That November evening, all those Padmawati stories came alive in front of me.
I could hear her sing, and talk, and walk around. And yes, I could also hear her painful scream. It was an anguished scream.
Chittor, Oh my Chittor!- Padmawati Stories
To those of you who have never traveled to India, Chittor is a place that oozes history. Though it is a fort, yet, this place resembles an old man, full of wounds, waiting to recount his eventful history to all who care.
Many say that this fort is more than 1,000 years old. Yes, older than many countries in this world like the United States.
There are other forts too in India like the Red Fort in Delhi and the Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur and the Golconda of Hyderabad. But Chittor is not just a fort. It is living history. I think its stones and battlements were the warriors, queens, and soldiers of the past.
To me, Chittor, home of the Padmawati stories as well as the tales of Panna Dhai and Meera, is a pilgrimage. And I am not an exception. Millions of Indians almost revere Chittor and its mighty Rajputs.
Even as I write this stuff, I cannot resist booking a train ticket to this ‘pilgrimage’.
Gazing at the Moon
While I was in college at Udaipur, I was crazy about Chittor. Though it is around 70 miles from Udaipur, I used to bike to this fort-town to just spend some peaceful moments among the ruins.
And every time I sat on those battlements gazing at the rising moon, the Padmawati stories came flooding to me.
My favorite haunt was a wall that was just next to the ‘Jauhar Kund‘. If you are alone and planning to spend some quiet hours in the evenings in the Chittor fort, DON’T VENTURE NEAR THE JAUHAR KUND. Read on and I will tell you why later in the post.
That’s right. That autumn evening even as I marveled at the orange moon rising on the eastern horizon, I suddenly got disturbed by a female voice.
This voice was coming from the Jauhar Kund and seemed hollow. Without emotion. Ghostly.
I quickly ignored that voice; perhaps it belonged to a woman who was exploring the ruins.
But I heard that disemboweled voice again, and this time it came from just a few feet behind me. Was there a faint trace of perfume? Yes.
Who was she?
I quickly turned my head back but all I could see was the entrance to a room where a maid had seen her child killed by a jealous king.
My heart started pounding hard. It was 7 pm, getting dark and there was nobody in sight. I was in the midst of these haunted ruins and had no idea whether there was a lurking soul calling me out.
All those Padmawati stories now started flashing before me.
The bedecked women, all covered in jewelry and expensive clothes. Fair ladies who sang as they jumped in the pyre a few feet away from me. 16, 000 of them- all wanting to burn themselves to death to avoid a life of slavery. The Turkish Sultan had invaded this fort and had won the battle. But these fair ladies who were queens and princesses had decided to escape the Sultan’s armies by jumping into the burning pyre.
The year? 1303 August.
Was she Padmawati calling out to me?
I felt like a stupid guy seated there. One of the guards had just left after warning me that this place becomes strange after dark. And I had laughed him off.
And here I was listening to strange sounds near this tank of death.
Why are you here?
Soon, I could hear several voices- all of women. They were all talking in Mewari.
Some of them were sobbing too!
Was it my imagination- I wondered? Were things playing out in my head?
‘Who are you, and why are you here?’ , a woman asked me.
Shocked, I looked up and saw a middle-aged woman looking up at me inquisitively. She looked angry and her hair lay scattered over her otherwise graceful place.
Before I could answer, she motioned me to leave the place.
My mind said to me quietly,’ Let’s leave and ask no questions’. I packed my bag which contained my water bottle and got up.
Ready to leave, I could feel her gaze piercing my back and reaching my heart.
Sure enough, I left that haunted place of Chittor quickly and without looking back.
The year was 1995. November.
Was she Padmawati?
When I shared this incident with my friends later, they rebuked me. ‘No need to visit that place after dark,’ was their instruction.
I asked them, ‘ Was she Padmawati?’ But, I did not get any answer from them.
That’s it then, folks.
I thought I will share my experience of that fateful evening with you.
Did you like this post on Padmawati stories? Do you want to see the Chittor fort?
Then this is what you do. Take a train from Jaipur or Udaipur to Chittor. There are several trains like Mewar Express and Chetak Express that connect Jaipur and Udaipur to Chittor.
If you wish, you can even take a bus ride.
You may also read- http://www.ahauntedtravel.com/frog-weddings-culture-india/
A word of caution- hire an autorickshaw if you want to see the entire fort. It is spread over 700 acres and is quite vast in area.
Carry water with you. Even if you run out of water, don’t worry, there are several taps inside the fort.
I don’t think Chittor fort has restaurants, so you will have to have your food once you come down from there.
For accommodation, you can book some really good properties by visiting this site> http://rtdc.tourism.rajasthan.gov.in/
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