Kumbhalgarh is a gorgeous, massive and almost invincible fortress situated on the top of the Aravali Hills in the middle of a forest turned into a wildlife sanctuary. Built by Rana Kumbha in 15th century, its unique location and its grandeur makes it a must visit place in that part of Rajasthan. It is believed that Rana Kumbha built about 32 forts during his reign, of which Kumbhalgarh is the largest and most elaborate. This fort is inducted in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the month of June, 2013 along-with five other hill forts of Rajasthan.
Location: This fort is situated about 82 kms northwest of Udaipur city in the district of Rajsamand, Rajasthan. The famous Jain Temple of Ranakpur is about 45 kms away from this fort by road.
How to Reach? The best way to visit this fort is by taking a single day tour from Udaipur along-with Ranakpur Jain Temple. There are many tour operators in Udaipur offering this single day tour service.
Udaipur is major city in the Southern Part of Rajasthan and a very popular tourist destination in the worldwide tourism circuit. Udaipur is well connected to the major cities of India by Road, Rail and Air Transport. Two National Highways NH-8 and NH-76 pass through the city. Regular AC Sleeper as well general buses connect Udaipur to Major cities like Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Jodhour, Indore and Delhi. It is also a major Railway Junction with a good connectivity to Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and other major cities of India. Udaipur Airport is connected to many cities in India by scheduled domestic flights operated by major carriers. Delhi as well as Mumbai is connected to Udaipur on Air India and Jet Airways Network with daily scheduled flights.
After reaching Udaipur, The road transport is the only option to travel to the Kumbhalgarh Fort. There is no rail as well as flight connectivity to Kumbhalgarh. There is no regular public buses plying on this route. Either book a private cab from Udaipur or join any of the single-day private tour offered by numerous tour operators in Udaipur.
Some sources also suggest to catch a train to Phalna Junction, which is connected to Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Ahmedabad,Jaipur and Delhi by express trains and about 95 kms away from Kumbhalgarh. From there, again you have to arrange a private taxi to Kumbhalgarh Fort. I highly recommend you to plan your journey from Udaipur instead of Phalna. It will be more convenient, more comfortable and more economical compared to a transport arrangement from Phalna. Better to get a whole day package from Udaipur to include all nearby places like Eklingji Temple, Battlefield of Haldighati, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Ranakpur Jain Temple and Nathdwara.
My Trip to Kumbhalgarh Fort:
Kumbhalgarh was the part of my 10-days long solo motorcycle trip to the Eastern Part of Rajasthan that included destinations like Ranthambhore National Park, Bundi, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Haldighati, Ranakpur, Kumbhalgarh etc. Riding from Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh through the continuously changing landscapes was one of the most pleasant experience of the whole trip. I moved through the beautiful lakes of the Lake City very early in the morning and dodged the heavy traffic of the trucks at NH-8, before stopping to seek the blessings of Eklingji, the main deity of Mewar, at Eklingji Temple. From there, I passed through the battlefield of Haldighati, where I roamed in the green fields of Chaitri Roses with a local shopkeeper, saw the whole process of making world famous perfume and nectar and clicked many pictures. After Haldighati, lush green fields converted into a landscape surrounded by thorny bushes and barren lands, where I found many abandoned bucket wheels on the wells.
Moving further, I had a bad experience with the rear Tyre puncture. Luckily the nearest puncture repair shop was only 2 kms away and more luckily that Mumbai-return mechanic was able to handle the bike, that was rather a rarely used bike in that part of country.
The whole repairing process took at least two hours of the day, but the worst experience of the day was still left for the evening. Moving further, I passed through surprisingly beautiful landscape with barley and wheat fields near water canal and the hills in the background. Many people were working in the fields as it was the crop production time.
Gradually, those wheat fields were left behind and I was moving on the winding serpentine roads on the small hills through the forest. That area was the part of the Wildlife Sanctuary of Kubhalgarh. This wildlife sanctuary is the home of a reach wild life that includes wolf, leopards, sloth bear, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, sambhar, nilgai, chausingha (the four horned antelope), chinkara etc. Moving along the paved road on the outskirts of this sanctuary, Suddenly, I had the first glimpse of The Great Wall of India.
Standing tall in the middle of a forest on Aravali Hills, those walls are the symbol of a mighty fort and then the first glance of that Mighty fort, Kumbhalgarh Fort…Chittorgarh Fort and Ranthambhore Fort are impressive, but for me, nothing can beat that first impression of Kumbalgarh Fort. It is the mightiest, the grandest and really invincible.
Entry Ticket and Timings: The entry ticket of Kumbhalgarh Fort for an Indian national is INR 10 only and for Foreign Nationals it is INR 100 only. Digital Cameras are allowed inside the fort without any cost. Fort remains open from 8.00 AM to 6.00 PM daily throughout the year.
Like Chittorgarh Fort, private vehicles are not allowed on the road inside this fort, so you have to walk a lot to visit the attractions inside the fort area. There are some main attractions like palaces and temples located closed to the main entrance and those can be visited in 2-3 hours, but if you want to see the other temples and attractions like Gole Rao Group of Temples, some Jain Temples, Prithviraj ki Chhatri etc, then it will take about 4-5 hours to explore the entire complex.
Best Way to Visit Kumbhalgarh Fort: Kumbhalgarh Fort is a part of Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary that spread in the area of 578 sq.kms. around Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur. Youth Hostels Association of India offers a regular trekking expedition once in a year in the month of November from Ranakpur to Kumbhalgarh and then to Muchalla Mahavir Temple. This 5 Days/4 Nights trekking expedition covers the total of 40.5 kms trekking in Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary including the Kumbhalgarh Fort. Return journey of 25 kms from Muchalla Mahavir Temple to Ranakpur is covered by bus. This expedition fee is INR 3010 inclusive of Stay, simple nutritious Vegetarian Food, Transportation, Guidance, Equipment and Insurance for Youth Hotsel Members and do not include to and fro journey from the hometown to the base camp in Ranakpur. In my opinion, this is the best option to explore the fort area , wildlife sanctuary as well as the Jain temple of Ranakpur, if you have 5-days time to spend in that area.
Attractions at Kumbhalgarh Fort:
1. Massive Entrance, Ram Pol: The massive entrance gate of the fort is known as Ram Pol. This gate itself is a symbol of the sheer grandness of this fort.
2. Nearby Temples that include Ganesh Temple, Swami Narayan Temple, Neelkanth Mahadeva Temple, Vedi Complex etc: After entering through the main entrance, you come across the group of temples at both sides of the main entrance. At the left hand side there is a Ganesha Temple and a Swami Narayan Temple. At the right hand side, there is a Vedi Complex, Neelkanth Mahadeva Temple, Parsvanath Temple etc. Many of these temples were built during the reign of Rana Kumbha.
3. Palaces that include Kumbha Palace, Badal Mahal and the Birthplace of Maharana Pratap: There are mainly three palaces inside the fort at different heights. A road from the main entrance leads towards the palaces along the Ganesha Temple and Swami Narayan Temple. After passing through a gate known as Pagda Pole, you come across the first palace, Kumbha Palace. This palace, a two storeyed edifices, consisting of two rooms, a corridor and some open spaces, are now in a highly ruined state.
Near Pagda Pol, along the Kumbha Palace, there is another mansion known as Jhalia ka Malia or the Palace of The Queen Jhalia. This is the place where Maharana Pratap was believed to be born. The traces of old painting can still be seen on the wall.
Badal Mahal or The Palace of Clouds was built by Rana Fateh Singh and named so because of its situation at the highest point of the fort. The palace had a separate section for males and females. In the female section, there were stone windows with jalis, so that the queens and other ladies could see the court proceedings and other events in privacy.
4. Temples beyond the entrance gate that include Gole Rao Group of Temples , Jain Temples etc: Beyond the entrance gate, about 2 kms away, there are many temples scattered in the fort area. If you are lacking of time, then better to click them from the top of the Badal Palace. If you have time, you can walk on a paved road going along the Vedi Complex and Neelkanth Mahadeva Temple. Located in the middle of hilly terrains and surrounded by thorny bushes, these temples are a perfect place to spend some moments.
There are about 360 small and big temples scattered inside the Kumbhalgarh Fort. Of these 360 temples, about 300 temples belong to Jain Deities and about 60 temples belong to Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
Things to do:
1. Sit on the top of Badal Palace and see the expansion of wildlife sanctuary and the fort area: Badal Palace is situated on the top of the Kumbhalgarh Fort. Roof of this palace offer an excellent view of Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary spreading over the Aravali Hills.
2. Meet a local living inside the fort and listen the story of the construction of this fort: According to the legend, when Rana Kumbha started construction of this fort, he faced many difficulties and at a point of time, he thought to abandon this construction. Then one day Rana Kumbha met a holy man, who suggested that those difficulties would be end, if somebody would sacrifice his life voluntarily. But that man should be a pure hearted person. Nobody was like that. The King was very disappointed. Then, that holy man offered his own sacrifice and advised the king to built the main entrance where his beheaded head would fall and the palaces where his body would fall. Rana Kumbha went ahead as per his advise after the sacrifice and then this grand and majestic fort was constructed. You can talk to any local people there, who will be happy to tell you this story without any charge.
3. Click the pictures of The Great Wall of India: The outer wall of this fort is believed to be the second longest wall after the Great Wall of China. They are about 36 kms long and about fifteen feet thick. ( however some sources say it is only 15 kms long now). From the top of the Badal Palace, you can click many good pictures of this Great Wall of India.
4.Locate numerous temples from a higher point: At the top of the Badal Palace or any other higher point, you can check your knowledge about the temples and other monuments inside the fort, by simply locating them in that wilderness.
5. Walk on the massive wide walls of the fort: Not all forts in India are so grand as Kumbhalgarh Fort and only few of them provide an opportunity to walk on the outer walls. Kumbhalgarh Fort is mightiest and grandest and you can also walk on its 15 feets thick outer walls near the main entrance beyond the Vedi Complex.
6. Eat at a Restaurant closed to the entrance: This fort is situated in the middle of nowhere, on the hills, surrounded by a wildlife sanctuary. You will not find any good place in nearby area to eat. So, better to eat at a decent restaurant inside the fort near to the main entrance. The prices are of course inflated but still affordable in the middle of nowhere.
7. Admire this fort from the view point: About one km before to the main entrance of the Kumbhalgarh Fort, you will find a notice board pointing towards the Kumbhalgarh Fort View Point. That point provides an excellent outer view of this grand fort and its mighty walls.
8. Enjoy Sound and Light Show: Every evening the Kumbhalgarh Fort is illuminated with flood lights and a special Sound and Light show starts at 6.45 PM on the story of Rajput Royals.The show is only in Hindi language and organised by The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corp. The ticket cost is INR 100 per person for the Indian Nationals (Perhaps INR 250 for the foreigners). This 45 minutes show is highly recommended , provided that you are planing to stay there in the night.
9. Trek to Ranakpur Jain Temples: The best way to explore the wildlife sanctuary, Kumbhalgarh Fort and Ranakpur Jain Temples. If you have time, please try this trek once, and to experience the best try it with Youth Hostels.
Where to Stay?
There are very few hotels (about 8-9) in Kumbhalgarh area and they are basically high-end heritage hotels or resorts. So from a backpacker’s point of view, those hotels are very expensive. It is better to stay in Udaipur and have a one day trip to Kumbhalgarh to return back by evening.
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