Bravery, sacrifice and chivalry are the words that are associated with Rajasthan; Chittorgarh and Udaipur to be precise, be it for Rana Pratap, Queen Padmini or even Panna Dhai (the wet nurse of Prince Udai Singh II)

Chittorgarh’s prime attraction is the gigantic fort that stands tall atop a hill….the same fort that brought defeat to Chittor in the hands of Alauddin Khilji who, obsessed with Queen Padmini’s (wife of the Rana of Chittor, Rattan Singh) beauty, surrounded the fort with his hostile forces that led to the Queen’s jauhar.

According to legend, this fort was built by Bheem and all of Chittor’s attractions are inside this fort. Any visitor to this historical site must allow one entire day to explore all the sites. Even if the history of Chittor is known to all, it is advisable to take a guide along because their dramatic narration of incidents adds to the flavour of the place and brings history to life.

The first attraction within the fort premises is the palace of Rana Kumbha, a poet, musician and an ardent admirer of art who put Chittorgarh on the map of the art lover’s world. This 15th century palace is in ruins yet it has some features that are strikingly beautiful. It was here that the jauhar of Queen Padmini had taken place; in an underground tunnel that ran from here to a nearby reservoir which we visited later. Near this palace is the Jay Stambh or the victory tower, built by Rana Kumbha sometimes during the middle of the 15th century, commemorating his victory over Mahmud Khilji of Malwa. The beautiful tower with sculptures adorning the exterior reaches up to a height of nine levels and there are stairs which can be climbed up to reach the top.

In between the palace of Rana Kumbha and the Jay Stambh stood the beautiful Meera Bai temple and after the victory tower is the Gaumukh reservoir is the next that has the opening leading to the tunnel in which jauhar was committed.

The most beautiful part of the fort, like its Queen, was the palace of Padmini. The palace is built beside a lotus pool along with the pavilion in which Padmini sat, and the reflection of which Alauddin Khilji saw in a mirror. There were heavy bronze gates in the palace which now adorns the Agra Fort as Emperor Akbar had carried away those to his capital. Padmini’s palace was used as a summer resort by the Ranas of Chittor whereas the winter resort was Rattan Singh’s pretty palace on the banks of a small lake.

Chittorgarh is normally visited as a day trip from Udaipur, so we returned to Udaipur in the evening to complete our unfinished tour of the city the next day.

Most visitors to Udaipur get carried away by the grandeur of the City Palace and its museum, charisma of Lake Pichola, and the glamorous Lake Palace Hotel on Jagniwas Island. So did we, yet we found some very interesting places, thankfully not so touristy, that left an impression of the fabled city.

Fateh Sagar Lake was one water body with fascinating views of it from the surrounding hills. It was constructed by Maharana Jai Singh and then re constructed by Maharana Fateh Singh when the dam got destroyed by torrential rain, hence the name Fateh Sagar. Overlooking the lake is the well known hill Moti Magri. We walked on the designated path to reach up to the top of the hill that had a beautiful view of the blue lake shimmering in the afternoon sun. The statue of Maharana Pratap is the star attraction on the hill top. The huge equestrian statue of the Rana on his favourite horse Chetak is a top photo stop on this hill.

A very fine collection of earthen ware, pottery and sculptures are displayed in the Ahar Museum which is practically unknown to lot of visitors. This museum displays relics that even date back to 1700 BC and is just beautiful. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed anywhere in the museum. A little away from this, is a cluster of cenotaphs of the Maharanas of Mewar.

Visible from the city of Udaipur, far away on a hill top stands Sajjan Garh or the monsoon palace of Maharana Sajjan Singh. The palace is closed to the public but it is worth going up to the hill to take a look at the city and the surrounding hills.

No visit to a place is complete without sampling its traditional delicacies and collecting memorabilia. We sampled a pure vegetarian meal that comprised of sogra, a roti made out of millet, simple puris, urad daal, mogri mangori(desert bean curry) and ghewar ( urad paste that is dried, crushed, deep fried and dipped in sugar syrup). For shopping enthusiasts, Udaipur is a heaven; starting from miniature paintings to ethnic jewellery, from carpets to rugs and from marble to wooden carvings everything is available throughout the city.

Our dream vacation to the royal state of Rajasthan was over and it was time to return to reality….