Mystery behind the Jauhar Kund of Chittor
They say no legendary love story has ever had a happy ending. But, what if, the sad end was the only beautiful option left for love and honor?
We all have heard and read about Chittorgarh- the land of unimaginable bravery, where royal consorts followed Queen Padmini and committed ‘Jauhar’.
Growing up I learned about great Indian historical tales of royal Kings and Queens, and how some of them broke all boundaries for sake of love and a few ended up sacrificing their life to be eternally together.
Rani Padmini's bravery
But, the narrative that I am going to share with you isn’t about love, but honor and unmatched sacrifice. The story of Queen Padmini who’s bravery, was beyond any beauty, and sacrifice beyond any love saga.
Awadhi poem on her beauty
Although, there are hardly any textual references that support the existence of Queen Padmini, either in Hinduism or in Rajput tribe, but a famous folklore written by Awadhi poet named Malik Muhammad Jayasi, hints otherwise.
Earlier, not all royals had their memoirs written and so it is assumed that the era of Chittor, too, may have gone without any written remembrance. However, 230-years later after Alauddin Khilji, took over the Chittorgarh, the poem surfaced, singing the praises and great mention of Queen Padmini’s Jauhar.
It is widely known that Queen Padmini or Padmavati (as she was fondly addressed), was born in the Sinhala Kingdom to King Gandharvsena and his chief consort Chmpavati. She was also famous for having and training, a talking parrot named 'Hiramani'.
Rani Padmini's Swayamvar
Her swayamvar was organised, which saw many Kings and Princes claiming their prowess over her rightful ownership, but it wasn’t an ordinary Swayamvar.
There was one condition set out by Princess Padmini, herself; whosoever defeated the designated fighter in the sword battle, could marry her. Unbeknownst to the fact that it was Princess Padmini herself in the disguise of the designated fighter.
Raja Ratan Singh
All, but King Ratan Sing of Chittor defeated her and a result, standing true to her promise, she agreed to marry him. This wasn't an association based on love, but respect and royal words.
Marriage of promise
The entire court was against this decision, including Padmini’s parents, who were aware that Ratan Singh already was married to 14 Princesses. Undeterred and standing true to her royal words, Princess Padmini agreed to be his 15th Consort.
Painter Raghav Chetan
Tales of Padmini’s beauty were not unknown, her quick wit and advice was always in service of her husband, who appreciated her political advises from time to time. Apart from being a noble warrior, Raja Ratan Singh was a great lover of art and had a chief artist, by the name Raghav Chetan, who accompanied in every battle, to draw war scenes.
Banishment of the painter
Apart from painting and sculpting mesmerising beauties, Raghav Chetan, was an evil sorcerer. One day, he was caught red-handed and was presented before King Ratan Sing, who banished him from the Kingdom. Swearing revenge, Raghav Chetan headed to the enemy quarters- Alauddin Khilji’s Sultanate.
Delhi Sultanate Alauddin khilji
Sulking in his humiliation, Raghav Chetan devised a plan to destroy the beauty and bravery of Chittorgarh, in one go. He incited Alauddin Khilji's interest in Queen Padmini’s beauty, by showing him a painting of Rani Padmini, holding a red flower. His greed to have her went to the point, where he was ready to attack Chittor, just to get a glimpse of her. And, so did he.
Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittorgarh, with his giant army and captured Raja Ratan Singh during the battle. He laid one condition for his release, if Rani Padmini would be sent to him. The royal advisors devised a plan and sent army men led by Ratan Singh’s nephew, disguised as honourable royal women in palanquins. By the time, the treachery was realized, Ratan Singh was rescued and safely taken to his fort.
Chittor Army's deceit
This enraged Khilji further, who gathered more army men and ordered a siege on the fort walls, from all sides. Ratan Singh’s army fought bravely, but as they had already lost hundreds of warrior, their defeat was inevitable. Raja Ratan Singh too died fighting along his men.
Women of Chittor
Meanwhile, inside the Chittor fort, Queen Padmini and all the other consorts of Raja Ratan Singh, along with wives of army men and every woman present in the state, walked down the secret tunnel passage linked from Chittor fort into the Jauhar Kund.
They wailed for their men, and san praises of their bravery and together they jumped into the fire it; Queen Padmini was the first one to jump into the Jauhar Kund. Entire palace was echoed by their cries. By the time, Khiliji and his army entered the fort to claim their authority on royal treasure and women; they were welcomed by eerie sounds coming from the Jauhar Kund.
Women of honor
The heat and sounds, coming out from the Jauhar Kund were so fierce that Khiliji ordered to permanently close the tunnel passage. Some hundred years ago, the passage was reopened by then King of Chittor and honoured the brave women, who performed Jauhar.
Haunted places of Chittor fort
Even to this day, the tunnel passage has no lights and it’s quite difficult to walk in dense darkness with low oxygen levels. When I myself, went to explore the city of Chittor, I was mesmerized by the tunnel passage and could imagine, how difficult the journey would have been for those brave women. But, after a point I was unable to continue due to extreme darkness and air pressure. What was even more weird was the eerie silence and strong feeling of heat coming through in the walls.