Chittorgarh Fort, India
© Anand Purohit/Getty Image
Today, a nation was born. Indian Independence Day
At 12.8 kilometres in circumference, the Chittorgarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India, a nation with scores of ancient and medieval fortresses. For starters there are seven massive gates from which to enter. Inside you’ll find four palaces and 19 temples. At one time there were almost 100 bodies of water, most of them ponds fed by natural catchment and rainfall, although now there are only 20. Chittorgarh (‘garh’ means ‘fort,’ so it’s also known as Chittor Fort) is so old, no one is sure exactly when it was built, although reports of its earliest capture go back to the 8th century. It is one of a cluster of six large forts in the northwestern state of Rajasthan referred to as the Hill Forts of Rajasthan, all of them collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’re featuring this important and ancient complex on India’s 75th Independence Day, one of India’s three national holidays.
On August 15, 1947, India officially broke free of Great Britain and became a sovereign and democratic nation with the speedy passage of the Indian Independence Act. The paperwork might have been fast, but the struggle for independence from British rule lasted 90 years and cost many Indian lives. The British controlled the Indian subcontinent for nearly 200 years, after winning the decisive Battle of Plassey in 1757. The victory allowed the English East India Company to eventually exercise control over most of the rest of the Indian subcontinent, Burma, and Afghanistan. East India remained the supreme authority in India for a century until 1857 when a massive rebellion by civilians and Indian soldiers against the company was suppressed, resulting in direct British rule, referred to as the British Raj.
The ensuing decades saw the formation of the Indian National Congress, the rise of Indian nationalism, various armed rebellions, and many acts of civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi and others, before independence was finally achieved. While India as we know it is still a very young nation, the Chittor Fort reminds us that the land and people that created modern India have endured and thrived for millennia.