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Hey guys 😀 Today, I’m giving you a quick tour of the second most important fortress in Mewar after Chittorgarh Fort…. Kumbhalgarh, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site 😀

A little known fact is that after the Great Wall of China, Kumbhalgarh has the second largest stretch of wall in the world…

Strategically located on a hilltop 1100 metres above sea level on the westerly range of Aravali Hills, about 80 km northwest of Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh has a massive, arresting layout which commands immediate respect.

Kumbhalgarh Fort is the birthplace of the great warrior and king of Mewar, Maharana Pratap (1572-1597), who was born here on May 9, 1540. It was Maharana Pratap’s dream to recapture Chittorgarh, his motherland, which was under the control of the Mughals. The brave grandson of Rana Sanga, made a vow that he would give up all comforts of palace life until Chittorgarh was freed.

The early history of Kumbhalgarh is unknown. Its present form was built by the great Rana Kumbha of Chittorgarh between 1443 and 1458 under the supervision of a famous architect Mandan. The fort was constructed on the site of an older castle which is ascribed to Samprati, a Jain king of the second century BC. Additions and repairs were made by subsequent Ranas of Mewar, but the original structure built by Rana Kumbha remains. He also commissioned the building of the huge wall to protect his hilltop fortress.

Kumbhalgarh also separated Mewar and Marwar from each other and was used as a place of refuge for the rulers of Mewar at times of danger. Son of Rana Sanga and father of Maharana Pratap, Udai Singh II (founder of Udaipur) was brought to this fort by his nursemaid Panna Dai after an assassination bid on his life at Chittorgarh. He spent three years in disguise here before his identity was revealed, and was crowned as the ruler of Mewar at the age of 18 years, on this very fort.

Kumbhalgarh is a fine example of Rajput fort building prowess. It is said that the fort has ancient defence mechanisms and traps that have long been disabled. Sadly not much is known about this beautiful monument to history which largely remains unknown to the world.

Watch my video: Kumbhalgarh Fort 

The fortress is entered from the south through a gate known as Aret Pol, followed by gateways known as Halla Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ram Pol and Vijay Pol. The Hanuman Pol is significant as it enshrines an image of Hanuman which was brought by Rana Kumbha from Mandavpur. The palatial complex at the top is approached further through three gateways: Bhairon Pol, Nimboo Pol and Paghra Pol. One more gateway is situated on the east which is known as Danibatta. This gateway connects Mewar region with Marwar.

Inside the fort complex…

Watch my video: Kumbhalgarh – I

Watch my video: Kumbhalgarh – II 

Unlike other forts in Rajasthan, there are no grand palaces or structures inside the fort. The important buildings include the birth place of Maharana Pratap, ruins of Kumbha Palace, Badal Mahal, numerous Jain and Hindu shrines, royal chhatris (or cenotaphs), baoris (or wells), and water reservoirs. Badal Mahal, the palace built by Rana Fateh Singh (1884- 1930), stands at the highest level.

Watch my video: Kumbhalgarh – III

Birth Place of Maharana Pratap…

This mansion situated near Paghra Pol is believed to be the place where Maharana Pratap was born. It is constructed of rubble stone with plain walls and flat roof. The traces of painting can still be seen on the wall.

Badal Mahal…

Badal Mahal is situated at the highest point of the fort. It was built by Rana Fateh Singh (1885-1930). The palace is a two-storeyed structure divided into two interconnected distinct portions i.e. the Zenana Mahal (Womens’ Quarters) and the Mardana Mahal (Mens’ Quarters). This palace is profusely decorated with wall paintings. The Zenana Mahal has sandstone jalis (screens) through which the royal women would watch the outdoor happenings in privacy.

Views from the fort…

Watch my video: Kumbhalgarh – IV 

Kumbhalgarh has several viewpoints from where you can enjoy the beautiful, forested Aravalli ranges. The best spot is the Badal Mahal, from where it is possible to see kilometres into the Aravalli Range.

Several Hindu and Jain temples adorn the landscape…

Watch my video: View from Kumbhalgarh

It is said that there are over 360 ancient shrines within the fort, 300 Jain and the rest Hindu. The important shrines built during the time of Rana Kumbha include the Ganesh temple, considered the earliest of all temples built inside the fort; Vedi Temple built in 1457 for performing rituals after completion of the fort; Neelkanth Mahadeo temple, a Shiva shrine built in 1458; Bawan Devris, a complex of  fifty-two Jain shrines built around the main shrine; Pitalia Dev, a Jain temple built in 1455; Parsvanatha temple, a Jain temple built in 1451; Golero group of Jain temples built in 1459; Mamadeo temple, Charbhuja temple, Surya Temple (Sun Temple) and other miniature shrines.

View of the fort from atop the wall…

Watch my video: Kumbhalgarh Fort 

Every evening, a light and sound show is held inside the fort.  In honour of Rana Kumbha’s contribution towards Mewar’s art and architecture, a three-day annual festival is held here. Organized by the Rajasthan Tourism Department, the festival offers a variety of cultural and entertaining programmes including dance, music, traditions, games, etc.

Not far away are two more major tourist attractions: Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to many endangered species of wildlife; and the famous 15th century Ranakpur Jain Temple, named after Rana Kumbha.

Unlike Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh has no myths to recount, hence no stories. Without myths and legends, history can be quite drab and boring. And yet, the massive outline of Kumbhalgarh welcomes visitors with a mesmerizing charm that is impossible to resist…

 

Coming next # Regal Rajasthan: Jaisalmer Fort

 

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