Our first view of Kumbhalgarh Fort is when we spot part of the Great Wall of India that surrounds the fort. That’s right, the wall here that surrounds the fort is the second longest wall in the world. And I’m guessing you’ve probably never heard of it. It’s second behind the amazing Great Wall of China and it surrounds the simply stunning Kumbhalgarh Fort. The wall is 36 kilometres long and 4.5 metres wide in places.
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Kumbhalgarh Fort Location
Kumbhalgarh Fort isn’t particularly well visited. It’s not in the middle of a city like Delhi’s Red Fort, or Agra Fort. There’s not even a railway station anywhere close, like the easy to get to Ranthambore Fort. The closest is Phalna, some 95 kilometres away. There are no buses that come here and no budget accommodation.
It is truly desolate, in the middle of nowhere. Most people who visit come on a day trip from Udaipur, as it’s just 80 kilometres away. So, in our usual fashion we’re doing it the hard way. We’ve come from Chittaurgarh, seeing two forts in one day because Holi is approaching.
How we got to Kumbhalgarh Fort
We took an overnight bus from Jodphur to Chittaurgarh, arriving at around 7am. It was there that we found the Heritage Hotel, where we dropped our bags, paying for a room for a few hours and a cold shower. Then, we took a three hour trip around Chittaurgarh Fort, had a late breakfast and then were collected at 1130 to be driven to Kumbhalgarh Fort. We arrived at Kumbhalgarh Fort at 1430 and were there until just after 1700 when we set off again
We’d pre arranged a car and driver who came from Udapiur. We were able to catch up on some of the sleep we didn’t get on the overnight bus, as our great driver took us from Chittaurgarh to Kumbhalgarh Fort. He waited the three hours that we’d asked for and then drove us to our hotel in Udaipur. The cost for our trip from Chittaurgarh to Kumbhalgarh and then onto Udaipur including waiting time was 4,200 INR.
History of Kumbhalgarh Fort
Kumbhalgarh Fort is a Mewar fortress in the Rajsamand District of Rajasthan state in western India. The fort is built in the Aravali Hills and, now, having seen many of the other forts in Rajasthan it is still, on first impression, the most breathtaking. It’s one of 10 incredible Indian Forts that we think you should be sure to visit.
It was built in the 15th century. The forts founder, Rana Kumbha built more than 30 forts during his reign. Kumbhalgarh is the most elaborate and biggest. Kumbhalgarh Fort is one of hill forts of Rajasthan that was inducted to the UNESCO World Heritage list in June of 2013.
It was enlarged during the 19th century and is also recognised as the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, the great king and warrior of Mewar.
We enter the massive fort through the equally massive Hanuman Pol (Hanuman Gate), which has protected the fort since the 15th century. The fort fell only once in a tumultuous history, and that was because of a shortage of water.
The Hanuman Gate contains a shrine and a temple to one of the fort’s legends. The legend states that in 1443, the Rana Kumbha was having problems building the wall of the fort. Various spiritual guides were consulted with the recommendation that a human sacrifice was required to solve the problems. A wandering pilgrim volunteered (although I’m not sure how voluntary the volunteering was!) was decapitated and the wall was built without further problem.
Rana Kumbha had 84 forts in his domain. It’s said that he designed 32 of them, with Kumbhalgarh being the biggest and most elaborate. Kumbhalgarh is the second biggest of the Rajasthani Forts, after Chittaurgarh Fort.
Fort View Place for Kumbhalgarh Fort
Arriving at the fort, perhaps one kilometre before you get to the gate there’s a small scrub of parking, this is where you’ll go for your first view of the fort.
Kumbhalgarh Fort Layout
The Great Wall of India
The walls surrounding the fort are around 36 kilometres long, not all of it in good repair, but certainly the walls that you’ll visit are in exceedingly good repair. The best views are from the top of the Badal Palace, but that’s right at the top of the fort, so we made our way slowly up to the top and spent around 3 hours visiting.
There’s a lot of walking involved in this fort, there are more than 350 temples here, most of which are Jain, the remainder are Hindu. There are also palaces throughout the fort, and it’s not possible to use vehicles within the fort.
We begin our journey within the fort by passing through the entrance gate, and heading to the left, past the Ganesha and Sawmi Marayan Temples to go and view the Palaces. The vast majority of the temples that we’ll visit are on the right of the entrance gate, but more on those later.
Kumbhalgarh Fort Palaces
There are three palaces inside Kumbhalagh Fort – the Kumbha Palace, Badal Mahal and the Birthplace of the great warrior Maharana Pratap. There’s a road (walking only) that leads up through the successive palaces, passing the Ganesha and Swami Marayan Temples and passing through the Padga Pol (Gate).
The first palace we find on the way up is the Kumbha Palace.
The Kumbha Palace
Located close to the magnificent Padga Pole, the palace is a good example of Rajput architecture. There’s a blue durbar hall, there are corridors that separate the men’s palace from the women’s palace – the zanana. Some rooms in the zanana have glorious paintings of elephants, crocodiles and camels.
Jhalia ka Malia
The Palace of the Queen Jhalia is the believed birthplace of Maharana Pratap and its signposted so you can’t miss it. If the area is open, there are traces of ancient paintings still to be seen on the inner walls.
The Badal Mahal
Situated right at the top of the fort, the Badal Mahal is also known as the Palace of the Clouds, this palace was built by Rana Fateh Singh. In direct contrast to the stark beauty of the fort, this palace is painted in green, white and turquoise. There are separate sections for males and females, with the carved stone windows that allowed the queen and other ladies of the court to see the proceedings while remaining hidden.
The views from here are quite simply stunning. It’s possible on a clear day to see the sand dunes of the Thar Desert from here. < we’ll be taking a Jaisalmer Camel Safari into that desert soon!
After enjoying the glorious views from the Palace of the Clouds, we make our way down to explore some of the temples.
Kumbhalgarh Fort Temples
To the right of the entrance gate to the fort are the main temples of the Fort. The Vedi Complex of temples, the Neelkanth Mahadeva Temple and the Parsvanath Temple. It’s an interesting walk through the temple area. This is also where the evening sound and light show (Hindu only) takes place. We won’t be staying for that, so we take a final walk along the walls and head for our car.
Our next stop is Udaipur, we’ll be there for a few days, including the Indian festival of Holi.
UNESCO Sites to Visit in India
If you like visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, then you’ll love our guides to India’s best World Heritage sites
- Champaner Pavagadh, in Gujarat
- The Taj Mahal in Agra
- The Ajanta Caves
- Ellora Caves
- Khajuraho’s Temples
- Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi
- The Hill Forts of Rajasthan
- The Darjeeling Hill Railway
- Qutub Minar in Delhi
- The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya
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