Chittor Fort - Bravery and Sacrifice

I was ploughing through my albums today and stumbled upon a trove of pictures from my trips to the desert state of Rajasthan in 2005. Jaipur and Udaipur are undoubtedly the most visited and most popular amongst the travelers from abroad. Chittorgarh is given a pass because it does not fall on the main tourist circuit. They do not know what they missed and here is my attempt to share those moments with you.

The fort, ruled by Rajputs, is situated over a hill overlooking the town and the farm lands. All attractions are within the fort which is spread over 700 acres.

In 1303 AD, after hearing about queen Padmini's beauty, Alauddin Khilji invaded the fort in an attempt to capture her and bring to his harem. Upon reaching Chittor, he found the fort was impenetrable. Khilji then requested king Ratansen to meet her. The unsuspecting king after persuading queen Padmini permitted Khilji to see the reflection of queen Padmini in the water. That event eventually led Khilji to lay siege on the fort for not surrendering the queen to him. Later, after several months of siege, while the king's men opened fort gates to fight a losing battle, the queen along with other women in the palace committed self immolation instead of losing their honor to the invaders. These Rajput women have sacrificed themselves not once but thrice during the course of history of this fort.

Following are the pictures of her palace amid a lotus pool which was a trendsetter for other water palaces built later in Jaipur and Udaipur.

The rulers of Rajasthan were quite obsessive about imported glass from Belgium. You can see the Belgian glass ornament in the picture below adorning the spire of this structure.

Tower of Victory was built to commemorate the victory of the Rajputs over Muslim rulers in 1440 AD. The lattice work in stone on the top storey of the tower reminds of the quilt block patterns that I often see.

Tower of Fame (seen from Tower of Victory) was built by a Jain merchant dedicated to Adinatha, the first of the 24 enlightened spiritual role models.

Some of the temples within the fort:

In my next posts I will share the pictures and stories from Udaipur and Jaipur.

Wishing you all a great week ahead.

~ Kalyan


melon dessert

A big bowl of fruit dribbling with minty sweet droplets is just the oasis to revive the senses on these swelteringly hot humid days…


…crunch of the water melon, supple sweetness of honey dew, heady scent of a cantaloupe render into scoops of summer moods, in this deliciously chilled lemony dessert.

The recipe was given in an issue of Good housekeeping when it first started to come out in India, few years ago. Since then we've been making this at least once in the hot season. They suggest cutting the melons into bite sized cubes... I usually scoop the fruit with a melon baller to make it more fun. Either way, they melt in the mouth just as quickly as a crisp fruity sorbet :`)

It was originally meant for garden parties, so large quantities were given for the melons. I’ll write them at the bottom of this post.

Here I’m changing the quantities to the way I make at home. Feel free to use your favorite fruit more than others.

Water melon - 1 small
Cantaloupe or musk melon - 1 small
Honey dew melon - 1 small

for syrup (makes about 1 1/2 cups)
Water - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Mint - 2 cups (coarsely chopped with stems)
Lime/lemon juice - ¼ cup
Lime/lemon zest - 2 tsp

Let sugar dissolve in water completely on med-low heat and then bring it to a boil. This prevents crystallization and the syrup is smooth.
Boil for 5 min. or until syrup thickens slightly. Don't wait until the syrup is ready to form soft balls.

Remove from heat and stir in mint.
Let it cool and refrigerate for about 2 hrs to chill.

Sieve syrup, gently pressing with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
Stir in lime zest and lime juice. Adjust the juice according to the tartness you like.

~You can refrigerate the syrup for up to a week although I've noticed that the flavors were not as intense as when it was fresh.

preparing fruit

Cut the melons into bite size pieces or scoop out with a small melon baller.
Discard seeds.

For scooping, cut the melons in half so that the juices will remain in the half-melon during the process.
To get nice rounds, dig the melon baller into the fruit and twist & rotate it 360 deg. The uneven edges will smooth out.

Cover and refrigerate the fruit for a couple of hours or until you need.

Toss fruit with as much syrup as you like before serving.

~If you prep the fruit the day before, melon water seem to collect in the bowl in the meantime. Remove some of this water just before adding the syrup, so that the flavors won’t get diluted.

~A round measuring spoon works as good as a melon baller.

The following quantities are for 30 servings as per the recipe.

Water melon - 1 small or ½ of large (about 4 ½ kg); Honey dew melon - 1 large (2 1/2 kg); Cantaloupes or musk melons - 2 medium (about 1 1/3 kg each)

~ A kilogram (kg) is about 2 pounds & 3 ounces.

Stay cool ( ' u ' )