Rajasthan has always been my favorite place to visit, not because it is the state of my ancestors, but also because of the culture and its people. Some of the best palaces and forts are built by the King and Maharajah of Rajasthan. The state has some of the best architect, lifestyle of Royalty, humbleness of the people and to my surprise, tons of greenery.
Rajasthan at present is the biggest state of India and covering all in one trip is not possible. During my short trip to this state, I visited Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh along with a day stopover in Udaipur. You can visit my previous blog Udaipur - City of Lakes to know more about the city. Coming back to Ranakpur, many people who do trip to Rajasthan end up going to either Jaipur, Jodhpur or Jaisalmair, but Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh are hidden gem of Rajasthan.
Ranakpur is some 2 hour away from Udaipur and within the city resides the biggest temple of Jainism, Ranakpur Deraser (Temple). Ranakpur Temple is the biggest attraction of the city due to the vast and beautiful construction of the temple. There are over 1444 pillars in the temple and all are uniquely designed, no two pillars will resemble same carving. Each pillar has its own set of carving and design. From each pillar, you can see the heart, center of the temple where lies the statue of the Lord.
All the resorts and hotels and around this temple and being a very small city, you will find peace and calmness in the area. There are many other temples around like Krishna Temple. Compared to Jain temple, this temple is small and have less crowd.
Our stay in Ranakpur was in Fateh Bagh. The palace has been converted into a hotel, making each and every room unique and ancient. Each room in the hotel is named differently and interior of that room completely reflects its name. eg. If room is called Sun, you will see the picture and painting of sun in the room. All palaces in the past were spacious, hence each room of Fateh Bagh is spacious yet elegant. For those seeking luxury and comfort, it is the best hotel to stay and if you are planning a wedding, then the backdrop of this hotel just adds sparkle to the luxurious event. The hotel's restaurant serves amazing food and ambience. Since we spent a lot of time on the road, we ended up eating food at roadside dhabbas and restaurants. If you are on a relaxing holiday, then food at the hotel restaurant is a good option.
After 2 nights stay in Ranakpur, we headed towards Kumbhalgarh. In our initial plan, we were suppose to stay in Kumbhalgarh and do an excursion to Ranakpur but later plan changed and we did the other way around. Kumbhalgarh is known for the majestic Kumbhalgarh Fort. The Mewar fortress is a place where great warrior Maharana Pratap took birth and it is also a second largest fort in Rajasthan. The fort like most of the forts in Rajasthan, reside on top of the mountain, but the most impressive part of Kumbhalgarh Fort was the huge walls around the fort around 34 km long. It is a Great Wall of India, which is second largest wall in the world after a Great Wall of China. It is stretched across the mountain and protect the fort from all kinds of attacks from their enemy. Kumbhalgarh Fort has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and added to the group of Hill Fort of Rajasthan. Walking all the way to top of the fort, you will see Jain and Hindu temple build inside. The fort has 300 Jain temples and 60 Hindu Temple, though not all are accessible for public. In the evening, the fort is lit with lights for a few hours, which is a beauty in itself. Even while you are walking around in the fort, you will hardly be able to see 10-20 percent of the fort due to most of part of the fort is inaccessible to the general public and also because if the entire fort will be accessible people will get lost as they will not be able to find their way out.
Apart from the obvious attraction in Kumbhalgarh, there is another famous place for visitors and should be in their must visit list - Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. The wildlife sanctuary is biggest after Ranthambore in Rajasthan. You will find animals like the wolf, jackal, four horned antelope (chausingha), leopard and many more. Apart from animals, you can also spot various birds. The Sanctuary is closed during monsoon (Jun-Sept) so plan your travel dates accordingly. There are many big resorts and hotels around fort where one can think of staying. The accommodations are from big property to a small hotel, choose as per your convenience.
Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh are as royal and rich like any other city of Rajasthan and it also offers you a break from usual touristy place.
Accessibility: The closest airport is in Udaipur. There are daily morning flights from Delhi and Mumbai. Easily reachable via road from Udaipur, around 2 hours journey. Around the city there are rickshaws, but they take more people than one allotted seat. It is better to have your own vehicle or rent a vehicle for roaming around.
Weather: Being in Rajasthan, most of the time it is hot (especially during the afternoons). Best time to visit is from October-March. During summer & monsoon season rates will be lowest especially during monsoon and less crowd too.
Excursion: If time permits, one can go for 2-3 day visit to Chittorgarh. It has also one of the big fort of Rajasthan!
Stay: In Ranakpur, we stayed in Fateh Bagh. Many more options from luxury to budgeted are available. At both places, Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh, you can decide to stay 1 night each in both city or select one of two.