main temple. On August 5, 2007, the statue at Shravanabelagola was voted by the readers of Times of India as the first of the Seven Wonders of India.

7) Jagdish Temple ( Udaipur- Rajasthan)

  • Built around 1651 Jagdish temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is an architectural marvel of Mewar dynasty, The temple is in the heart of the city close to most of the tourist places in Udaipur.
  • The temple consists of beautiful carvings on the walls and ceilings and is raised on a tall terrace

8) Mahadev Temple Tambi Surla (Goa)

  • This 12th Century Shiva Temple is the oldest temple in Goa. One of the few temples which survived religious intolerance during Muslim & Portuguese attacks due to its remote location in the deep forest.
  • If you want to explore something offbeat in Goa then you should definitely add this to your list.

9) Ranakpur Temple ( Rajasthan)

  • Located in the lush green Aravali mountain range and built-in the 15th-century is this beautiful Jain temple. It was built using white marble and is one of the largest and most important temples of Jain culture.
  • Walls and pillars are carved with intricate designs and is a masterpiece of architecture. Ranakpur is near Udaipur and can be easily covered in a day’s trip from Udaipur.
  • detailed post here http://triponcards.com/ranakpur-treat-to-eyes-and-soul/

10) Samadeeshwara Temple (Rajasthan)

  • Temple is dedicated to lord shiva and was built by Raja Bhoja in 11th Century AD. Trimurti Shiva is enshrined in the sanctum and the interior and exterior of the temple are elaborately carved with many beautiful sculptures.
  • On the backside of the temple is sacred Sunder Kund.

11) Lepakshi Temple ( Andhra Pradesh)

  • Lepakshi is famous for its temples dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva, and Veerabhadra. During the exile of Lord Ram when Ravan was forcefully carrying Sita away to Lanka, Jatayu tried to protect Sita and was wounded in that fight. When Lord Rama reached the spot, he saw the bird and compassionately said  “Le Pakshi” — ‘rise bird’.
  • The temple is also famous for the hanging pillars which are only suspended from the roof and don’t touch the ground. Don’t miss the massive Nandi statue a few meters away from the temple.

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Ranakpur – treat to eyes and soul.

Dedicated to the first Tirthankara Lord Adinath Ranakpur Jain temple ~ 100kms from Udaipur is the largest & one of the most important temples of Jain Culture. It is also a popular tourist destination and is visited by Indians as well as foreign tourists.

Temple was built by a Jain businessman in the 15th century amidst the forest in the Aravalli range, it got its name from Mewar King Rana Kumbha who donated land for the temple.

More than 2700 workers were involved in building it over 50 years, I feel these craftsmen were driven by deep-rooted faith and devotion towards their lord. They seem to have surrendered to their gods who guided them in the journey and the final result was a blissful treat to the eyes and soul.

Built-in Solanki (Maru – Gurjara) architecture and carved of white marble for which boulders were transported from nearby areas.

It is built on an elevated platform. All the walls, entrance, and ceilings are ornamented with intricate carvings and designs. I couldn’t find any section of the temple left unadorned. It even has an elevated sitting area where you can enjoy views with some cool breeze, definitely helps in getting some relief from the scorching heat.

At the center of the temple are four identical images of the Lord Tirthankara which are facing in all four directions, hence it is also known the Chaumukh Temple. An idol in all four direction represents the Lord’s pursuit in all directions.

If you have ever visited Dilwara Jain temples you can’t miss the similarity especially the elaborate designs hanging at the entrance.

Temple was damaged during the Mughals invasions, post that it was lost in history and even briefly used by dacoits. Later re-discovered renovated and opened for pilgrimage.

Lord Parshvanatha with 1008 serpent head depicting story where the serpent had protected Lord.

Marble marvel not only on walls but even the ceilings of this temple are also intricately carved with detailed geometric designs.

Temple has more than 1400 Pillars all carved in a different manner without any two having the same design.

Few of the 1400+ marble pillars

How to reach

  • ~ 2.5 hours drive from Udaipur
  • ~ 1 hour from Kumbhalgad
  • ~ 3-4 hours drive from Jodhpur

Where did we stay

We didn’t stay in Ranakpur, we chose Kumbhalgad as our base.

Travel Tips

  • Ranakpur is a popular day trip from Udaipur you can combine it with Kumbhalgad and Eklingji.
  • Non-Jains and cameras are allowed between 12.00 PM and 5.00 PM only.
  • Oct-March will be the best season to visit to avoid Indian Summers.
  • We had lunch in the temple Bhojhnalay. Simple unlimited Indian Thali in community kitchen for less than 100 Indian rupees.
  • Dress modestly carry a scarf \ long skirt to cover your legs and arms for ladies as well as for men.
  • Avoid carrying any leather items, keep them in your car or submit then at the security counter.
  • Respect religious sentiments.
  • Maintain peace and please ask Pandit Ji before clicking photos of the main idol.

Chittorgarh

Chittorgarh a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest fort in India. Chittor was the capital of “Kingdom of Mewar” till the Royal family moved to Udaipur. Chittorgarh is a symbol of Rajput Chivalry resistance and bravery and has witnessed a lot of bloodsheds over centuries due to its strategic position and importance.

The Ruins run chills down the spine. Stories traveling as folklore fill you with gratitude and immense respect for Rajput Chivalry, who fought selflessly and protected our ancestors from conversion and massacre.

The freedom we have today is at the cost of countless sacrifices.

The Fort is built on a 180-meter high hill covering 700 acres and has seven gates. The fort houses many palaces, temples, towers, and historically significant monuments.

Glimpse of its history which is soaked in blood.

1303 (First Jauhar of Chittor)

  • In 1303 Chittor was ruled by King Ratan Singh of the Guhila dynasty. Delhi ruler Allahudin Khilji captured Chittor after an eight-month siege.
  • He immediately ordered the massacre of Chittor’s population. According to Amir Khusrau, 30,000 Hindus were “cut down like dry grass” as a result of this order.
  • To avoid the wrath of the barbaric and bloodthirsty Army, Hindu Women of Chittor led by their queens committed Jauhar (mass self-immolation).
  • Hammir Singh of the Mewar dynasty finally managed to capture the fort, he is even credited with turning the Mewar dynasty into a military machine.
  • Mewar dynasty flourished into a stronger military force under the reign of another Mewar King Rana Kumbha.

1535 (Second Jauhar of Chittor)

  • Post Rana Sanga’s death in 1528 Chittorgad weakened due to weaker Kings, it directly came under regency of window queen Rani Karnavati as her sons were still minors.
  • Thinking of it as a good opportunity Sultan of Gujarat Bahadhur Shah sacked the fort with his Army.
  • When Chittorgad started facing attacks by Sultan Rani Karnavati sought the assistance of the Mughal emperor Humayun by sending him a rakhi.
  • Humayun responded graciously but before he could reach Chittorgarh, Bahadur Shah sacked the fort for the second time.
  • Rani Karnavati refused to flee and post sending her sons to Bundi she shut herself with 13,000 women with gunpowder, lit it and thus committed mass suicide While all the men wore saffron clothes and went out to fight till death.
  • Rani Karnavati was the grandmother of legendary Maharana Pratap.
  • Special mention to maid Panna Dhai ( Nursemaid) who took Rani’s son Udai Singh to Kumbhalgad.
  • When Udai still an Infant was attacked by his uncle Bhanvir, Panna pointed at the bed, occupied by her son, and watched as he was murdered. Panna Dai sacrificed her own son’s life to protect the prince of Mewar.

Many years later King Udai Singh and a considerable force from Mewar, marched into Chittor to reclaim his throne.

Saka – In Rajputs during the war, when the defeat in the war was certain and seeing this woman decide to jump into the jaws of Jauhar, men don saffron robes with the determination to fight till their last breath. Either they will win victorious or else they will destroy more and more of the enemy army while fighting for the last hope of victory in the heart. It is called as Saka.

1567 (Third Jauhar of Chittor)

  • In 1567 Chittorgarh was ruled by Rana Uday Singh II.
  • Mughal Emperor Akbar had eyes on Chittorgad, he attacked the fort with his massive Army to what he called ” humble the arrogance of the brave and fierce Ranas” as few brave kings of Mewar had resisted him.
  • When gates of the fort opened 8000 Rajput fought bravely and were sacrificed in the battle which lasted 4 months. 20000-25000 civilians too were massacred by Akbar’s Army post the seize and many women committed Jauhar to protect their modesty.
  • According to David Smith, when Akbar entered the Chittorgarh fort in 1568, it was “nothing but an immense crematorium”.

Rising pillars of smoke soon signaled the rite of Jauhar as the Rajputs killed their families and prepared to die in a supreme sacrifice. In a day filled with hand-to-hand struggles until virtually all the defenders died. The Mughal troops slaughtered another 20-25,000 ordinary persons, inhabitants of the town and peasants from the surrounding area on the grounds that they had actively helped in the resistance.— John F. Richards, The Mughal Empire[7]

Main Places to Visit

7 gates of Chittorgarh

From the base to the hilltop, the Paidal Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jorla Pol, Laxman Pol, and Ram Pol, the final and main gate.

Rana Khumba Palace

Now in complete ruins, this palace was rebuilt by Maharana Kumbha on a ruined palace which was built in the 734 AD by Bappa Rawal.

Maharana Kumbha lived most of his life in this palace.

The founder of Udaipur Rana Udai Singh was born here.

Krishna devotional poet-saint MeeraBai lived here most of her life.

Kirti Stambh

Chittor has a history of Jain culture going back several centuries. In 12th-century a tower was built by Jain merchant. Built-in Solanki architecture standing 72ft high and is adorned with beautiful carvings.

Vijay Stambh

Rana Kumbha, in 1448 to commemorate his victory over the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat led by Mahmud Khilji. The tower is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The topmost story features an image of the Jain Goddess, Padmavati. Rana Kumbha also had the word Allah carved in Arabic nine times in the third story and eight times in the eighth.

Our guide told us the intention to carve Allah on the third and eight floors was to protect it from any Islamic Invasions in the future.

Padmini Palace
Meerabai Temple
Kumbh-Shyam Temple

Samadhishwar Temple

Dedicated to Lord Shiva and built-in the 11th century. The main sanctum is enshrined with three-faced Shiva.

Ruins of the ancient temples destroyed during many invasions.

Tridev Temple

On the north of the temple is Gaumukh Kund.

Gaumukha Kund
Jauhar Place
protests against Padmavat movie at one of the gates

We visited Chittorgarh on 4th Dec 2017, just before the release of the movie Padmavat. There we protest going on against the cast and director of the movie by Rajputana community.

We all have read about the multiple invasions, Jauhar and Chittorgard in our history books, but sitting here witnessing the ruins and the untold stories which our guide shared with us filled my heart with rage and sadness at the same time.

Across multiple wars, more than 1 lakh people were massacred or burnt alive here. Our guide told us when Khilji and his army finally entered the fort, they mercilessly butchered every person they saw. Breastfeeding kids were snatched from their mothers, killed in front of their mothers who were then raped and killed. They destroyed temples, some ruins of these temples are still preserved.

How to reach

  • ~ 3 hours drive from Udaipur.
  • ~ 2.5 hours drive from Khumbhalgad.
  • ~ 3 hours drive from Mount Abu.

Where did we stay

We didn’t stay in Chittorgarh, we covered it on the road trip from Kumbhalgad to Udaipur.

Travel Tip

  1. Please hire a guide, this place has historic significance. You need a good guide to explain all this.
  2. Most of the guides will push you into visiting shops that sell Chandan Saris, You can avoid it by politely refusing.
  3. Chittaurgarh can be easily covered in a day trip from Udaipur. Leave Udaipur by 10 am have lunch on the way and reach around 2 pm.
  4. If you are interested in history then don’t make it a hasty visit, keep 4-5 hours to explore all the places in the fort.
  5. I would suggest reaching here around 3 pm since it is very hot during the day.
  6. Nov – Feb will be the best time to visit.
  7. Chittor Fort is huge so covering all the places on foot is a bit daunting. Please book a car which can take you to all the monuments.
  8. Don’t miss witnessing the sunset from Rana Kumbha palace.
  9. We couldn’t find any decent restaurant nearby, so please eat on the way.