June 22, 2013

0691 INDIA (Rajasthan) - Vijay Stambha in Chittorgarh Fort - part of Hill Forts of Rajasthan (UNESCO WHS)

0691 Vijay Stambha in Chittorgarh Fort

The site Hill Forts of Rajasthan includes six majestic forts Chittorgarh Fort, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Ranthambore Fort, Gagron Fort, Amber Fort, Jaisalmer Fort. The ecclectic architecture of the forts, some up to 20km in circumference, bears testimony to the power of the Rajput princely states that flourished in the region from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Enclosed within defensive walls are major urban centres, palaces, trading centres and other buildings including temples that often predate the fortifications within which developed an elaborate courtly culture that supported learning, music and the arts.

Some of the urban centres enclosed in the fortifications have survived, as have many of the site's temples and other sacred buildings. The forts use the natural defenses offered by the landscape: hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests. They also feature extensive water harvesting structures, largely still in use today. The Hill Forts of Rajasthan exhibit an important interchange of Princely Rajput ideologies in fort planning, art and architecture from the early medieval to late medieval period, within the varied physiographic and cultural zones of Rajasthan.

Chittorgarh Fort, sprawling on a 180m high hill, located on the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River, in the southern part of Rajasthan, is the largest fort in India. Built by the Mauryans during the 7th century AD, it was the capital of Mewar for 834 years, being ruled initially by Guhilot and later by Sisodias, the Suryavanshi clans of Chattari Rajputs. It was finally abandoned in 1568 after the siege of Emperor Akbar. In 1616, Jehangir returned in Chittor fort, but however it wasn't resettled, being refurbished only in 1905 during British Raj.

The fort is approached through a zig zag and difficult ascent of more than 1km from the plains, after crossing over a bridge spans the Gambhiri River, supported by ten arches. The plethora of palaces and temples (many of them in ruins) located within its precincts, is dominated by two tall towers, Kirti Stambha (Tower of Fame - 22m), and Vijay Stambha (Tower of Victory - 37.2m). The second one, erected by Rana Kumbha between 1458 and 1468 to commemorate his victory over Mahmud Shah I Khalji, the Sultan of Malwa, in 1440 AD, was dedicated to Vishnu.

Built partly of red sand stone and partly of white marble, it has nine stories accessed through a narrow circular staircase. The entire tower is covered with architectural ornaments and inscribed images of Hindu gods and goddesses, seasons, weapons, musical instruments, etc. Actually its sculpture is a veritable text-book of Hindu iconography. The dome, which was a later addition, was damaged by lightning and repaired during the 19th century. The Stamba is now illuminated during the evenings and gives a beautiful view of Chittor from the top.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of a serie named Princely State, issued on Octomber 6, 2010. The four stamps of the series (all with the same face value, 5 IND) are:
• Indore - it's on this postcard
• Sirmmor
• Bamra
• Cochin

The second stamp is part of a commemorative series of four, issued on March 8, 2007, with the occasion of the Women's Day.

References
Chittorgarh Fort - Wikipedia
Vijay Stambha - Wikipedia
Hill Forts of Rajasthan - UNESCO official website


Sender: Sita / Seetas (postcrossing)
Sent from Mumbai (Maharashtra / India), on 21.12.2011
Photo: Ravinder Pal Kalra

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