The Legend of Maharani Padmini

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series The sprawaling saga of Chittorgarh Fort

I was sitting at the ruins of old Shiva temple,lost in my thoughts, contemplating on the relationship Sisodia Rajputs shared with the Mughal dynasty. Suddenly, I realized that I had been there for quite long. I had to reach Padmini Palace before five pm after which entry in that palace is not allowed. The Palace was almost one kilometer from the temple and to make up for the lost time, I had to run in between.

The Padmini Palace

The Padmini Palace


Exhausted and huffing like an engine when I reached the palace, I could not find the entrance ticket. I searched all the pockets but it was not there. The caretaker was a generous man. My desperate search convinced him of the genuineness and he allowed me in.

Someone giggled. A familiar female voice! I looked around but could not spot anyone. Then I realized, my imagination was playing wild. I was imagining Jaishree giving a chuckle. She was not with me, so instead of getting embarrassed she could enjoy my lousy forgetfulness. It is usual for her to face situations, when at payment counter I realize, either I forgot the purse or there is not enough money in it. Something unforgettable and unforgivable by any self-respecting wife. And what if such situations are repetitive.

It is also quite common, if I put something in my pocket, Mr Murphy points his ridiculous Murphy’s law at poor me, and so I would find that thing only after several dry searches, checking even that pocket several times. Luckily that day I was alone, if Jaishree would have been with me, I would have been grilled for long, even after the entrance, adding frustrations to the embarrassment.

Padmini Palace, Chittorgarh

The entrance to the Padmini Palace complex is flanked by the patches of rose garden. Rusty stairs go to the first floor guest-room where even today a plain mirror is hung to indicate how Alauddin got the glimpse of Maharani Padmini. The mirror appears so old and rusted as if it remained there from that time only. From the window of this room one can look at the white color Padmini Palace that stand in a moat. It is believed that this water body was a Lotus pond. In-fact the Padmini Palace was the first one to be built inside a small water lake that also led to the architectural designs of other island palaces like the famous Lake-Palace of Udaipur. No doubt, this Palace must have been a romantic place in its day of glory.

Padmini Palace from the guest room

The history of this palace goes back to the thirteenth century. Maharana Ratansen was ruling Mewar. One day his trusted scholar and astrologer Raghadev deceived him. When Maharana learned that he was cheated by Raghavdev, he was furious. He ordered, “Smear cow dung on Raghavdev’s face, parade him in public on a donkey, wearing a garland of shoes. The liar deserves such a procession and after the procession throw him out of Chittor. He has no place to live in Chittor.”

Raghavdev was punished and thrown out of Chittorgarh as per Maharana’s order. After sometime Maharana forgot about the incident, but the same was not true with Raghavdev. He was burning with an ardent desire of revenge. It is rightly said by Giovannio Guareschi, an Italian Journalist, “A man who offers an insult writes it in sand, but for the man who receives it, it’s chiseled in bronze.”

Raghavdev moved from Chittorgarh into services of the Sultan of Delhi, Sultan Alauddin Khilji. Raghavdev was a learned man, he soon rose in ranks and became Sultan’s trusted courtier. One day he got an opportunity to tempt Alauddin that his harem was incomplete without the queen of Chittor, Rani Padmini.

Padmini Palace, Chittorgarh

Curious about Maharani’s beauty, the lust-blinded Sultan ordered his army to attack Chittor. The army siege the fort for around seven months, but the determined Rajputs did not allow him to gain access. Alauddin sensed his army’s growing restlessness and a desire to return. In his last attempt, he decided to trick the Maharana. He sent a messenger for a peace treaty. In his message Alauddin proclaimed the realization of his mistake and a desire to end the siege. He further added, as he got his good senses back he wanted to meet sister Padmini and to apologize. In case this meeting was not possible he would be contented even with a glimpse of her, which would convince him that Maharani has personally forgiven him for his misadventure.

The Rajputs were not convinced about the intentions of turncoat Alauddin. However, they were also tired of the siege and were looking forward to its end. They replied that meeting Maharani would not be possible but to avoid rubbing him the wrong way, they agreed that he could get a glimpse of her from a mirror of the guest room, showing her reflections in the pond surrounding her palace. Alauddin agreed to it.

Picture2

On his arrival in the fort, Alauddin won Maharana’s confidence with his sweet talks and expensive gifts. When Alauddin’s evil eyes briefly saw the reflections of Maharani he was convinced that Raghavdev was right and his desperation to own her increased. What he saw before him was,

है अक्स आईने में रूखे लाजवाब का
पानी में फूल तैर रहा है गुलाब का |

When Alauddin was leaving, Maharana personally escorted him to the gate of the fort, expressing warmth. In all this talks of friendship he became a little careless. After wishing good-bye to Sultan as he turned he was surrounded and captured by Sultan’s special force.

A message was drafted and sent to the court of Chittor. If Maharani wanted her husband to be alive, she had to surrender and marry Alauddin. The deceit and the subsequent derogatory message made Rajputs furious. They decided to pay Alauddin back in his own coin. A reply was drafted, “Maharani is ready to surrender with five hundred of her trusted maids. She will come to meet Sultan in his tent but before meeting him she will like to meet Maharana in private to express her helplessness and to seek his blessings. And, to protect the modesty of Maharani and the accompanying maids, palanquins carrying them must not be searched.”

Inside Raja Ratansen Palace

Promiscuous Alauddin promptly agreed to the conditions. The next day palanquins arrived and were taken to the tent where Maharana was imprisoned. Maharana was aghast at the thought of Padmini agreeing to Sultan’s ill wishes. As Maharani’s palanquins was brought inside he closed his eyes with disgust.

In sudden trojan war kind of twist, Padmini’s uncle and nephew Gora and Badal jumped out of it. They freed Maharana. Badal and Maharana rushed to the fort on horses. Gora decided to give them cover with accompanying maids who were actually five hundred fearless Rajputs. Gora and all the Rajputs were killed but mission Maharaja was successful as he safely reached the fort.

It was time for the final battle. The defeat was certain. However, as General George Hoover had once noted, “Real battles are fought not for power, money, or land acquisitions. They are fought for self-esteem and pride.” At night Maharani Padmini led thousand of Rajput ladies into the sacred pyre of Jauhar. Next day, the fort gates were opened and an army of seven thousand saffron-clad Rajputs rushed for the final battle. This small band of Rajput army was no match to Sultan’s massive garrison and the battle was over soon.

When lascivious Alauddin entered the fort the stench of burnt human bodies and smoldering ashes of death greeted him. His victory turned sour.

View of Vijay Stambh from Padmini Palace

View of Vijay Stambh from Padmini Palace

The fire of sacred pyre left a permanent mark of halo around Maharani Padmini’s memory. Several noted historians, however, have raised doubts about her being a real person and not a fictional character created, popularized and immortalized by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in his epic Padmavat. Further explorations though have confirmed the existence of Maharani Padmini during that period. In my opinion, such doubts and discussions are inevitable and have to do more with the tradition of oral communication of history and historical events. I let historians to contest, dig, argue, counter-argue and to separate facts from fictions.

For the readers, let me change the tragic and somber mood to something lighter, something filled with an intense desire to live and thrive. Let me share with you the song of the movie ‘Guide’, filmed on gracious Waheeda Rehman. The song is filmed in the fort of Chittorgarh and the Padmini Palace can also be seen in the backdrop.

Loved this Joie de Vivre.
At the Padmini Palace, I too had a last look at it and try to imagine its beauty with a lotus pond around it. There are many neglected water bodies inside the fort with stinking water. I wish they were clean and well-kept. I believe that pristine water bodies will further enhance the beauty of this fort and attract more tourists.

Padmini Palace

I had been busy like a bird-dog ever since I entered the fort. After visiting these most important buildings of the fort, I slowed down and moved ahead aimlessly enjoying the human, animal and avian life of the fort. I still had around an hour and a half for covering the remaining part of the fort.

Picture7

My visit to the fort is not yet complete. I think (hopefully!), I would be able to complete it in the third part of this series. And it all has to do with my passion to share in detail the historical stories associated with this fort. Thanks for remaining with me, and listening these stories 🙂

Series Navigation<< The Legend of Maharani Karnavati and HumayunSome more Chittorgarh: the last ninety minutes >>


Comments

  1. Pingback: Some more Chittorgarh: the last ninety minutes – Manish Jaishree

  2. Anupam Chakraborty

    September 26, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    No no, I was absolutely fine in that mood. I forgot for a moment that I was reading a travelogue. Maharani Padmini’s story was so prominent and the way it is presented held me up that long.

    How I arrive to your this log? Actually while reading a recently published story of Jaishree at Ghumakkar I noticed the site address and thus arrived here.

    Now coming back to the post….. It is really a beautiful post I read after a long time. 2-3 Photographs I liked the most and one of them is the last one and also one in the middle. Now if I can please draw your attention to some of your site related matters, they are:-

    (1) When I started reading the post I saw a white window just below the Title. The window, I suppose, is attracting readers to some other stories. You may consider to put it some other place so that readers may go into the story without any distraction.

    (2) If you consider to caption the photos it will help the readers to match the same with the story

    (3) Lastly, all the Photos are not aligned in straight line, say all are not aligned left properly, at least they are not showing like that.

    I hope you will not mind about my writing the observations. I wrote the above because I loved the story so much 🙂 and I am liked that only 🙂

    Hope I will come back again to this site, whenever my time permits. By the way I am a regular reader at Ghumakkar.com and sometime I write there to 🙂

    Thanks and regards
    Anupam Chakraborty


  3. Manish Khamesra

    September 26, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Hello Anupam

    It is a pleasure to read your detailed comment. Thanks for the same 🙂

    Somehow, the comment went into spam and just now while I was cleaning the spam I found it out. I am sorry that you could not see it immediately.

    Thanks also for writing in detail the shortcomings that you noticed. Actually the white-window you noticed perhaps appears as a blue-window in my browser, and it is on the side, lying quietly waiting for the reader to click on it.

    After reading your comment, Jaishree too suggested that I must captions on all. I will try from now-onwards.

    I also noticed that the pix are not aligned, esp the one with captions and without captions appear differently, I tried but could not fix it.

    Please bear it Anupam.

    I used to be a regular reader and writer at Ghumakkar but now I find myself extremely short of time. Probably I am trying to do too many things.

    Thanks again Anupam, your encouraging words are motivating.


    • Anupam Chakraborty

      September 27, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks for the reply. Great that you are trying so many things. You may also consider to post your stories from here to Ghumakkar 🙂 Am I advertising for Ghumakkar? he he

      Regards
      Anupam


      • Manish Khamesra

        September 27, 2014 at 1:57 pm

        🙂

        Ghumakkar is not an alien name to me. And Nandan is a very good friend. There was a time when I was among the top authors (even today I am probably among top 15). In-fact ghumakkar only encouraged me to share my travel itineraries.

        Not only that if you look at any initial story you will find my comments there. So, in-fact there was a time I read each story and shared my thoughts. I am lucky as I got the love and regard of the fellow ghumakkars as well.

        The stories I am currently posting are the ones I wrote at Ghumakkar first. I am reviewing them, re-drafting them and posting them here.

        I wish you all the best. May the forum helps you to find an author in you, help you to generate a Great recall value to your posts and travels.
        Thanks Anupam once more 🙂


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