One look at the Kumbhalgarh fort and you will know that it was built for the sole purpose of defense. The fort is located among hills in such a way that you can't have a view unless you are very close to it. One sharp turn on the hilly road and there the fort stands tall in its past glory.
Kumbhalgarh fort was built by Rana Kumbha in 15th century. It is the second most important fort in Rajasthan. The perimeter of the fort wall extends to 36kms. This wall is second longest in the world after the Great Wall of China. This fort is located on the site of an old fort which was built in 2nd century BC by a Jain prince Samprati.
There are 5 gates to reach the fort out of which two are outside the fort wall. There are many ancient Jain and Hindu temples inside the fort walls.
The fort has been refuge to many Rajput kings in its time. Maharana Pratap was also born in this fort. The fort is said to be invincible except once when it fell due to scarcity of water after a long siege.
We hired a guide to give us a tour of the fort. The palace is located at the top of the hill so there is a long and steep walk. The guide told us an interesting legend about the construction of the fort. The story says when Rana Kumbha was building the fort the walls collapsed consistently. He consulted a holy man Sant Mer who suggested that the sacrifice of a holy soul was needed. No one met the requirement so the holy man offered himself. He gave the instruction to Rana Kumbha to behead him. The fort gate was to be built where his head falls and the palace where his body falls. After being beheaded the body of the Sant Mer walked on for a distance and where it fell the palace was built. He also had instructed to attach his name to the fort to make it invincible, so the fort was known as Kumbhal Mer.
Ram Pol, the main entrance to the fort is grand. The wall surrounding it is huge and in cylindrical shape. The walk to the top of the palace is steep but well paved. On the way to the palace you can see canon ball mark on some of the gate walls.
We also saw the garrison, horse stable and the royal kitchen.
The most important palace of the fort is Badal Mahal (which literally means Palace in clouds). The male and female section of palace is separated by a high wall. We saw the rooms where queen stayed, they were very small and suffocating. On the terrace of Badal Mahal the speed of wind was harsh but the views were excellent.
It took us around an hour to take the tour. Do not forget to carry water with you as there is no arrangement at the top. There are many temples inside the fort which you can visit. Most accessible of them are Neelkanth Mahadev temple and Vedi temple. Neelkanth Mahadev temple was built in 1458 AD. It has a large Shivlinga and this temple is still functional. Another temple I heard worth visit is Golerao group of temples. To visit this temple you will have to walk few kilometers.
You can also take a stroll on the fort walls. It is said that the walls are so thick that 8 horses could gallop side by side on it.
During our stay at Kumbhalgarh we had our meals at Dera restaurant. The Bati Churma was the best I ever had. For this you need to give the order few hours earlier as it takes time to prepare it.
Every evening at 6:45pm there is a light and sound show at the fort. The ticket for the show is Rs 75 for the 45 minute show. The show tells the history of the fort with light, sound and music. The lighting effect is spectacular. After the show the whole fort is illuminated for an hour.
Please carry a torch with you as the lighting inside the fort is poor.
We were fortunate, at the time of our visit the Kumbhalgarh Festival going on. We enjoyed an unforgettable evening listening to the fusion music from Fazal Qureshi and Mynta band with illuminated fort in the background.
The water storage tank. Many invincible fort have fallen to the enemy siege due to the lack of water.
One fo the sentry post from where you can see the road to the fort. Look at the stand to hold the torch.
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