First Published on December 22, 2015
Where I stop on the hills, create your fort entrance Make my last stop my final one. Let the place where my head rolls be the site of a temple And the place my body lies, the mighty walls that none can penetrate. What followed has created history as the second longest wall in the world - popularly known as Kumbhalgarh fort wall.
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 them. Somehow,I feel that my trip would not be a success without having seen them properly. Kumbhalgarh fort for me, was this one uncompromisable destination during my trip to Rajasthan and one of the main reasons was to see the second longest wall in the world.
My fascination for the Kumbhalgarh fort started with my research about this place. Firstly, this was a piece of history – an almost undefeated fort, second – the Kumbhalgarh fort walls were recognized as the second-longest wall in the world 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.
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. This post is an exclusive on the mighty Kumbhalgarh fort walls, its facts & history while the second post that will follow covers the Kumbhalgarh palace and its interiors. So, let’s get started.
All about Kumbhalgarh Fort History
It is hard to believe that you are in a desert when you pass through the Aravalli hills, for they are naturally green. The cool breeze that blows along makes you realize what an apt location the Kumbha kings had chosen for their fort. However, Kumbhalgarh Fort history goes a little before that. It is believed that the place was favored for its strategic location by the Mauryas in the 6th century and then, it was called Machhindrapur.
Not much is known of it and there are no major records to ascertain how significant this place was. Kumbhalgarh fort gained prominence in the 15th century when Rana Kumbha of the Sisodia dynasty and the ruler of Chittor and Udaipur built this massive structure. He engaged a famous architect – Mandan to create an almost impregnable fort. A book called Raj Vallabh, written by the architect himself documents the construction of this strategic fort and credits Rana Kumbha as the founder of the highest fort of Rajasthan.
The massive walls of Kumbhalgarh fort separated the two major kingdoms of Rajasthan – Mewar and Marwar. It turned out to be a safe-house for the rulers of Mewar in various situations. For one, this was the place where the founder of Udaipur – Rana Udai Singh was hidden here as a baby when their original capital Chittor was under siege. And of course, as I mentioned earlier, the famed Maharana Pratap Singh was born in the safety of the Kumbhalgarh fort walls.
The walls have withstood the futile attempts of Muslim rulers like Ahmed Shah I of Gujarat and Mahmud Khalji of Malwa in the 1400s. In fact, Ahmed Shah believed local lore that the temple of Banmata Devi near the fort gave the citadel the power to withstand attack. He destroyed the same but yet, the walls stood strong. 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, that is all now a part of the Kumbhalgarh fort history.
The Kumbhalgarh fort was recognized as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 along with 5 other hill forts of Rajasthan. The other forts include Amer Fort, Jaisalmer Fort, Chittorgarh, Ranthambore fort and Gagron fort.
The legend of Kumbhalgarh fort wall
The world’s second longest wall comes with its own tale of sacrifice. It seems that Rana Kumbha was not able to get the fortified walls constructed properly. There crept in certain instabilities and setbacks. During one of those days, Rana Kumbha 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.
At the time of the sacrifice, the saint told Rana Kumbha that he would begin climbing the mighty Aravalli hills. Wherever he first stopped, the King must mark the spot for his grand gate to Kumbhalgarh fort. His next stop would be his final one and that is where he will be slain. Wherever his head falls, the King must build a temple and where his body lands should be the site of what later became the longest wall of India – the Kumbhalgarh fort walls.
True to this story, a temple was constructed at the very place where the saint’s head fell and today, this stands close to one of the gates called Hanuman Pol. The walls -well, you can see them from afar for they are finally the second longest wall in the world – after the Great wall of China.
Interesting facts about Kumbhalgarh walls
By now you know the first and the biggest fact about the Kumbhalgarh walls is that it is the World’s second longest wall. That aside, there are some more things that will raise your eyebrows. Check out the other Kumbhalgarh wall facts –
- The entire Kumbhalgarh fort wall spans 36 kms.
- Kumbalgarh fort walls are 15 feet thick . The width has been compared to allowing 8 horses can trot side by side.
- The wall of Kumbhalgarh fort is built over 13 hill peaks and is at an altitude of over 3600 feet.
- There are seven gates along the Kumbhalgarh walls that were used to enter the fort.
- These fortified walls enclose a complete citadel with over 360 temples. Of these 300 temples are Jain temples and the rest are Hindu temples
- There used to massive lamps along the Great wall of India for which around 50 kg of ghee and 100 kg of cotton were consumed. These used to be lit on orders by Rana Kumbha for the people of the valley.
The entrances to Kumbhalgarh Fort
There are seven entrances to Kumbhalgarh fort. I can’t claim to have seen them all but here is what I found out about them –
- Aaret Pol – This is the first entrance for all the visitors to Kumbhalgarh fort. Most likely you will drive past it. This entrance has a mirror signal system that was used to alert the other gates along the walls of Kumbhalgarh fort. There is a Ganesh temple next to this entrance
- Halla Pol – The name itself translates to commotion or disturbance. This gate was named so because of the invasion and disturbance caused by the Mughals in 1560s.
- Hanuman Pol – The gate is marked by an idol of Lord Hanuman. This is where the temple for the Human sacrifice made for Kumbhalgarh stands. There are inscriptions about the fort and its construction near this gate.
- Ram Pol – The main entrance to the fort. There is a step well near it called Badshahi Bavadi. This was constructed by the general – Shahbaz Khan for his Mughal troops.
- Bhairon Pol – This falls inside the citadel and leads to the Kumbhalgarh palaces.
- Nimboo Pol – Lemon gate was the one through which Panna dhai – the caretake of Baby Udai Singh brought him to safety from Chittorgarh – after his father was murdered. It is said that she substituted the prince with her own child and escaped the enemy.
- Paghara Pol – the place where the army gathered in Kumbhalgarh fort.
Apparently, there is one more gate or pol to Kumbhalgarh – somewhere in the East. This is believed to connect Mewar to Marwar and is named Dhanibatta Pol.
All these gates have been designed in a criss-cross fashion to slow down the enemies’ approach. Today, you can drive right up to Ram Pol and after that, it is all about walking and discovering the lovely places to see in Kumbhalgarh.
Along mighty walls of Kumbhalgarh Fort
From every corner of the fort, you can see the endless expanse of the outer walls. I would have loved to trek along these magnificent walls – at least for a few kilometers but the travel bug in me was itching to explore the other aspects of this fort. Thus, I stuck to the parts of the Kumbhalgarh wall that led to the main palace of the Kumbhalgarh fort – Badal Mahal.
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 up to 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 fort 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 them. 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.
You should check out the little tunnels near the walls of the fort. They must have been made for the sentries to walk along in the night. If you walk away from the palace to the opposite end along these walls, at some point, you can see the sand dunes of Thar desert.
Things to do in Kumbhalgarh
Exploring the other end of Kumbhalgarh fort is one of the many things that I missed out on during this trip. The key reason for that is with the limited time on hand, there was just plenty more to see in Kumbhalgarh fort. Check out this list of all the things to do in Kumbhalgarh and you will understand this paucity of time better.
- Kumbha Palace – the first palace in Kumbhalgarh fort
- Badal Mahal – the palace of clouds with a stunning view
- Jhalia ka Malia – the place where Maharana Pratap was born
- Top Khana – The canon museum
- Vedi Temple Complex – This is right next to the entrance and was built by Rana Kumbha himself.
- Ganesh temple – Next to the Ram Pol, this is dedicated to the Lord of good beginnings.
- Neelkanth Mahadev Temple – The 24 pillars of this temple and the huge idol of Shiva with 12 hands.
- Bawan Jain Temples – This translates to 52 temples.
- Golera Jain temple – This is group of Jain and Hindu temples in the center of the fort.
- Vedi Temple – Located near the Hanuman Pol, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Vedi and was built for the various pilgrims. It has 36 pillars and is octagonal in shape.
- Mammadev Temple – The temple is home to the cenotaphs of a few of the Mewar kings like Rana Kumbha
There are some more Kumbhalgarh temples that you can visit if you have time left after all these. After all, there are 360 temples enclosed within the Kumbhalgarh fort walls. Besides these things to see in Kumbhalgarh fort.
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. 🙂
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. For now, I will leave you with the memory of the second longest wall in the world. I am sure that this exclusive post on Kumbhalgarh fort walls has already vetted your interest in visiting this place.
What is the best way to reach 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.
The closest railway station to Kumbhalgarh is at Falna which is 68 km away. Again, you will have to rely on private cabs or public buses to get to Kumbhalgarh.
What is the best time to visit Kumbhalgarh fort?
Kumbhalgarh fort opens at 9 am in the morning and closes by 6 pm. Post its closing time, at 6:30 pm, you can attend the Kumbalgarh light and sound show. This is a 45 minute show that is worth attending if you have the time. A tour of Kumbhalgarh fort can take anything from 2 hours to 4 hours, depending on your interest.
In terms of the season, the best time to visit Kumbhalgarh fort is from October to February. Avoid the summer months as it gets incredibly hot. Monsoons are not very heavy here but the slight overcast can ruin your views here during monsoons.
What are the Kumbhalgarh fort entry fees?
The entrance fees for Indians is INR 15, while for foreign tourists, it is INR 200. There are no camera charges. The fort also, offers a Light and Sound show every evening. The show has a separate fee of INR 100 per person.
You can buy these tickets near the parking area of Kumbhalgarh fort. This is near the Ram Pol gate. Alternately, use the resource links provided in the Booking section to book one online.
Where to stay in Kumbhalgarh?
Kumbhalgarh surprisingly has tons of good options for a stay. A few options that you can consider include Kumbhalgarh Safari camp, Ramada hotels, Club Mahindra resorts, Lal bagh resorts etc. You can use the booking resources below to get more information and even book them online.
Can I do a day trip from Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh?
Yes, in fact Kumbhalgarh is a popular day trip from Udaipur. The trip takes around 2 hours by road and it is the best to start early in the morning. One can also, include Ranakpur Jain temple and the Haldighati grounds to their day trip itinerary and cover the same before visiting the fort. The rest of the day can be spent at the fort and after the Light and Sound show at Kumbhalgarh fort, you can head back to Udaipur.
Travel and Photography Tips:
- 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.
- A wide lens and a regular prime lens is recommended to capture the architecture of Kumbhalgarh fort. I would not say no to a telephoto lens for the various views along the walls of Kumbhalgarh fort. If you are headed here for photography, pick early evening for the lovely sunset that you will get from Badal Mahal.
- Booking.com is a good place to find hotels in Kumbhalgarh. You can use the given link to book one for yourself in Kumbhalgarh
- Klook.com offers online booking of various tours in and around Rajasthan. They even have a day tour from Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur available for booking. The site also, offers fast-track tickets to the fort.
- Another online resource to book your trip to Kumbhalgarh is through GetYourGuide.
- If you use Amazon for your home and travel purchases, do consider using this link to browse and buy your requirements
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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.