Located 84 km from Udaipur in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, the Kumbhalgarh Fort is a ‘World Heritage Site’ and is named after indomitable spirited Rana Kumbha. He got it built in 15th century as second line of defense after Chittorgarh. This fort is also the birth place of the most prominent Rajput ruler, Maharana Pratap. Maharana Udai when was a child, and faced life threat in Chittorgarh got shifted to this fort by Panna Dhai, after she famously sacrificed her own son to serve the higher call of her duty to the Mewar state. Rana Udai later founded the city of Udaipur also. The story is the most popular folklore of the region.
My visit to the fort took place in Jan’14. Though I was not very eager to visit it initially, but conceded on the insistence of my friend Jitendra. But when I visited the palace, I was awestruck actually. It was simply huge and huge. The fort built atop a hill, 1180 mt above sea level is particularly noticeable for its 36 km perimeter walls which is believed to be the second longest after world famous great wall of China. The walls are up to 15 feet thick and the 8 row cavalry could ride on its wall. There were 7 entrances or pol for the fort initially. The views from the top are awesome and plains of even Thar desert and Aravali ranges can be seen from here. The fort area is really huge and in its hey days had 300 Jain and 60 Hindu temples in its premises. The walls run through the Kumbhalgarh National Park forest area. The fort is truly mammoth in all proportions. It is no surprise that it fell only once and that too due to shortage of water and not because anyone could breach its wall or defenses.
The entrance to the fort is through Hanuman Pol, which as per folk lore is the place where a human sacrifice was done to make the fort building possible. It’s a huge entrance gate and elephants could easily pass through it. On the top of the fort the palace rooms used by its inhabitants are still intact and so are, some of the wall paintings in Rajput style. The entrances to rooms and other strategic places have been located as such that any person coming can be seen well in advance. The architecture style is Rajput architect. On the top of the fort is Badal Mahal with a beautiful courtyard. It’s painted in green white and turquoise and sets a perfect backdrop to the area. The room where Maharana Pratap was born is in a separate area at the back and those who have interest in History can not miss the feel of the place.
The visit to the top of the fort also gives you a fresh breath of air and the views and surroundings of the place are such that one can not be anything but spellbound. One also is amazed by the courage of its builders and the artisans who would have toiled hard to create this master piece on the hilltop. If you sit there in peace for few moments and visualise the vivid images of Rajput kings, their ladies and the courtesans going through their daily lives, you feel nostalgic and even feel a sort of sweet taste of those times. You also reminisce about the times of Kings and Queens and when you leave the fort you come out with a sense of respect and awe of the beauty and valor of Mewar.