Nestled among the mighty Aravallis are many forts of the Rajputs, each one greater than the other, each one relating a story of its own, a story which is part history, part legend, but which gives each of these forts its own unique identity. The Kumbhalgarh fort in Rajasmand district of Rajasthan is one such fort which has its own story to tell.
Kumbhalgarh is about 90 km from both, Udaipur as well as Falna. We took the Ranakpur express from Mumbai to Falna, and a cab from the Falna station to Kumbhalgarh. The 2 ½ hours drive took us through lush green fields and rocky mountains welcoming us to a part of Rajasthan we had never seen before.
Our destination was the Club Mahindra Resort, 5 Km from the fort. The other options for accommodation near the fort are ‘The Aodhi’, a favorite with foreign tourists, ‘The Dera Tented Resort’, which offers variety and adventure in the form of luxurious tents, the ‘Kumbhal Castle’, and the ‘Tiger Valley Resort’.
A View of the wall of Kumbhalgarh Fort
The Kumbhalgarh fort was built by Rana Kumbha to defend his kingdom from the Mughal invaders, and the USP of the fort is its 36 km – long wall, said to be the second largest after the Great Wall of China. However, the fort wasn’t the first structure to be built at this place. In ancient times, it was the capital of a Jain king, who built about 300 temples at this place. Rana Kumbha added to this and at the peak of its fame, the fort had a total of 360 temples within its walls, 300 of Jains, and 60 of Hindu gods. Today, few of these are left, fewer with idols inside. Of these, the Neelkanth Mahadeo Temple has pride of place, having been the chosen deity of Rana Kumbha. The 5 feet high Shivaling in this temple was personally cared for by the king who, it is said, towered over the lingam at 8 feet. Ironically, it was while he was praying to this idol that he was stabbed in the back by his own son, who, again ironically, was the father of the great Maharana Pratap.
There are quite a lot of places to visit around Kumbhalgarh-
Ganesh Temple (Ghanerao) (25Kms) – Life-size statues of Lord Ganesha and his consorts Riddhi and Siddhi.