Dubbed by many as the ‘Crowning Glory of Rajasthan‘, Kumbhalgarh Fort is the epitome of the Rajasthani and Rajputi essence and grandeur. Now labelled a UNESCO site, it embodies the rich legacy and heritage of Rajput power. It has also been acknowledged as the second largest wall in the world after the ‘Great Wall of China’.
It was built in the 15th Century under the supervision of the famous architect Mandan by Rana Kumbha. Its strategic positioning on the western Aravalli ranges makes it an admirable military fort to this day. As the largest out of the 34 forts, it was the second major stronghold in Mewar throughout Rajputi history.
Its strategic architecture includes fortified with sturdy bastions, seven imposing gates called Pols, tapered opening to facilitate archers to aim while staying shielded, and several more. Thus, the fort remains a symbol of Rajputi pride, bravery and unbeatable warfare. The fort has a history of being almost impregnable. This is thanks to its composition that can weather any attack, including a prolonged siege. So, the Mughal Army was able to capture it only once since its creation; that too was by deception.
Situated in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, the fort is approximately 85 km to the north of Udaipur.
How to reach Kumbhalgarh?
Udaipur, which is a major city and tourism hub, is only 84 km from Kumbhalgarh Fort. With a well-equipped railway station and Airport (98 km from the fort), it also has all main metros via air and rail well-connected to it. By road, the fort is an easy 2-3 hour ride. One can embark on by regular buses or a taxi or even private vehicles.
When to visit Kumbhalgarh?
Since the climate of Kumbhalgarh is humid and tropical, the winter months from November to February are perfect for tourism. From July to August, the rainy season is also a great time for outings. During these months, the entire landscape appears magically green and the weather pleasant.
The main languages spoken in the region are Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati as well Marwari and other dialects.
The climate of Kumbhalgarh is tropical, with hot and dry air. In summers, the maximum temperature can rise from 35°C to up to around 42°C. The region has moderate to heavy rainfalls from July to September. During the monsoons, the region gleams magically due to its dense vegetation and lush scenery. However, once the rains have stopped and the land has dried up, the air gets humid again and it becomes unbearably hot.
Thus, October-February, marking the winter season, are the ideal travel months. Kumbhalgarh experiences temperate and pleasing winters. The average temperature in the winter season falls in the range of a min 10°C to a max 30° C.
Fairs & Festivals in Kumbhalgarh
Kumbhalgarh Festival is a must-visit for those eager for a taste of the cultural flavours of Rajasthan. It is a 3-day festival organized every year by Rajasthan’s Department of Tourism. During this festival, the tourists get to walk through selected heritage sites highlighting some of the marvellous architectural marvels. It features Rajasthani folk and classical performances such as music, puppet shows, art camps, etc.
The energy and excitement of the festival often cause its visitors to participate in the performances alongside the artists. Tourists can also indulge in activities with the locals, like turban tying, Mehendi, tug-of-war, and so on. The nights of the festivals are a spectacle of sound light and shading, as the fort is illuminated with yellow lights, making it glow golden.
Accommodation/Stay to prefer
Kumbhalgarh is one of the most visited tourist spots in Rajasthan. Therefore, booking your accommodation in advance is generally recommended. But, there are ample resorts available in and around that area. So, the tourists can choose from a plethora of options offered to them; ranging from budget hotels to heritage hotels, to resorts/hotels near the wildlife.
Places to visit in Kumbhalgarh
The fort accommodates numerous important architectural sites within its embrace. The whole landscape of the fort comprises Kumbha Palace, Badal Mahal and startlingly over 360 temples of Brahminical/Jain origin. You will see the Badal Mahal constructed in a typical royal Rajputi style. With its striking blue durbar hall and with paintings and sculptures that adorn it, it is a sight to behold. Jhuliakamahal, the birthplace of the legendary warrior Maharana Pratap, is perfect to witness the royal lifestyles of that era.
Neel Kanth Mahadeva temple is the central shrine of Lord Shiva, built-in 1458 CE. It was Rana Sangha who renovated it during his reign. It is also the biggest of all temples with over 50 canopies, a pillared Passageway and an expensive courtyard. Here, you witness a five feet shiv lingam nestled within a structure of architectural brilliance. A few other temples include- the Parsvanath Jain temple, the Bawan Devi temple, the Vedi temple, Mamdeo temple, Surya Mandir and the Pital Shah Jain temple. You can also find a Ganesh temple, which is one of the first to be constructed in the fort.
The Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife reserve stretching around 600 sq km. The whole sanctuary spreads over the districts of Pali, Rajsamand and Udaipur. It is home to many creatures like wolves, leopards, sambhar, and nilgai. Encircling the huge fort of Kumbhalgarh, its high hills and narrow valleys only add to the scenic beauty. Additionally, it is also the humble adobe of a vibrant variety of birdlife species. The rare grey jungle fowl and white-breasted kingfisher are the most frequently and easily spotted birds at the sanctuary. Additionally, red spur owls, parakeets, golden oriole, peacocks and doves are also spotted.
Cuisines to taste in Kumbhalgarh
Trying local cuisine is often a major reason for travelling to such amazing places. Due to its location in the Mewar region, the food in Kumbhalgarh is Rajasthani but has strong hints of the Kathiawari regions of Gujarati. Thus, the cuisine here carries the undercurrents of flavours from both, Gujarat as well as Rajasthan region. The local style of cooking and the use of native herbs and spices makes the food mouthwatering. Dal Batti, Gatte ki Sabzi, Rabodi and Lal maas for non-vegetarians, are some popular recommendations amongst visitors. Additionally, the restaurants in the area also offer delicious preparations in North Indian and continental cuisines.
Things to do in Kumbhalgarh
Tourists can enjoy exciting jungle jeep safaris and horseback tours offered by the sanctuary. There are also trekking and hiking packages available for adventure enthusiasts. These treks and trails include activities like the Aravalli range jungle trail, rope activities and so on. Tourists can also experience the light-and-sound show conducted every evening. Herein, they light up the fort for an hour to spellbound the visitors.
Souvenirs to buy in Kumbhalgarh
During the Kumbhalgarh Festival, there are different sections where we see exhibitions set up by the locals. Here, tourists can indulge in regional specialities such as jewellery, ethnic wear, souvenirs, handicraft, etc.