The First Siege of Chittorgarh





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The First Siege of Chittorgarh

To the ruler of Northern India the importance of Rajasthan was great. The key to Rajasthan was Mewar whose capital Chittorgarh was the sanctuary of Rajput freedom. Legend and history are equally eloquent in praising the grandeur and strength of the historic fortress of Chittorgarh.

In 1301, Alauddin conquered Ranthambore , which was located between Delhi and Chittor. The same year, Rana Ratan Singh ascended the throne of Chittor. On January 29, 1303, the Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji set out on his memorable campaign for the conquest of Chittor. The Rajputs under Raja Ratan Singh offered heroic resistance for about seven months and then, after the women had perished in the flames of jauhar, the fort surrendered on August 26, 1303. Thirty thousand Rajputs were put to the sword.

Motive of attack on Chittor

There is conflict among historians as to why Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittorgarh.

Claims of Rajputana Chronicles 

The episode of Padmini has received a great deal of prominence in connection with Alauddin’s conquest of Chittor. The bardic chronicles of Rajputana represent the invasion of Chitor as solely due to the Sultan’s desire to get possession of Padmini, the beautiful queen of Rana Ratan Singh of Chittor, and they have woven round it a long tale of romance, heroism and treachery. Later writers like, Abu-1 Fazl, Haji-ud-Dabir,Firishta, and Nensi have accepted the story.[ref]

Claims of Modern Historians

Many modern writers are inclined to reject the claims of Rajputana Chronicles altogether. They point out that the episode of Padmmi is not referred to by any contemporary writer, and is first mentioned by Malik Muhammad Jaisi in A.D. 1540 in his Padmdvat, which is a romance rather than a historical work; further, the later writers, mentioned above, who reproduce the story with varying details, flourished long after the event and differ from one another on essential points.[ref]

On the other hand, Professor Habib believes that there is a covert allusion to the Padminl episode by Amir Khusrav, a contemporary, in his Khazain-ul-Futuh, when he mentions the Queen of Sheba (Saba’). It has also been argued that the invasion of Chitor, one of the strongest fortresses of Rajputana, was the natural corollary to the expansionist policy of Alauddin, and no Padmini was needed for his casus belli. [ref]

As against this it should be remembered that Alauddin’s lust for a Hindu queen is proved by the known instances of Queen Kamala Devi of Gujarat and the daughter of King Ramachandra of Devagiri. It is to be remembered also, that Abu’l Fazl definitely says that he gives the story of Padmini from “ancient chronicles”, which cannot obviously refer to the Padmdvat, an almost contemporary work.[ref]


On the whole, it must be admitted that there is no inherent impossibility in the kernel of the story of Padmini devoid of all embellishments, and it should not be totally rejected off-hand as a myth. But it is impossible, at the present state of our knowledge, to regard it definitely as a historical fact.

The Siege

On arrival at Chitor, Alauddin Khilji surrounded the town and raised his canopy on a hillock known as Chittor. He then besieged the fort with a strong army, but received strong resistance from the Rajputs under Ranli Ratan Singh. No impression was made on the fortress by the attacks of catapults and ballistae, nor could it be scaled by ladders.The Rajputs offered heroic resistance for about seven months and then, after the women had perished in the flames of jauhar (mass self-immolation), the fort surrendered on August 26, 1303. Thirty thousand Rajputs were put to the sword.

According to the Rajput sources Ratan Singh was among the slain on the battlefield, while Muslim chroniclers, Amir Kliusrav and Tsami, state that the Rana of Chittor survived the battle and his life was spared by the king. Ratan Singh, however, is heard of no more after the fall of Chittor.[ref]


Alauddin remained at Chitor for some days, and during this period many temples were destroyed and the population became victims of the fury of his soldiery. He returned to Delhi, after having appointed Khizr Khan to the government of Chitor. The Khiljis could not, however, long hold Chitor in the face of constant and stubborn resistance of the Rajputs. Khizr Khan abandoned it in 1311-12, and then Maladeva, brother of the chief of Jalor, ruled it as a tributary to the king of Delhi. But during his son’s rule, Hamir, Rana of Sisodia, took possession of Chitor and the whole of Mewar (about A.D. 1325).[ref]



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