Chittorgarh or Chittor Fort of Rajasthan in India, is one of the largest and majestic forts in the country. Today, it is a Heritage site and a big tourist attraction, but centuries ago, the fort has witnessed courage, chivalry, sacrifices and fierce battles. The story of Rani Padmavati is from an era when kings, soldiers, women and commoners considered death as a better option than dishonor or surrender to the foreign invading armies.
Rani Padmini or Padmavati was the wife of Raja Ratan Sen of Chittor – a wise and just ruler. Among his courtiers was Raghav Chetan, an exceptional artist and a musician.
But secretly, Raghav Chetan was performing black magic for his own selfish needs! When Raja Ratan Sen heard of this, he banished him from the court and his kingdom. Shame-faced, Raghav Chetan fled to Delhi.
Delhi was then ruled by a powerful king – Alauddin Khilji. Raghav Chetan asked Khilji to attack Chittorgarh. Khilji was not particularly interested to do so. It is now that Raghav used a last bait. He told Khilji about Raja Ratan’s beautiful wife – Rani Padmavati.
Rani Padmavati was an exceptionally beautiful and learned queen from the Singhala kingdom (now Sri Lanka). Khilji sent a message to Chittor asking to meet Ratan Sen along with his family. Rani Padmavati sensed foul play and agreed to greet Khilji, but only through a mirror. Khilji took one look at her and decided he wanted her for himself. As Ratan Sen accompanied Khilji to the entrance to see him off, Khilji’s soldiers kidnapped Ratan Sen and took him to Delhi.
Khilji sent a note to Padmavati informing her to hand over herself to Khilji if she wanted to see her husband alive. Padmavati thought the matter over and agreed with a condition – that she would arrive in Delhi with 700 maids in palanquins for her assistance. Khilji agreed.
When Padmavati, along with her entourage arrived in Delhi, it was not maids, but 700 of Chittor’s best soldiers, fully armed and equipped. Ratan Singh successfully returned to Chittor.
Alauddin Khilji was enraged. He laid siege on Chittor to obtain Padmavati. Many events occurred during the period of the Siege, till the fort was finally taken. Meanwhile, Ratan Sen was killed in a duel with Devpal, the king of Kumbhalner, who was also enamored with Padmavati’s beauty.
When Alauddin Khilji was finally able to capture the fort, there was only Padmavati and her women left. To protect their honor, the women led by queen Padmavati went through a secret passage that was linked from the Chittor Fort to Jauhar Kund and courageously laid down their lives.