May 06, 2020
India, and particularly the State of Rajasthan, is home to several forts and palaces.
India, and particularly the State of Rajasthan, is home to several forts and palaces. These date back several centuries and are subjects of curiosity and wonder even today. How were they built over long distances? What kind of transport was used to move huge stone boulders? How were these forts able to repel rampaging armies?
These questions may never be answered to your satisfaction. But you can certainly take a dekko at these magnificent forts and marvel at them. A case in point is the majestic Kumbhalgarh Fort in Udaipur, Rajasthan. It is a thing of beauty and grace, power and ambition. If you have not yet visited this neck of the woods in Udaipur, then this could be the year that you will. If you are planning an Udaipur holiday any time soon, do set aside a few days to visit Kumbhalgarh Fort and know more about its glory.
This majestic fort dates back to the rich Mewari dynasty in Udaipur. Specifically, it was located in the Rajasamand district in the West range of the Aravalli Mountains. Rana Kumbha reportedly built this fort in the 15th century, and it was designed to keep out marauding armies. However, some historians believe that the fort was originally built in the 6th century by King Samprati at the same site. But this fort was pulled down, and the current iteration is said to have been built by Rana Kumbha. He named it after himself, as was the fashion of the day.
In all, this king had 84 forts in his kingdom and he built 32 of them himself. However, none of the others were as large or elaborately planned as Kumbhalgarh Fort. There is a famous legend that also speaks of the king’s generosity – the story goes that the King would order many kilograms of ghee and cotton to be kept burning inside massive lamps, to provide light to farmers working in their fields at night. The lamps would be placed along the external sides of the walls.
The fort was largely successful in keeping enemies out, and could not be occupied till the late 19th century came around. It was finally occupied by the British, who used it as a watchtower and for storing ammunition. Today, the fort is opened for viewing to the general public and is no longer used for Government purposes.
Located about 82 km from Udaipur city, the fort is recognised as a heritage structure by UNESCO and is a protected monument. Historically it is as important as the Mewar Fort in Rajasthan and second in size only to the Chittor Fort. The fort is actually a large complex – it is recognised as one of the largest complexes in the world.
The fort is built atop a hill, over 1000 feet above sea level in the Aravalli Mountain range. It has one of the longest walls of any fort in the world, going as far as 36 km! In proportion, the external walls are 15 feet thick. There are many structures inside the fort, such as temples, large water tanks, plinths decorated with idols of Hindu gods, and so on.
The Government annually hosts the Kumbhalgarh Festival for three days inside the fort, to celebrate the spirit of Rana Kumbha and his foresight in building the fort.
Being in a desert region, Kumbhalgarh is normally not visited in the summer season. The summer is hot and arid, and sightseeing in this weather is often not advisable. Young children, pregnant women, senior citizens and those suffering from respiratory and skin allergies would do well to avoid this season altogether.
When it comes to the monsoon season, there are scanty rain showers in this area, and the temperature falls at first. However, after the rain shower has gone and the ground has dried, the humidity increases and you can feel uncomfortably hot. This season is not too conducive weather-wise, but there are less tourist footfalls so you can move about in relative peace. You can easily get hotel and resort bookings, and the tariffs at the best restaurants in Kumbhalgarh may have also been reduced. And yet, the area comes alive with the fresh rainfall and everything looks fresh and beautiful.
However, the best time to visit Kumbhalgarh is the winter season. The temperature is pleasant and the sky is a clear blue. There is good visibility during the months of October to December. Post-December and up to early February, the winter sets in earnest and you will have to bundle up warmly because it gets really cold.
There are three ways to reach Kumbhalgarh, namely:
* By Air: Kumbhalgarh does not have its own airport. The nearest airport is at Udaipur, the Dabok Airport. The airport is about 66 km away from Kumbhalgarh. Once you alight here, you can take a cab or have your resort pick you up in a car.
* By Road: Kumbhalgarh does not have its own bus stand, with the nearest one being located at Nathdwara 36 km away. You can take a bus to this stand and then look for an autorickshaw or taxi to take you to your hotel or resort. Some people prefer to drive in from Udaipur as well.
* By Railway: There is no railway station or rail head at Kumbhalgarh. The nearest rail head is at Rani, about 35 km away. There are weekly trains plying from other cities in Rajasthan to Rani station. Look up an updated Kumbhalgarh tourism guidebook to know the right train and route from your hometown.
Now that you are aware of the history and how to reach there, let’s get you started on your list of places to visit in Kumbhalgarh. There are our top picks:
* Kumbhalgarh Fort: As mentioned above, this fort is an architectural and engineering wonder. It is one of the most spectacular forts in India, if not the world. One of the most popular places to visit in Kumbhalgarh for locals and tourists alike, it stands 1900 m above sea level and is testimony to the construction principles of the time that it is still in a great condition. Traversing the entire fort premises will easily take at least half a day. On the way, you can visit temples and palaces located inside the fort complex.
* Badal Palace: This palace stands inside the Kumbhalgarh Fort complex and has tremendous tourist footfalls. Once you go inside, you will see why. A handsome two-storied structure, it stands at the top of the fort premises and has many paintings and colourful murals inside. The views from the windows and terraces are simply breath taking, showing all of the neighbourhood in its glory. The palace is so named because of its location at the top and how airy it is. It has two sections: one for the royal ladies to retire, and one for the men to have parties, games and official meetings.
* Vedi Temple: This is one of the best places to visit in Kumbhalgarh Fort, and can be explored in a few hours. The three-storied temple is dedicated to Goddess Vedi, and stands near the Hanuman Gate of the Fort. The temple is also said to have been built by Rana Kumbha, but it was restored by Maharana Fateh Singh a couple of centuries later. However, there is a curious legend attached to this temple: it was one of the few sacrificial sites in Rajasthan!
* Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary: If you have a penchant for wildlife and the open spaces, then this is the best place to visit in Kumbhalgarh. The sanctuary is flanked by the Aravalli range on one side, and was originally a forest for royal hunters. Today the sanctuary houses over 200 species of birds, several big cats, leopards, wolves, chinkaras, nilgai and deer, among others. The forest is vast and has trekking trails, special routes for safaris, horse riding area, etc.
* Neelkanth Mahadev Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this magnificent temple is a major attraction and one of the best places to visit in Kumbhalgarh. It is said to have been built in the year 1458, and has all the layout of a typical Indian temple. You can see the open entrance, an inner sanctum, pillars with several inscriptions, a high Shiva lingam of stone, and entrances to the inner sanctum from four sides. You and your loved ones will enjoy visiting this temple and saying your prayers.
* Mammadev Temple: Let’s continue visiting the temples in this vicinity, and come to the famous Mammadev Temple. It was also built by Rana Kumbha, and dates back to the year 1460. Despite its long existence, it is still in great condition and can be visited at all times of the year. It is located below the Kumbhalgarh Fort and is one of the most visited places in Kumbhalgarh. Its architecture and design are a sheer joy to behold – take a look at the beautiful chhatris, and four stone blocks bearing inscriptions about important historical events. However, it is missing a few pillars which were housed in the Udaipur Museum a few years ago. The temple also has a freshwater reservoir on the premises.
* Parshuram Temple: This mysterious temple is one of the best places to visit in Kumbhalgarh. It is located inside a cave, and the legend goes that the sage Parshuram would sit inside this cave to meditate for long hours. However, the temple was built inside later and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. But scores of Parshuram devotees throng to it as well. There are idols of Lord Ganesh and as many as nine holy water reservoirs inside. Also, you need to walk down about 500 steps to reach the temple from the cave entrance.
* Mucchal Mahavir Temple: Let’s round up our list of places to visit in Kumbhalgarh with one last temple: the Mucchal Mahavir Temple. This temple is not located inside the fort, but inside Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a Jain temple which is quite beautiful to behold. The interiors house large statues of wildlife like elephants. The inner sanctum has the large Mahavir idol. This idol is different from other Lord Mahavir idols – the face in this idol has a large moustache. Due to this, the temple got its curious name!
Also Read: 5 Must-See Palaces Of Rajasthan
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Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 250,000 members , who can holiday at 100+ resorts in India and abroad.