Whenever I research a destination, there are always some places that I earmark as “uncompromisable” “must-visit” “Cannot avoid” kind of destinations. I tend to work my trip plan around these destinations so that there is enough time to visit here, for my trip would not be a success without having seen them properly. Kumbhalgarh for me, was this one uncompromisable destination during my trip to Rajasthan and I am so glad that it
My fascination for the Kumbhalgarh fort started with my research about this place. Firstly, this was a piece of history – a fort, second – an almost undefeated one and third – it was the birthplace of the famed Maharana Pratap Singh. There isn’t too much online about the fort and the unexplored part of it, added the mystique to this place, making it even more thrilling for me. At the end of it, I knew that my trip to Rajasthan would be incomplete if I missed out on this fort.
The fort enchanted me in myriad ways and I am afraid, I will not be able to cover it all in one post. So, consider this as the first of my two-part series of Kumbhalgarh fort. In this post, will share the various facets of the exteriors of the fort while I will leave the palace and its interiors for another post. So, let’s get started.
Enroute to Udaipur is when we planned a stop-over at this fort. The drive through the green hills was an absolute pleasure and it is best explained with this picture of the lovely green valley, one of the many green covers that you pass through when heading to Kumbhalgarh.
It is hard to believe that you are in a desert when you pass through these hills, for they are naturally green and the cool breeze that blows along makes you realize what an apt location the Kumbha kings had chosen for their fort. A bit of history before we move ahead – it is said that this fort was undefeated and considered as a safe haven by the Sisodia kings, who ruled the cities of Chittor and Udaipur. The founder of Udaipur – Rana Udai Singh was hidden here as a baby when the Chittor was under siege. And of course, as I mentioned earlier, the famed Maharana Pratap Singh was born here.
History has it that this fort fell only once when the drinking water was poisoned and with the combined efforts of the Mughal emperor Akbar and a few other Rajput kings. Hmm! Well, would not consider it a fair victory over this fort, but well, they say that All is Fair in Love and War 😉
The fort has seven gates and while we drove along to the main gate, I tried spotting them all along the way. I was a little disappointed that I could not spot all of them but the sight of the massive Ram Pol or the main gate along with the fortified walls took away this disappointment.
Trivia time – they say that Rana Kumbha was not able to get the fortified walls constructed properly and one of those days ended up meeting a spiritual person. The spiritual guide asked him to get a human sacrifice done. For quite some time, Rana Kumbha did not find anyone and finally, one person (some say that it was the same spiritual guide, some say it was a soldier) volunteered for the task. A temple was constructed at the very place where the soldier’s head fell and today, this stands close to one of the gates called Hanuman Pol. Little barbaric, don’t you think so?
Today, the fortified walls are the main feature of this fort. Spanning a total of 36 km over 13 hill peaks, the walls of Kumbhalgarh fort have been recorded as the second-longest wall in the world, after the Great Wall of China. The walls enclose a complete citadel with over 360 temples within it.
Amongst the various temples here, the Shiva temple is well known for its huge Shiva Linga. You can even visit this, either before you start towards the main palace or when you are back down to the main gate.
From every corner of the fort, you can see the endless expanse of the outer walls. I would have loved to trek along these outer walls – at least for a few kilometers but the travel bug in me was itching to explore the other aspects of this fort.
As I stood at the base of the fort and looked up, I saw the main palace of the fort – the Badal Mahal. The name Badal Mahal literally means “Abode of Clouds” and given the location of the palace, it seemed like a befitting name. The climb to the palace is through winding paths and is not all that steep. It is in fact, a beautiful climb with tons of greenery and flowers keeping you company as you ascend.
It is easy to imagine how people would have walked along the entrances and gates or climbed up on elephants or horsebacks to get upto the main palace. The best part of this fort is that there is no restriction and you are free to wander away from the main path to explore anything that catches your fancy. I walked along the walls to discover little watchtowers, gun and cannon holes and small oil holes.
Interestingly, the walls of the fort are quite unusual and very scenic. They are brownish with a bit of red color on it. They sort of reminded me of the castles that I saw in Europe. With the greenery and the lovely clouds as the backdrop, they are bound to bring out the shutterbug in you.
Unlike the other forts in Rajasthan, Kumbhalgarh Fort is devoid of guides – both real and audio. There are very few sign posts and the whole fort is kind of DYI. I frankly, loved that about the fort for it gave the explorer in me a bit of satisfaction. I felt as if I were discovering a lot by myself. I felt as if I was living a story. 🙂
Along the path to the Badal Mahal, you can visit a small cannon museum. Opposite the same is a huge water tank, that you need to climb up and peep into. Just remember not to step into it as it is quite steep and well, if you fall in, there is no one and no way to rescue you 😉
You can even explore the little tunnels near the walls of the fort. They must have been made for the sentries to walk along in the night. As you walk on further, you see this beautiful set of arches, possibly a part of the royal gardens back then.
Every now and then, I kept pausing to see the landscape that unfolded itself within the fort itself. I felt a little frenzied as well, wanting to see every corner of it but knowing that time would not permit it this time. The little paths that forked out at every junction seemed to hold a secret for me to unravel. Reluctantly, I had to leave out a lot of these forks to continue my trek up to the Badal Mahal.
Badal Mahal is a different story itself and one that needs a complete post dedicated to it. So, stay tuned for Part Two of Kumbhalgarh Fort, which I promise will be the next post from me. 🙂 For now, I leave you with this lovely picture of one of the watch-towers that I caught from the Badal Mahal.
Getting to Kumbhalgarh Fort:
- Udaipur is the nearest airport to Kumbhalgarh. It is around 100 kms from Kumbhalgarh
- There are plenty of tourist buses and state buses that one can take from Udaipur and Jodhpur.
- You can opt for a private cab from any of the cities in Rajasthan to Kumbhalgarh. Udaipur would be the closest city amongst all.
- The entrance fees for Indians is INR 10, while for foreign tourists, it is INR 100. There are no camera charges. The fort also, offers a Light and Sound show every evening.
- The Fort is open on all days of the week
- There are a few restaurants near the fort, specifically once you enter the fort. They serve full fledged meals as well as snacks. A small curios shop is attached to the restaurant. I found the shop reasonably priced, though there wasn’t too much of variety here.
- Comfortable cotton clothing and flat shoes are recommended as there is plenty to walk around. The path is not really recommended for the handicap and for families with babies in a pram.
- It tends to get a little chilled in the evening. A light woolen shawl or a light jacket would be handy.
- There are no sign-posts or guides available at the fort. The entire journey here is a Do-It-Yourself and frankly, I think the thrill of exploring the fort lies in this itself.
- There are a lot of resorts and hotels around Kumbhalgarh and you can opt to stay here as well. The Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary could be an added attraction .
Click here for Part two of Kumbhalgarh Fort.
Popularly referred to as a Restless Ball of Energy. My Mom refuses to entertain my complaints about my equally restless daughter & assures my husband that I was born with a travel bug.
I am a Post-Graduate in Marketing by qualification and a travel blogger by passion. Besides travel, I enjoy photography and if you don’t find me at my desk, I would be out playing badminton or swimming or just running. I believe in planning for every long weekend through the year. And when I cannot travel physically, I travel virtually through this travel blog. My travel stories have also, got published on various websites and magazines including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet India and Jetwings. I have recently published my first book – When Places Come Alive – a collection of stories that are based on legends, landscapes, art and culture of a place which is available in both ebook and paperback format.