Second to The Great Wall of China as the continuous wall in the world, located 98 kms from Udaipur, lies the second-most important fort of the Mewar dynasty and a 15th century masterpiece built by Mewar king, Rana Kumbha – Kumbhalgarh Fort. Being interested in Indian history since school visiting this place was a natural choice when I toured Udaipur. The fort being one of the UNESCO heritage sites was just a bonus.
A Little History About The Fort
Originally settled by a Jain prince, Samprati, in the 2nd century BC, the potential of this site as a strategic fort due to the terrain’s natural outline was comprehended and harnessed by Rana Kumbha. This massive fort was built in a single process, retaining its architectural coherence apart from when the palace of Fateh Singh was added. Nestled in the dry, rugged Aravalli Range, the hostile and inaccessible topography made it impossible for the invaders to capture this mighty fort. The design of this fort is attributed to Rana Kumbh’s architect, Mandan, who was also an author and theorist at his court.
Folklore that's prevalent among the locals on the length of the wall surrounding the fort is awe-inspiring!! Apparently, it was impossible to construct a wall on the rugged terrain, many a kings tried but failed and so did Rana Kumbha. Then a wandering hermit paid him a visit and asked Rana Kumbha to decapitate him and the distance he walks headless will mark the outline of the fort and where his body collapses is where Rana Kumbha should start building the fort. After beheading, the hermit’s body walked headless for 36 kms!!! Fascinating, isn’t it!! Although my scientific mind started questioning the impossible biology behind the headless body walking for 36kms kms while my body gives up after 10, it was something that I couldn’t wrap my head around but left it at that.
Location of the Fort
The fort is located within Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Santuary, two to three hours from Udaipur.
About The Fort
At an elevation of 1100 metres above sea level the fort sits over a sprawling 268 hectares (662 acres)!! Compromising of seven gates or pols, fort palaces and 360 temples within its premises the 36 km long wall snakes over 13 hills.ver
Gateways or Pols
Flanked on both sides by huge doors, at every gateway or pol it was to prevent invading armies.
The main entrance gate flanked by two enormous bastions
The that marks the entrance to the fort in the south where is it believed that the hermit’s body collapsed. From this gate, mirror signals used to be flashed to all other gates in times of emergency.
Hulla Pol or Gate of Disturbance
This is the gate that defines the point where the invading Mughals had reached with their armies in 1567.
This gate comes after Hulla Pol and contains an image of Lord Hanuman brought by Rana Kumbha.
Paghra Pol or Stirrup Gate
The gate where the cavalry used to assemble
Tope Khana Pol or Canon Gate
The gate where it is believed that it had a secret passage
The last gate which has a Chamundi temple beside it, where Prithviraj breathed his last and where Udai Singh was saved by his faithful maid – Panna Dhai
The gate through which you can reach the top.
Kumbhalgarh Fort Palaces
There are three palaces within Kumbhalgarh fort that can be reached by passing the Ganesh and Swami Narayan Temples and through the Pagda Pol, then walking up the slope that leads to all the successive palaces.
Located close to the Pagda Pol, this was Rana Kumbha’s palace and the first one on the way. It is a two-storey building with a king’s blue darbar hall (court) with a corridor separating the men’s palace (mardana) from women’s palace (zanana).
Jhalia ka Malia
Believed to be the place where Maharana Pratap was born, this place is difficult to miss because of the signpost present.
Literally meaning “Palace of Clouds”, it is located as is depicted by its name – right at the top of the fort, on the highest point of Kumbhalgarh. In contrast to the other sections of the for that were built in the 15the century, this part of the palace that was an addition in the 19th century is painted in green, white and turquoise. In this section too, the men’s and women’s section are separated with carved stone windows that would allow the women to see the proceedings without being seen.
Kumbhalgarh Fort Temples
Although the fort complex has 360 temples, only a few are accessible to public. Many are in ruins and the rest have been cordoned off by authorities due to avoid miscreants.
Located at the entrance of the fort, this temple was built during the time of Maharana Kumbha where the great king consecrated the image of Lord Ganesha.
As you enter the fort and before the climb begins you are welcomed by the Vedi temple, one of the most revered places in Kumbhalgarh. A Jain temple, dedicated to Goddess Vedi, the shrine was constructed by Rana Kumbha to honour the sacrifices of the pilgrims who visited this area.
Neelkanth Mahadeo Temple
Made with a single block of kasoti stone, this temple houses the famous 6-feet monolith shivling. A great devotee of Lord Shiva, this temple was renovated by Lord Sanga. As per legends Rana Sanga was so tall that when we sat to offer prayers, his eye would be at the same level as the shivling.
Built by Rana Kumbha, this temple is located below Kumbhalgarh Fort. Earlier the shrine had four slabs, of which one was etched with the history from the period of Guhil, the founder of Mewar, the slabs are now preserved in a museum in Udaipur. This is also the place where Rana Kumbha was killed by his son while he was kneeling in prayer.
Parsvanatha Temple, Bawan Devi Temple, Pitalia Dev Temple
All are Jain temples with the images of different Jain Tirthankaras with intricately carved sculptures of gods, goddesses and celestial dancers.
What Not To Miss
Light and Sound Show At Kumbhalgarh Fort
It is a 40-minute show that starts at 7 pm and ends by 8 pm. It is always better to reach before time to get seats ahead. The grandiose of the fort comes alive at night when it is lit up and ready for the show!
Time Taken To Cover The Fort
You should keep a good three to four hours in hand to look around the accessible sections of the fort. If you are not so keen in knowing about the history of this fort you can take off without a guide. Or if history interests you, then there are guides available at the entrance of the fort who will charge around INR 300 to INR 400 depending on the group size.
P.S. - These days local tour guides have to complete guide training course and successful candidates would be issued Regional Level Tourist Guide Licence by the Regional India Tourism Office(s), Government of India. This licence would be valid for three years. When you hire a guide check his id card which will have Incredible India and MINISTRY OF TOURISM AND CULTURE, GOVERNMENT OF INDIA mentioned along with “Regional Level Approved” stated.
Things to Carry For The Walk Up The Fort
The walk up the fort is steep and hence pretty strenuous so you would need short breaks to energize.
• Carry a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated
• A hat because the sun gets harsh even during winters.
• Good walking shoes
9 am to 6 pm
Weekdays - INR 15 (Indians), INR 200 (foreigners)
Weekends – INR 100 (Indians), INR 600 (foreigners)
Pay separately for video camera
Best Time To Visit
During monsoon when the hills surrounding the fort turn green – July to August
During winters when it is cool – November to February
How To Reach
Since it’s a daytrip from Udaipur we had booked a car and started early morning around 7.30 am. There are quite a few travel agencies where you can hire a car with driver. For the entire day it might cost you somewhere between INR 2,500 – INR 4000 depending on the type of vehicle.
If budget is a concern and timing is not an issue, you can take a bus. Buses ply every hour from Chetak Circle in Udaipur to Kelwara Village near the fort. Travelling from Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh Fort is as below:
Chetak Circle (Udaipur) to Kelwara by bus –> Kelwara to Kumbhalgarh Circle by bus –> Kumbhalgarh Circle to Kumbhalgarh Fort by jeep/taxi
Time taken to travel would be three hours and would cost INR 50 – INR 100.
Falna Railway station is the nearest railway station to Kumbhalgarh located 84 kms from Kumbhalgarh and it connects to trains from all major cities. Taxis can be hired from the station to reach the fort.
Udaipur airport is the nearest airport to Kumbhalgarh, around 85 kms from Kumbhalgarh
Events That You Might Want To Attend in Kumbhalgarh
Every year Kumbhalgarh hosts the three-day colourful and vibrant Kumbhalgarh Festival from 1st December to 3rd December. It is a cultural potpourri of song and dance performances by local artists and various traditional competitions.
Places To Stay In And Around The Kumbhalgarh Fort
In case you plan to stay overnight at Kumbhalgarh there are a lot of stays that you can choose from.
Located near Kumbhalgarh fort, this resort exudes every bit of royalty as the fort with a touch of modern amenities. Offering the grand view of the fort, this resort also provides wellness treatments at the on-site spa and outdoor swimming pool along with other services like currency exchange, luggage storage, etc.
Price start from INR 5,500/night (excluding tax)
Fateh Safari Lodge
At the foothills of the Aravalli hills, at an altitude of 1,100 meters, overlooking Kumbhalgarh lies one of the finest heritage properties of Kumbhalgarh – Fateh Safari Lodge. This heritage property also offers activities like wildlife safari and fort visit apart from amazing stay deals.
Price starts from INR 8,237/night with 22% discount (excluding tax)
Via Lakhela Resort & Spa
Located right next to Lakhela lake in Kelwar, this property offers magnificent views of the hills and the lake. Apart from its 1,000 sq. feet adult pool and a separate one for children, this resort provides other facilities like an on-site spa, gymnasium and an array of indoor game and outdoor games. To keep the guests entertained and engaged there is yoga, cycling, swimming lessons, cooking sessions cocktail and mocktail making sessions!! So a blend of stunning sights with a dash of activity.
Price starts from INR 4,018 (excluding tax)
The Wild Retreat
With majestic views of Kumbhalgarh this nature resort overlooks the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. This resort looks resplendent during monsoon as everything around looks refreshing and green. With its rustic features and well-appointed cottages with all modern amenities, this resort is ideal for a tranquil stay.
Package price starts from INR 7,500/night (excluding tax)
Kumbhalgarh Safari Camp
Located 3 kms from the fort in Kelwara, this camp accommodates cottages, an outdoor swimming pool and modern amenities to make your stay luxurious and royal.
Cottage price starts from INR 7,684 (excluding tax)
Bodhi – A Boutique Hotel
Surrounded by the green valley that soothes the eyes, here is a luxury hotel in the lap of nature with extensive modern amenities – Bodhi Boutique Hotel. A hotel that feels more like home than a hotel because of the warmth the staff exudes and provides luxury “themed” rooms for your comfortable stay.
Price starts from INR 4,380 (excluding tax)
Budget Hotels To Stay
Kumbhalgarh Forest Retreat
Price starts from INR 1993 (excluding tax)
3.5 kms from the fort
Price starts from INR 1,500 (excluding tax)
Hotel Garh Kumbh
3 kms from the fort
Price starts from INR 2,800 (excluding tax)
There are various other cheaper stays in Kelwara village like New Ratan Deep Hotel and Karni Palace Hotel
Places To Eat In And Around Kumbhalgarh
There are quite a few places to grab a bite. In fact, one is right across the entrance of the fort called Kuber where you will get English Breakfast (bread butter roast) or a yummy pure ghee ladened parantha. If you like plain homemade style thali you can check the local eateries like
• 1458 AD Kumbhalgarh Camp & Restaurant
• Rajwari Mewar Restaurant
• Mahadev Restaurant
• Rajwadi Restaurant
Places to Visit Near the Fort
Kumbhalgarh is not only known for the Fort but also for a lot of other places that can be visitied in and around Kumbhalgarh!
Catfish Lake Kumbhalgarh
If you are interested in watching fish wriggling in a pool of water, you can visit this place, located close to the fort.
Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary
Sprawling over 578 sq. kms surrounding the fort, this wildlife sanctuary is home to many of the endangered species like a caracal that is facing extinction. Among other animals are chausingha (four-horned antelope), sloth bear, hyena, jackal, nilgai, chinkara and many other colourful birds. A must-visit for animal lovers who like to see wildlife in their natural habitat.
Parashuram Cave Temple
Located 3,995 ft from sea-level, this cave temple of Shiva is believed to have been built by the sixth avatar of Vishnu – Parashuram by cutting the rock with his axe. Around 10 kms from Kumbhalgar Fort this place remains a must-visit for all Shiva devotees.
Muchhal Mahavir Temple
The Jain temple dedicated to Lord Mahavir, 24th Tirthankara of Jainism which is located 50 kms from Kumbhalgarh Fort.
One of the most stunning and elaborate Jain temples spread over an area of 4,500 sq. yards consisting of 29 halls, built in the 15th century is the best place to visit in Ranakpur. It is located 34 kms from Kumbhalgarh fort.
Open from 7am to 7pm.
52 kms from Kumbhalgarh, known for the famous Battle of Haldighati between the armies of Maharana Pratap and Akbar’s troops led by Man Singh of Amer this place gives a sombre feeling. Also present is Maharana Pratap museum that gives extensive insight on the life of Maharana Pratap.
One of the five famous lakes in Mewar, this lake was constructed 48kms away fromKumbhalgarh in the 17th century across Gomti, Kelwa and Tali rivers.
50 kms from Kumbhalgarh and famous for idol of 12th century infant Lord Krishna – Shrinathji. If you are interested in the arti timings, then check here.
Offbeat getaway place in rural India for those looking for scenic beauty, wildlife and natural. Known among wildlife enthusiasts as a leopard sighting place, here leopards and humans coexist peacefully with no conflict between them. There have been no reports of any leopard attacks although the villages are not fenced, and it is common to see leopards strolling about. Granite hills of Jawai are unique, with plenty of caves where the elusive cats can take refuge and helps their population grow. It is located 94 kms from Kumbhalgarh.
98 kms from Kumbhalgarh Fort, you can visit this stunning “City of Lakes”, frequent cafes that are on Lake Pichola where most of the homestays and hotels are situated which is also close to Udaipur City Palace. You can feel like a royalty while you dine at Ambrai’s lakeside restaurant. And attend Darhohar Folk Dance Show arranged by local artists everyday between 7pm to 8pm at the Girl’s Government High School on Lal Ghat Road.
Visiting Udaipur during January and then taking a daytrip to Kumbhalgarh fort was the highlight of our trip. Being a history buff since childhood, monuments of historical significance have always fascinated me. The enormous fort shrouded in mystery, history and myth is an ideal place to visit if your interest lies in learning about the history of monuments and your want is to be mesmerized by the enigma surrounding!! Well, I was, and so shall you!
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