You may have heard the stories of great kings, battles, victories, and even defeats. But have you ever heard of the great lands on which history has repeatedly created? No right? Land of significant historical, cultural and traditional importance, India is the nurturer of such places, i.e. monuments, forts, architectural sites of social significance, and much more. Let us take you on a journey of one such hidden gem of India, ‘The Great Wall,’ Kumbhalgarh Fort, and know about its fascinating tales and delve into the lust of this architectural wonder.
Kumbhalgarh Fort – The Great Wall of India
Kumbhalgarh in the Rajsamand district, near Udaipur, is a stunning citadel and a prominent tourist attraction perched in the foothills of the Aravalli Mountain Range. The fort attracts visitors due to its pure position and architectural magnificence, surrounded by lush forests. Its 36-kilometre-long external wall, after China’s Great Wall, is the world’s second-longest wall.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the category Hill Forts of Rajasthan, occupied until the late 19th century. In the 15th century, Rana Kumbha established the fort that today is one of the world’s largest fort complexes; and India’s second-largest fort after Chittor Fort.
The fort’s original name was Machhindrapur. But Sahib Haqim, a historian later named it, Mahore. Earlier, King Samprati of the Maurya Age in the 6th century is thought to have built the fort because of its strategic importance. However, the fort became unimportant during the 1303 AD to the invasion of Alauddin Khilji. Therefore the history of the fort remains hazy.
Rana Kumbha, the Rana of Mewar from the Sisodia Rajput clan, devised Kumbhalgarh in its current shape, enlisting the help of a famous architect, “Madan.” The span of Rana Kumbha’s Mewar dominion was from Ranthambore to Gwalior; thus, encompassing huge swaths of modern-day Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. During his reign, the place saw the construction of 32 forts, the greatest and most elaborate of which is “The Kumbhalgarh Fort.”
Kumbhalgarh today, is also the place where prince Udai was trafficked in 1535. This incident is of the siege of Chittaur. Prince Udai, who subsequently succeeded to the throne, was also the creator of the city of Udaipur. Kumbhalgarh also gave birth to Maharana Pratap. When Akbar was gone in Lahore, After the Mughal victory at the Battle of Haldighati, Shahbaz Khan, Akbar’s general, took control of the fort on Man Singh I’s orders in 1576. Pratap, with the use of guerilla warfare, retook the city in 1585.
In 1818, an armed band of sanyasis formed a garrison to defend the fort, but James Tod urged them to surrender, and the fort was eventually taken over by the British and returned to the state of Udaipur. The structure was added to by the Maharanas of Mewar, but Maharana Kumbha’s original structure still survives. The preservation of temples and residential structures has been meticulously taken care of.
The architecture of the Kumbhalgarh Fort
Built on a mountaintop 1,100 metres (3,600 feet) above sea level in the Aravalli range and witnessing several wars, the Hill serves as an impenetrable barrier to the fort. A 15- Kilometer-long wall surrounds The Kumbhalgarh Fort that is both beautiful and thick. The wall, which has seven huge gates, is Asia’s second-largest and is around 15 to 25 feet wide. According to a legend, eight horses could ride side by side on it during ancient times. The Kumbhalgarh Fort’s wall goes through the Aravalis’ mountain cliffs, and it is the best example of outstanding Rajput design and style in Rajasthan.
All around the fort of Kumbhalgarh, there are 13 mountain peaks in total with 7 massive gates defending them and massive watchtowers bolstering in support. The Badal Mahal Palace is located on the fort’s highest point. The palace contains lovely chambers and is painted in green, white, and turquoise, giving a fascinating contrast to the fortress’s harsh and bleak appearance that boasts the birth of Maharana Pratap, the renowned warrior of Mewar.
The interior of Kumbhalgarh fort
There are over 300 ancient Jain temples and several Hindu Temples within the fort, as well as the Lakhola Tank, which is the most notable tank within the fort and was built by Rana Lakha. The construction of these temples in the fort demonstrates the monarchs’ religious tolerance and their way of patronizing and supporting the Jain culture throughout the realm. From the palace top, it is also possible to see kilometres into the Aravalli Range as well as the dunes of the Thar Desert are visible from the fort walls.
In the 19th century, Rana Fateh Singh of Mewar took the bold step of enlarging the fort, and he was quite successful. The massive fort complex has ancient relics that travelers can investigate thoroughly. People can also arrange to spend an evening strolling through Udaipur’s Kumbhalgarh Fort. A trip around the Kumbhalgarh Fort can be quite educational due to the ruins that are there within the fort’s huge compound.
Things to do in Kumbhalgarh
As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Kumbhalgarh fort, as well as the place, has a lot to offer to its tourists and people who are keen to know about the place. Here is the list of some of the few things visitors can enjoy in and around the fort: –
- The fort tour – This has to be the most obvious and crucial of all the things to do in Kumbhalgarh! Begin climbing from the main entrance or Ram pole to the fort’s highest point, the Badal Mahal. To gain a better knowledge of Kumbhalgarh’s rich history, hiring a guide is a must. This will help you with a better understanding of the architectural significance of several sections within the fort. There is a division of Badal Mahal, or main Kumbhalgarh Palace, which sits atop Kumbhalgarh, into two sections: Zanana and Mardana, each with its style of stone carvings, walls, and windows. You will experience a spectacular view of the Aravali hills, the Thar Desert, and the Kumbhalgarh fort wall from the dome here.
- Temple Darshan – Several temples within the fort premises will amaze you. For example, the Neelkanth Mahadeo Temple is the most popular in the area, with a 6-foot-tall stone Shivlinga. The Mammadev Temple is the Kuber temple, which is located beneath the Kumbhalgarh fort. There are also two cenotaphs in memory of Rana Kumbha and Prithviraj Chauhan. There is a one-of-a-kind temple, Muchchal Mahavir Temple within the Kumbhalgarh sanctuary, with a figure of Lord Mahavira sporting a moustache.
- Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary – The Kumbhalgarh wildlife sanctuary is the most fascinating of all the attractions to see in Kumbhalgarh for tourists. Many uncommon bird species are visible here along with panthers, Nilgais and sloth bears. Many locations surrounding the fort provide the famous ‘Kumbhalgarh Safari.’
- The light and sound show – This is not a daily show, and you must inquire about the performance’s dates and times ahead of time. If you’re staying around Kumbhalgarh for the night, see if you can catch this show.
- Places near Kumbhalgarh – You can opt for a visit to Ranakpur, famous for Jain temples, the place is just 34 km away from Kumbhalgarh. Haldighati is also the place for you since it is the crucial entry to the battlefield where, on June 18, 1576, a conflict was fought between Maharana Pratap’s forces and Akbar’s men. The main attraction here is the popular Shrinathji temple, in the town of Nathdwara.
You may also be interested to read about: Hawa Mahal- history, facts and architecture
How to reach Kumbhalgarh Fort
There is no airport or railway station in Kumbhalgarh. Falna railway station is the closest station, and Udaipur airport is the closest airport. Both cities are well connected to Delhi, Jaipur, and Jodhpur, among other places. Tourists can travel to Kumbhalgarh by cab from Udaipur or Falna.
The fort of Kumbhalgarh is located in the Rajsamand district, which does not have direct air connectivity. The nearest airport is Dabok near Udaipur and is around 85 kilometres from Kumbhalgarh. Tourists can hire taxis to get to Kumbhalgarh after arriving in Dabok.
The nearest railway stations are Udaipur and Falna, which are 85 and 80 kilometres away from Kumbhalgarh, respectively. To get to Kumbhalgarh, tourists can hire a taxi or take a bus.
Although Kumbhalgarh lacks its bus station, buses from neighbouring cities stop here. One can reach Kumbhalgarh through a bus from Udaipur, Falna, Ajmer, Jodhpur, and Pushkar.
Other Information about Kumbhalgarh Fort
Best time to visit Kumbhalgarh
During the summertime, Kumbhalgarh has a hot and dry climate, making travel difficult. Winter (October to February) is the best time to visit because the weather is pleasant for sightseeing and the possibilities of seeing wild creatures in the wildlife sanctuary are excellent. Because Kumbhalgarh’s lush green flora is a natural wonder in Rajasthan’s desert state, visitors can even visit during the rainy season, when the monsoon showers sprinkle their wonderful charm over the dense foliage, making the area shimmer with greenery.
Timings and entry fees of the fort
The Kumbhalgarh Fort is open from 9 am to 6 pm on all days of the week, throughout the year. While the entry fee for Indian visitors is INR 10, for foreign tourists it is 100 INR. In case you intend to take a video camera with you to capture the captivating views, it costs an extra INR 25 for the video camera.
Kumbhalgarh Fort is without a doubt one of the best in Rajasthan, if not the world, so one should visit the place at least once in one’s lifetime. So, if you’re planning a trip to Rajasthan to see this beautiful wonder, as well as many others, book a Rajasthan Tour right away and experience a hassle-free tour to this royal state.