A Day Trip to Kumbahalgarh - A Hidden Fort

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Kumbhalgarh Fort
Kumbhalgarh Fort

A Day Trip to Kumbahalgarh - A Hidden Fort


Continued from
 Udaipur - The City of lakes in 24 hours


           Some time back, I read somewhere that the world remembers only the first position holders and nobody remembers the second position holders and this is so true. Everybody knows Neil Armstrong and Edmund Hillary, the first ones to set foot on Moon and Mount Everest, respectively. But how many people remember Buzz Aldrin and Tenzing Norgay, who were the part of the same mission, but second to set foot. Similarly, everybody knows about the great wall of china, but how many know about the second longest wall? Well, probably very few. Don't be astonished if I tell you that the second longest wall in the world is here in our own backyard standing tall and guarding the fort of Kumbhalgarh in Rajasthan.


Second Longest wall in the world at Kumbhalgarh Fort
The second longest wall in the world at Kumbhalgarh Fort

  Structure

                 Perched on the tallest hill and surrounded by Thirteen hills in the Aravali mountain range, this medieval Citadel sings odes of the valor of the Rajputs of Mewar. Rana Kumbha is credited for the fort as it stands today, however, it is said that a fort was built by Jain Prince named Samprati, second son of King Ashoka of Maurya empire 200 years BC and was known as Machhindrapur. The ruins of the fort existed here and Rajputs knew about the place, but it was Rana Kumbha along with his chief architect Mandan, who understood the true potential of this place and built the fort here. Rana Kumbha and Mandan took the Rajput fort architecture to the new heights and Kumbhalgarh Fort is the finest example of this. Rana Kumbha made 32 forts in his kingdom during his lifetime. I have called this fort " A Hidden Fort", because firstly, in spite of being a UNESCO world heritage site and holding the record of the second-longest wall, the fort is not as famous as Chittorgarh or Mehrangarh. Secondly, the thirteen hills surrounding the fort are in a concentric formation and provide a perfect camouflage to the fort and it is not visible to the enemy from a distance and remains hidden till the enemy is very close to it. 


Kumbhalgarh Fort with Second largest wall in foreground
Kumbhalgarh Fort stands majestically in background with its famed wall in foreground


         The biggest feature of the fort is its 36-kilometer long wall. This wall is 15 - 25 feet wide. It is said that 8 horses could ride astride on this wall. The ingeniousness of Rana Kumbha and Mandan reflects in this periphery wall, which instead of being in a straight line, snakes around the contours of the surrounding hills. There are a seven massive gates, which one has to cross to access the interiors of the fort. The fort has seven ramparts folded with one another, curved bastions, and several huge watchtowers. This solid structure has made this fort impregnable. This fort has never been conquered in a battle, however Mughals captured it for a short period by deceit. They poisoned the water sources of the fort and overtook it in 1576. But Maharana Pratap won it back in  1582.


Map of Kumbhalgarh Fort
Map of Kumbhalgarh Fort

Standing on the wall of Kumbhalgarh
Standing on the wall of Kumbhalgarh

History


            As mentioned earlier Rana Kumbha built this fort on the ruins of the fort built by prince Samprati. It took 15 years from a concept turning into a reality and the fort was completed in the year 1458. Since then, it has stood testimony to many a tales of valor, sacrifice, deceit and loyalty. Soon after the fort was built, Rana Kumbha was killed by his son in 1468. After the death of Rana Kumbha, the fort went into oblivion. But the fate had something else in store for Kumbhalgarh, by the way of Udai Singh.

       Udai Singh was son of Rana Sanga. After the death of Rana Sanga, Rattan Singh was crowned king and when Rattan Singh passed away, it was turn of Vikramaditya Singh his younger brother to become King. When Bahadur Shah attacked Chittaur, the heir to the throne, prince Udai Singh was sent to Bundi. Vikramaditya Singh was killed by his uncle Banbir to usurp the throne. Banbir's next target was the young Udai Singh to finish the lineage of Rana Sanga. But it was a brave Panna Dhai, who changed the course of Rajput history. Panna Dhai was the surrogate mother of Prince Udai Singh. When she came to know, that Banbir was coming to kill Udai Singh, she dressed her own son Chandan as Udai Singh and smuggled the real prince to Kumbhalgarh. She saw her own son being killed in front of her own eyes and didn't drop a tear. Mewar became indebted to the supreme sacrifice of Panna Dhai.

     Prince Udai Singh lived in Kumbhalgarh in disguise, for two years, before being coronated at Kumbhalgarh itself by the nobles of Mewar. It was here only that his brave son and the most notable warrior of Rajput history, Maharana Pratap was born.

History Of Kumbhalgarh
History of Kumbhalgarh



                    We started from Udaipur early morning for Kumbhalgarh. Our today's final destination was Jodhpur but after a day trip to Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur. The highway was good. Distance between Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh is nearly 90 kilometer. En route, a road bifurcation leads to Haldi Ghati, the famous battlefield, where Maharana Pratap fought valiantly with Akbar. We pondered upon whether to take a detour to Haldi Ghati or not, but later decided against it as it would be packing too many things in a single day. After some time, we left highway and were on the smaller road passing through greener jungles and small hills taking twists and turns. The drive was beautiful, but phew! we had forgotten to fill up the fuel today morning. On enquiring from google and locals, we were told that the nearest petrol station is at Kelwara 10 kilometer ahead of Kumbhalgarh. All of us were saying silent prayers till we crossed Kumbhalgarh and arrived at Kelwara to tank up our car. It was time to fill up our tummies too. So we had a hearty breakfast en route and reached Kumbhalgarh. We were amongst the early birds and drove right up to the parking outside the fort via a narrow zig-zag road. Since this fort is under ASI control, the tickets were Rs. 25 per head with no charge for the camera and Sarthak ( being below 15). It was a huge respite after royal fleecing at the monuments of Udaipur.


   The Pols (Gates) 

                The first gate is Ram Pol, through which one enters the Fort. There are several other gates, which one has to cross before reaching the palace complex. The gates include Aret pol, Halla pol,  Hanuman pol, Vijay Pol. Nimboo pol, Pagra pole, Chogan pol and Bhairav pol are the gateways in the interior part of fort leading to Palaces.                 

Chougan Pol
Chogan Pol

A beautiful pol Enroute
A beautiful pol Enroute

First gate at Kumbhalgarh Palace
A Lofty gate at Kumbhalgarh Palace
            These gates of Kumbhalgarh though devoid of any artistic elements have done their job well of keeping the enemy out.


           After entering the fort, the path on the left leads to the palace complex and the path on the right leads to the temples.

Temples

           
The Fort has nearly 360 temples inside. Out of these 300 are dedicated to Jain Teerthankars and rest 60 to Hindu gods and goddesses. 

Hanuman Mandir

                   This temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman has the idol of Hanuman Ji, which Rana Kumbha had brought from Mandsaur.

Vedi Temple

                    This is the most imposing temple inside the fort was built to perform the yagna and other rituals on completion of the fort. The temple is a double storied temple. It has a dome-shaped ceiling which is held by 36 pillars. The temple has a vedi to perform yagna, a square chatri, and a triple shrine.


Vedi Temple Kumbhal Garh
An imposing view of the Vedi temple Kumbhalgarh

Vedi Mandir
Square Chatri and Garbh Griha at Vedi Mandir

Pillars at Vedi Mandir
Beautiful Pillars at Vedi Mandir


Vedi Mandir Complex
Vedi Mandir Complex

Neelkanth Mahadev Temple

                  Rana Kumbha was an ardent devotee of Shiv Ji. He got this shrine built to offer prayers to his lord in 1458. This temple is just a little ahead of the Vedi temple. This temple is built in sarvotbhadra style, which is open from all sides. A huge monolithic black colored shivling is installed in the garbhgriha of the temple. It is said that Rana Kumbha was so tall that when he used to sit for worship, his eyes and forehead were at the level of Shivling. This temple has twenty-six pillars supporting a domical roof.

neelkanth Mahadev Mandir
Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir

Huge Shivling at Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir
Huge Shivling at Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir

view of Kumbhalgarh fort from Neelkanth Mahadev mandir.
A view of palace complex of Kumbhalgarh fort from Neelkanth Mahadev mandir.

Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir
Rana Kumbha's View of Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir
                 This window while going towards the Kumbha Palace offers splendid view of the outer wall and the temples. It is said that Rana Kumbha used to come here first thing in the morning to have a darshan of his lord Shiva before starting his day.

Ganesh Temple

                     After entering from main gate, when we start walking towards the main palace complex, we come to Ganesh temple built by Rana Kumbha and is dedicated to Ganesh Ji.


Ganesh Temple
Ganesh Temple

Chaturbhuja Temple
Chaturbhuja Temple


Bawan Devi Temple

                          This complex has fifty-two ( Bawan in Hindi ) shrines built around the main shrine in the same complex. The main shrine has mandap, antarala, and sanctum. On the doorway, an image of the Jain Teerthankar is carved. However the smaller shrines do not have any idols.

                Other important temples are Golerao group of temples, Mamadeo temple and Pitalia Dev temple.


Golerao Group of temples
Golerao Group of temples

A view of outer gate and temples from the Ramparts of the Fort
A view of outer gate and temples from the Ramparts of the Fort

Palace complex

                              A steep, but easy walk takes you to the Palace complex. The vast water reservoirs, simple austere royal chambers, narrow staircases which can be helpful in checking the enemy's advance into the chambers all point that these palaces were not a showcase of royal pomp and show but a warrior's hideout.

A walk up the Palace complex
A walk up the Palace complex 

A Watch Tower at Kumbhalgarh
A Watch Tower at Kumbhalgarh

Maharana Pratap's Birthplace

                     Near the Pagra Pol are the remains of a royal garden, where queens used to relax, a water storage tank a narrow staircase leading to the birthplace of the greatest warrior Maharana Pratap. An iron gate installed at the top of the stairs blocks the entry into the complex for no reason given.

Birthplace of Maharana Pratap
Birthplace of Maharana Pratap

Pagra Pol, Royal Gardens, water Tank
Pagra Pol, Royal Gardens, water Tank and Maharana Pratap's Birth Place

Rana Kumbha's Palace

               This very simple nondescript palace showed the warrior character of Rana Kumbha. The person who built the maximum number of Forts, built his own palace so simple. It is devoid of any grand structures, carvings, or filigree.

Rana Kumbha's Palace
Rana Kumbha's Palace

Beautiful view of surrounding while walking towards Palace Complex
Beautiful view of surrounding while walking towards Palace Complex

Badal Mahal 

              This palace is on the topmost point of the fort and was built by Rana Fateh Singh. The palace is divided into two parts Zanana ( Chambers of Royal Ladies) and Mardana ( Chambers of the Royal Men). This palace again is not as grand as its counterparts in Rajasthan. The walls of the palace have been painted in pastel shades and have some beautiful mural paintings done on it, which includes fighting elephants, floral and geometrical patterns. The Zanana has beautiful stone latticework on the windows so as to enable the royal ladies to watch the proceedings outside while staying in purdah.

              The central courtyard has doors leading to various chambers and from here one can see the justification of the name, as on a cloudy day one must be feeling like floating in the clouds ( Badal). A narrow flight of stairs leads to the top of the palace. From the roof of the palace, from here, the 360-degree view of the Aravali mountains is captivating.

Zenana Section oa Badal Mahal
Zenana Section oa Badal Mahal

Courtyard of Badal Mahal
Courtyard of Badal Mahal


Badal Mahal from outside
Badal Mahal from outside

Birth Place of Maharana Pratap as seen from Badal Mahal
Birth Place of Maharana Pratap as seen from Badal Mahal

Badal Mahal Top
Badal Mahal Top

Badal Mahal Top
Badal Mahal Top

Aravali Hills from Badal Mahal
Aravali Hills from Badal Mahal
From the top of Badal Mahal, we can see the famed outer wall of the Kumbhalgarh fort snaking in the Aravali hills and the vegetation providing a perfect camouflage to it.


                   This completed our trip to Kumbhalgarh. We left with a hope to come again some time for a longer duration and negotiate some treks around and take up some walks on or around the periphery of the fort, visiting some villages and explore the wildlife sanctuary.


                    When we started our car back, there were line of cars for many kilometers some traffic jams. We had been awarded our early bird prize.

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Post a comment

22 Comments

  1. Wow ! The walls are huge and long ! Didn't know of this place until I read this post ! I would love to spend a whole day exploring every inch of this fort, but I think it is impossible to ! The interior and exterior are pretty well maintained ! The temples architecture has some similarities to those in South East Asia ! Thanks for sharing ! Adding this to my bucket list ! =)

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    1. Thank you for visiting the blog. I am happy that a post of mine could add something to your bucket list

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  2. wow! Soooo pretty. This reminds me of Great Wall of China. Although I havent been to both, this makes me want to pack my things and travel!! There's really so much to see in India having this second largest wall in the world! Cant wait to see this in person. Will definitely add this to my bucket list, including the great wall of china! <3

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    1. Thank you for visiting the blog. I am sure you will really enjoy the place when you visit it.

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  3. Beautifully captured in pictures and words.

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    1. Thanks for visiting the blog and appreciating it

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  4. amazing places to visit & the images & highlightss wow

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  5. Really interesting to read about the history of this place. This fort has so many lesser known facts and yet it is of great historical importance. Love the photos here. Definitely worth a visit.

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  6. What a beautiful piece from Indian History! Your trip to Kumbahalgarh fort looks like an architectural delight and your pictures speak for itself how splendid time you had out there. I really loved the architecture of Vedi Mandir Complex and the view is absolutely gorgeous!

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  7. Thank you for shining a light on the second largest wall in the world, you're right, we rarely pay enough attention to the second place holder. I would honestly like to visit this one a lot more than the Great Wall of China. This wall looks absolutely beautiful and much less crowded and touristic.

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  8. Loved this perspective and taking a lesser known spot to highlight for us! It is stunning to see the ancient and ornate architecture and I would love to witness the Fort in real life some day soon!

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  9. Wow!! That was quite a detailed post on Kumbalgarh fort. It’s huge. Never knew that wall stretched up to 36 kms. How many hours you took to explore it in such a depth. Your pictures are amazing. Loved your write up.

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  10. I admired your very detailed description of this Fort. It is very unique, those scriptures are something that isn't written only yesterday, a great way to explore with the family. I hope that these place will be secured so that the future generation will also see its beauty too.

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  11. I loved the story and Photos in the Post of kumbhalGarh. Its so huge and never read the history of it, just known as it has biggest wall of India.You have covered different Parts of Fort in depth.This is great Place to be with family. My favorites are Badal mahal and Fort wall!

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  12. When I saw the first photo of this post I thought...this looks like Castillo San Felipe de Barajas in Cartagena, Colombia. After reading you article, I realize that Kumbahalgarh is totally different and I am amazed by the different architectural styles which are actually quite beautiful and very different from anything I have ever seen.

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  13. Rajasthan has some of the grandest forts in the world. Kumbhalgarh is truly a grand fort with such a rich history behind it. As kids, we used to hear the stories of valour and sacrifice of the Rajput kings. The story of Panna Dhai was one of my favourite stories. I literally felt goosebumps when I visited the fort. I could only imagine the scenes of history being enacted at the fort.

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  14. Oh WOW. This looks incredible. There are like fifty different things to explore there looks like.

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  15. There really is so much in India that us westerners have no idea about. You said there was a traffic jam, but is is still less busy than the Great Wall and Rajasthan? If I make it to India I would love to visit. There is so much there I imagine one would need a few days to explore.

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