The birth-palace of Maharana Pratap, Kumbhalgarh fort is revered in all of Mewar (a region in Rajasthan) and is part of the hill forts of Rajasthan which together are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
I visited Kumbhalgarh as a day-trip from Udaipur (one-way is approx. 95 kms). This is by-far the most popular itinerary for the Kumbhalgarh. One can also take a train to Falna and drive to the fort. Alternatively, if one has the time and money to splurge on exotic choice of accommodation which Kumbhalgarh offers, a night’s stay here is highly recommended, especially as the unparalleled views of Kumbhalgarh fort post sun-down are supposedly amazing!.
We left Udaipur post breakfast and first visited the Jain temples of Ranakpur.
Thereafter, we had an outdoorsy lunch at Aranyawas,a rustic mountain resort.
The resort is peaceful and offers travellers a choice of lunch buffet or al-a-carte.
We opted for a light meal of dal-rice and masala chaas while sitting under the shade of trees and enjoying the mountain views and chirping of birds.
We then drove down to Kumbalgarh through small villages and on really bad roads! The landscape was arid even in March. I wonder how hot this area would be in scorching Indian summer!
After an hour and half, we came upon a blind-turn on the road, beyond the turn we got our first glimpse of the majestic Kumbhalgarh Fort, perched atop a hill. It truly looked like a phoenix, reborn in the arid Mewar!
We entered the fort through Hanuman Pol after paying an entry fee of INR 10 (fee for foreigners is about INR 250).
|Outside Hanuman Pol|
We decided against a guide and I don’t recall if there were audio guides available at the entrance, however, I had heard a lot about the light and sound show. Overall, I did feel like inspite of the Fort being a UNESCO site, there was little or no information/ sign boards about history of the Fort; definitely something for Archaeological Survey of India to consider.
Kumbalgarh Fort was built by Rana Kumbha in 1400 AD. It is architecturally unique fort.
The fort offers 360 degree panoramic views of Mewar and Marwar. Historically, the location acted as a vantage point to pre-empt an attack. Apparently, this fort has been captured just once due to water shortage.
As you may note from the photos, the fort is surrounded by thick wall running over 38 kms.
The perimeter of this fortification holds watch towers and 7 pols (i.e. gates/ entrances) and is supposedly the longest wall after Great wall of China! Well, I dream of visiting China one day and photograph the Great Wall of China, the only wall visible from moon. In the meantime I was happy to visit Kumbalgarh Fort.
Incidentally, Kumbhalgarh also houses a sanctuary and offers day trips to tourists. The wildlife spotting, from what I have heard, is not grand, but the landscape is beautiful. We skipped this sanctuary altogether and only decided to explore the main areas of the fort!
We explored the Shiva temple and the neighbouring Jain temple. The seating for light and sound show was in the temple vicinity.
Thereafter, we began ascending the fort through the winding rock levelled path.
The pathway lead us through several gates and beyond the horse stables to the main Palace complex.
As we went higher, the view got stunning. We could clearly see the boundary of Kumbhalgarh fort extending for miles.
Within the fort we could see several temples and settlements in distance.
The Palace at the top houses a Ma Durga temple, queen’s quarters and the summit is the Badal Mahal, which is also the highest point of the fort.
Badal Mahal, not only is this spot super windy, it is also the best viewing point.
The architecture of the Palace is not awe inspiring, but it’s well preserved. In fact, one whole section of the Palace was closed for renovation, including the room where Maharana Pratap was born.
I also found some architecture elements rather interesting, especially the lattice cut windows, the doors and the door knobs.
We enjoyed the breeze on top of Badal Mahal and the brilliant views before finally descending.
|Awesome view from Badal Mahal|
We ended our visit here with unexpectedly yummy poha and unexpectedly bad tea at the refreshment joints within the Fort complex. We paid heed to advise of our driver and localites and did not wait for the light and sounds show.
Our drive back to Udaipur was through areas inhabited largely by the Bhil tribe, best known for their skills with bow and arrow and ofcourse, for being notorious. It was also a day before holi and the roads were bound to be blocked due to Holika Dahan. By then it was almost sun-down.
The drive back was fairly peaceful, tough I was scared. I kept on picturing an arrow shot by a skilled bhil tribesman graze the windscreen of our car or puncturing our car tire to loot us. The seed of all these thoughts was our driver, who perhaps did this to keep us entertained. It was only once we reached Udaipur that he informed us that the tribe never harm tourists vehicles registered in Udaipur! *Epic*