Chittrogarh, India

Monday, April 29, 1929

Were up at dawn and were soon on our way up to Fort Chittrogarh. Crossing a flat plain and wading a river brought up to the village at its foot. The sun was not yet up far enough to make the fortified road sunny, so the ascent wasn’t so bad. Passed under seven fine gates and past a number of shrines, etc. As we neared the top we could see two striking white shrines erected to the memory of those women who committed Sati during a siege of the 13th, 14th, or 15th century, don’t recall the date.

The husband’s and wife’s body were believed to be one. Thus, when the husband died and his body burned, the wife often committed Sati, that is she was burned alive with her dead husband on the funeral pyre. In this particular instance, the Rajput who ruled Chitor, where the fort now is, had a beautiful wife. A visiting rajput accidentally caught a glimpse of her in a mirror. He wanted her for his own so besieged the fort. At this time a whole city was enclosed within the walls of the palace, which enclosed a plateau 3½ miles by ½ mile. There were palaces, temples, water tanks, and fields of grain there. Thus the fort withstood a siege of 18 years before it finally fell. But when the defenders were dead and before the enemy arrived, 4,000 of the women committed Sati, went into one of the buildings and set fire to it, all being burned alive.

Often one will see the imprints of hands in vermilion or henna just outside the door of many a house in the city. This shows they, or rather she, has committed Sati.

Now the palaces are in ruins as are most of the temples. Two very striking objects are the Tower of Fame, a much-carved tower 75 feet in height, and the Tower of Victory, 121 feet high and every inch carved. I found the tank and springs near this latter tower, down in an old ruined temple in a ravine. It was absolutely a life-saver for our mouths were worse than dry and I felt like kicking the bucket. About the floor were broken images in stone of gods. We remained here for some time before returning home in the terrific heat. The stony ground, stone ruins, rock walls all seemed to catch the mid-day sun and hurl it up into your face in terrific heat waves. The three miles were plenty hot ones, but at last we dragged in to the Dak Bungalow near the station and had some lunch.

Had to wait at the hot station for the 10:15PM train. At ten we learned that it was three hours late and when it finally did pull in at 2:15, 4 hours late, all due to some track or bridges being washed out by a heavy storm, we fortunately got a place due to the platform master and got more or less, mostly less, sleep on the way to Ajmer.

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