The conquest of Chittor by Delhi Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji (r: 1296-1316) in 1303 remains a topic of controversy among many. In January of that year, Ala-ud-din Khilji led an army towards Chittor, the capital of Mewar. After a siege of 6-7 months, Chittor finally fell. Rana Ratan Singh (Ratnasimha) submitted to Ala-ud-din. The Sultan then bestowed the government of Chittor on his son Khizr Khan and named it Khizrabad.
There is a legend surrounding Ala-ud-din's invasion of Chittor that has been told in many versions. According to the story, Ala-ud-din conquered the city to obtain possession of Padmini, the beautiful Sri Lankan wife of Rawal Ratan Singh.
Story goes that Ala-ud-din laid siege to Chittor for eight long years before sending a message to the Rana, promising to raise the siege if he could see Padmini through a mirror. The Rana agreed, and Ala-ud-din had a look at her reflection. However, he treacherously made the Rana prisoner and took him to Delhi, demanding the surrender of Padmini for his release. Padmini accepted Ala-ud-din's terms but played a clever trick to release her husband. She sent word to Ala-ud-din that she would come to his camp the next day, attended by her handmaidens. But the palanquins that entered Ala-ud-din's camp were not what they seemed. Rajputs disguised as Padmini and her companions were concealed inside, ready to strike. When the time came for the parting meeting between the Rana and Padmini, the Rajputs sprang from the palanquins and attacked Ala-ud-din's army by surprise. They freed the Rana and took him back to Chittor. Shortly after his arrival in Chittor, Ratan Singh died of wounds received in fighting Devapala of Kumbhalgarh. Meanwhile, Ala-ud-din laid siege to the fort once again and captured it. However, Padmini committed Jauhar, and the Rajput men died fighting.
Ferishta, Haji-ud-Dabir, Abu'l-Fazl and James Tod also tells a similar story about Rani Padmini or Padmavati. However, the truth is that she is not a real person but a character in Malik Muhammad Jayasi's fictional poem Padmavat, compiled around 1540. This work formed the basis for the narrations of Ferishta (around 1612), Haji-ud-Dabir (around 1605), Abul-Fazl, and Tod (1829).
According to Irfan Habib, no medieval historical record alludes to her existence before Jayasi's Padmavat. Amir Khusro, Ala-ud-din's court poet who accompanied him to Chittor, does not mention Padmini or Jauhar. However, Khusro mentions Kamla Devi and narrates the love story of Ala-ud-din's son Khizr Khan and Dewal Devi in his works.
No contemporary historian mentions anything about Padmini. At the end of his work, Jayasi himself says that Padmavati's love story is fictional, and the names of characters are metaphors, according to Ali Nadeem Rezavi.
However, Ala-ud-din Khilji was enamored with Kamla Devi, the queen of Gujarat, from the moment he set his eyes on her amidst the spoils of war captured from Gujarat.
Subsequently, Ala-ud-din transferred the governance of Chittor from Khizr Khan to the nephew of the Rana. This Hindu prince, in a short span of time, restored the principality to its former glory and retained the tract of Chittor as a tributary to Ala-ud-din during the rest of his reign, as recorded by Ferishta. However, in the last year of Ala-ud-din's reign in 1316, during the regency of Malik Kafur, the Rajputs of Chittor expelled the Muslim governors and declared their independence.
Ultimately, it can be concluded that Ala-ud-din Khilji invaded Chittor with the sole intention of expanding his empire.
Litter: palanquin (a vehicle used to transport people; usually for one passenger, containing a bed or couch often covered by curtains and carried on men's shoulders)
Jauhar: is the Self Immolation done by Royal Rajput ladies when the battle is about to lose, rather than surrender and fall to harem of enemies.