THE remains represented in this Photograph (XX.) are considerably to the south of most of the other ruins of Chittur, and, from the number of fowl that frequent the lake in which the small palace is situated, they are evidently little visited. They belong to about the thirteenth century, but have undergone some modifications at a later date.
They are interesting, as almost the only relics of the kind left of old Chittur—which was sacked and destroyed by Ala-ud-din in 1303. Lakshman Singh succeeded to the throne of Mewar in 1274, and his uncle Bhimsingh was protector during his minority. Bhim espoused the daughter of Hamir Sank, who was so remarkable for her beauty and accomplishments as to receive the title of Padmanî—a term bestowed only upon the superlatively fair. To obtain possession of her, the Hindu bards allege, Ala-ud-din laid siege to Chittur. After a brave defence,1 when it was found no longer tenable, that horrible rite the Johar was performed. The Rajputnîs, the wives and daughters of the defenders, to the number of several thousands, entered in procession the subterranean chambers of the fort; the fair Padmanî closed the throng, which was augmented by whatever of female beauty or youth could be tainted by Tatar lust; and then they were shut in, to find security from dishonour in the pyre that was lit to devour or suffocate them. The Râ ņâ now "calling around him his devoted clans, for whom life had no longer any charms," dressed in saffron robes, "they threw open the portals and descended to the plain, and with a reckless despair carried death, or met it, in the crowded ranks of Ala. The Tatar conqueror took possession of an inanimate capital, strewed with brave defenders, the smoke yet issuing from the recesses where lay consumed the once fair object of his desire; and since this devoted day the cavern has been sacred."2 It is on the north side of a tank on the west scarp of the hill.
This is the traditional palace of Bhimsi and his fair but unfortunate Padmani.