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Kumbhalgarh

All roads here lead to Kumbhalgarh Fort, aka Great Wall of India

Kumbhalgarh is the kind of place that you visit once, and know almost immediately that you will be back very soon. There’s plenty of things here that will catch your attention - it can be the UNESCO famed Kumbhalgarh fort or the incredible flora and fauna at the nearby wildlife park. The thrill of  haggling for wall paintings and silver trinkets in Udaipur (which is just 2 hours away) may become your reason. Or perhaps it is the spectacular trekking trails or cycling routes around the city, that will win your heart. You will feel like you have escaped to a place that is completely unique, where you will step into forts that have stood the test of time, venture into the home of leopards and maybe even take a horse-riding lesson. Then you will realise that you are not even that far away and that coming back is definitely not a stretch at all.

For anyone visiting Rajasthan,  Kumbhalgarh might not be the top pick, mainly due to the presence of other more popular  cities like Jaisalmer, Jaipur and Jodhpur. But don’t worry, because Kumbhalgarh is catching up and once you have walked past its forts, forests and hills, you will understand that this place has a rich historical, cultural and natural heritage that is unmatched in any other destination. And while the Kumbhalgarh Fort is still the star attraction of the state, there is a lot more things awaiting you here - some expected, some not.

VIEW POINT

Head to Kumbhalgarh Fort

Where royalty still resides!

According to local guides, the Kumbhalgarh Fort is the second longest, continuous wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has within its boundaries, thousands of ancient temples, palaces and even a wildlife park with endangered animals. In spite, of these superlatives, it takes only a moment to recognize the beauty and magnificence of this fort, that is also the birthplace of the legendary warrior Maharana Pratap, a popular figure in Rajasthani folklore.

Located 80 kms north of Udaipur, on the western section of the Aravali range, it was constructed in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha, who ruled Mewar during this period. He built 32 forts during his lifetime, although this one remains not just the most popular but also undefeated as no outside army was able to lay claim to it. It only fell  once, and that too due to a shortage of drinking water, when the the combined forces of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Raja Man Singh of Amber, Raja Udai Singh of Marwar, and the Mirzas in Gujarat attacked the fort. It is believed that Akbar later returned the fort to its rulers.

Viewed from outside, the wall appears almost impossible to reach without modern transport systems and impossible to breach, making it even more awe-inspiring. And if that is the situation in modern times, imagine the kind of reception it would have received from the medieval traveller. After travelling through a landscape of wild forests and lakes, this fort rises from the summit of a hill, the second highest elevation in the state after Mount Abu.

One of the most flamboyantly built fort, the entire area encompasses more than 360 intact and ruined temples, (some of which go back as far as the 2nd century BC when the Mauryan empire ruled India), along with palaces, gardens and stepwells and close to 700 cannon bunkers. And while each part of the fort is built aesthetically, nowhere is this flamboyance more evidently displayed  than at its crenellated ramparts that weave themselves through remote Aravalli forests for an incredible 36 kilometres. The wall is supported by nearly 30 foot high boulders shaped butteresses and varies in thickness from 15 to 25 feet, and eight horsemen could ride it astride, if historical records are to be believed.

Historically, there are many reasons why giant walls are constructed - from monitoring border activities to intimidating enemies and protecting vast realms. But building such a protective boundary around Kumbhalgarh Fort is unique, as such a huge protective boundary around a single fort has never happened before. The wall around the fort made it virtually impossible to be defeated from outside and almost a decade to build. Add to that the ramparts of the fort embraces every small pit and bump in the way, there are some stunning and spectacular views of the Kumbhalgarh wildlife Sanctuary and hills around it that you can witness from the fort. Highly unmissable, a visit to this fort has to top your list, when you come to Kumbhalgarh.

PS: Every evening for 45 minutes, there is a sound and light show that takes place at the fort. The show depicts the history of the fort and is a great way to understand the rich and royal culture of the Rajput kingdom. Narrated in Hindi, the show is organised by the Rajasthan State Government Tourism Department and the fort stays illuminated for one hour, post the show.

Time for show: 6:45 - 7:30 PM (daily)

Price: INR 75

 

Take A Safari At Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary

India’s coolest leopard-spotting destination

Think that Rajasthan is a completely arid, with no greenery? A safari at Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary is all that will take to change your mind. A local wildlife sensation that are home to chausinghas (four-horned antelopes), leopards, panthers, sloth bears to name just a few, this park is home to a truly beautiful yet unique biodiversity that is not found anywhere else in the country.

Once the hunting grounds of the royals, it was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1971. While the eastern part of the park is dominated by the Aravalli range, and covers parts of Udaipur, Pali and Rajsamand districts. Its ecoregion is that of Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests, with multiple small rivers like Sukdi, Mithdi, Sumer and Kot, situated in various parts of the park.

The Kumbhalgarh wildlife sanctuary is spread over a total area of 610 square kilometres. It was also one of the places that were considered for the reintroduction of the Asiatic lion, and with such an incredible topography, it is difficult to believe that this place is at the heart of Rajasthan.

Also note that many safaris tend to end at Ghanerao and you can stop here for some sightseeing, before you head back to Kumbhalgarh.

If you are keen to spot more leopards, head to Jawai Leopard Camp, which is almost one hour away from Kumbhalgarh. Located upstream of Jawai Bandh, this is one of the largest reservoirs in Western Rajasthan and is home to flamingoes, geeses, cranes and other migratory birds as well. With uninterrupted views of the wilderness and dramatic landscape of granite formations and sandy riverbeds, this is a unique wildlife experience. In order to enjoy this place in the best possible manner, make sure you book experienced guides, who are more than capable of helping you track these elusive big cats.

Stop At Ranakpur Jain Temples

For lessons in design and maybe, inner peace.

Built in milk-white marble during the 15th century, the Chaumukha Mandir (or four faced temple) is the main temple of Ranakpur. Dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain tirthankar, this temple is a complicated series of 29 halls, 80 domes and 1,444 individually engraved pillars. The interior is completely covered in wrought carvings and gives a true sense of harmony and peace.

Constructed by 1437 by Dharna Shah under the patronage of Rana Kumbha, the carvings on the pillars are unique (no two pillars have the same design) and truly stand testimony to the skill of the artisans of the bygone era. All the statues in the temple face one another. There is one beautiful carving, made from a single marble rock. If you have any kind of interest in the history of temples or even in the architecture of some incredibly created structures, this is a place that truly merits a visit, especially when you travel to Rajasthan.

There are two other Jain temples in the region, dedicated to Neminath (the 22nd tirthankara) and Parasnath (the 23nd tirthankara) both within the complex. You can also make your way to the nearby Sun Temple, which is managed by the Udaipur royal family trust.

Find out more Ranakpur here.

Stop At Sadri Village For A Glimpse of Rural India

Going beyond the fort!

Many cities are connected by threads. Some filaments help bridge the present to the past, some have been severed, others will slowly disappear and yet others are new, still be woven. Rajasthan is one such city and at Sadri village, you will get to experience a part of the culture and heritage of a city that is less visited by very few travellers.

Located only 9 kms from Ranakpur, the Sadri village is a great place to connect with the rural flavours of a village life. Plus, there are a lot of artisans who come from nearby community, allowing you a rare opportunity to not just buy unique products but also interact with them in personal manner.

That’s not all. If you are a photographer, make sure you bookmark this place for some truly amazing pictures that you can click of the rural villages here. This is a good place to not just put your photographic skills to the test but also to show places and people from a unique perspective, all through your images. Are you click ready?

activities

Trekking

Trek it right!

When it comes to trekking in India, everyone thinks that most of the trails are concentrated around the Himalayas. However that is not true, because the Aravallis, which is the oldest mountain range in the world has some amazing alternatives, that is suitable for both beginners and experts.

In and around Kumbhalgarh, there are many trekking trails that will help you discover the two landmark monuments (Kumbhalgarh fort and Ranakpur temple) in a better manner but also escape the chaos and noise of the touristy crowds. The route for the trek might not be the most majestic, but these trail is a great way to acquaint yourself with the indigenous flora and fauna of this region, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Plus, if you are lucky, you might even get a chance to spot some animals as well.

It is best to ask a forest guard to accompany you (costs between INR 200-500) or ask your travel agent to arrange a guide for you. Some popular trails around Kumbhalgarh that you can do within a day include Kumbhalgarh to Thandi Beri (14 km), Roopnagar to Sumer (98 km), Ranakpur to Ranakankar (15 km), Ranakpur to Kumbhalgarh (25 km), Malgarh to Magga (8 km), Roopanmata to Ranakpur (30 km) nd Ranakpur to Thandi Beri (15 km).

PS: The best time for the trek is between October and February. Summers can be very hot, and it is best you avoid this period as trekking during this period can prove to be strenuous for your body.

Village Walk

Interact with the soul of India

There are many small villages around Kumbhalgarh that are perfect for a stroll and for understanding the way that the local community works. This is exactly why we believe that a village walk is an unmissable affair. So whether you want to enjoy a traditional meal at a local home or just interact with artisans, a village walk is a great way to do something unique and interesting on your trip.

The artisans in the nearby villages practise a number of crafts, from pottery to weaving. And in these villages, you will get a chance to interact with them in a personal manner. Watching them work is a complete experience in itself, every part of their creation, immortalising both myth and history. Highly recommended!

Cycling

Discovering a new world, one bicycle ride at a time.

Rajasthan is a veritable gold mine, when it comes to cycling paths, something for every type of cyclists. And if you are at Kumbhalgarh, the best route that you can take is the one that leads to Udaipur. Located more than 100 kms away from Kumbhalgarh, Udaipur is one of the most popular destination in Rajasthan. With its placid waters, gently gliding boats, shopping alleys and graceful havelis, a getaway to Udaipur is perfect for all types of tourists.

If you are planning to cycle from Kumbhalgarh to Udaipur, it is best advised that you stop at Udaipur overnight, before heading back. If that is not possible, there are smaller trails that you can take in and around Kumbhalgarh itself. The best period  to cycle through Rajasthan is during the winter, when the weather is not very harsh. Summers in Rajasthan are very hot so make sure you plan accordingly.

Birding At Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary

Make some avian friends.

The Kumbhalgarh Fort is legendary but its wildlife forests are relatively undiscovered. A popular birding spot, this region is home to multiple species of birds, many of which can be seen flitting about the low canopy. Commonly seen birds include red spurfowl, parakeet, golden oriole, grey pigeon, bulbul, dove and white breasted kingfisher.  Indeed, Kumbhalgarh is where the wild (and free) things are.

When to go: The best time to experience the rich bird life at Kumbhalgarh wildlife sanctuary is between October to June. Besides, being the time when a lot of migratory birds come here, the temperatures are also warm enough to venture out, without too much of sweating.  

Horse-riding

Learn something new!

A horse safari is a great way to explore Kumbhalgarh and its surrounding regions. And whether you want to go on a short horse safari around the Kumbhalgarh fort or a longer one till Ranakpur (takes 7 days) or Pushkar (takes almost 10 days), there are multiple options that you can find here, depending upon your budget and time.

Kumbhalgarh has a wide variety of terrains that range from scenic farmlands to rocky ravines and leafy forest paths and wide trackways. Perfect for all types of travellers, a horse riding safari is sure to add a unique element to your travel sojourns.

That’s not all. Most of the horses bred and stabled around Kumbhalgarh belong to the pure Marwari breed, a unique species that is found only in the country. These horses are svelte hipped, crescent eared, long haired tall and energetic creatures that are not just incredible to look at but also have high stamina as well. Earlier they used to be bred as war horses, which is pretty evident from their high levels of training and enthusiasm. So leave your worries behind and enjoy the wind in your hair and the neighing of the horses as you gallop to incredible locations.

how to get there

By Air - All major domestic airlines have flights to Borjhar Airport. The other cities in Assam connected by air with the rest of India are Silchar, Tezpur, Dibrugarh, and Jorhat. 

By Rail - The closest railway station to Kumbalgarh is Falna railway station, which is close to 94.5 km away. It takes close to two hours to reach Kumbhalagarh from Falna by cab. Other railway stations that are close to Kumbhalgarh include the following:

- Kankroli railway station (77. 2 kms; from here it takes 2 hours to reach Kumbhalgarh)

- Rani railway station (85.4 kms; from here it takes 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach Kumbhalgarh)

By road - You can visit Kumbhalgarh by road as well. It is well connected by national highways and there are many buses that come from not just Delhi but also Jaipur and Udaipur. If you are travelling by car, you can take the following roads 

- Delhi to Kumbhalgarh - 614.3 kms via NH48 and NH58 (11 hrs)

- Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh - 102.5 kms via NH27 and RJ SH 32 (2 hrs)

- Ahmedabad to Kumbhalgarh - 352.3 km via NH27 (6hr 35min)

- Mumbai to Kumbhalgarh - 828.8 km via NH48 (14 hr 49 min)

- Mandawa to Kumbhalgarh - 447.1 km via NH58 (8hr 29 min)

- Jaipur to Kumbhalgarh - 344.4 kms via NH48 and NH58 (6hr 12 min)

when to visit

October to February is the best time to visit Kumbhalgarh. Avoid planning your trip here during the summer season (April-June) as it can be difficult to step out, due to high humidity and temperatures. 

Local cuisine

Cuisine of Kumbhalgarh

Dig deep into tasty food!

The food served in Kumbhalgarh is an extension of the Rajasthani cuisine. While you cannot go wrong with dishes Dal Bhatti and Laal Maas, the number of restaurants in Kumbhalgarh is pretty limited. This is because even though it boasts of a magnificent fort, this is still a very small village that has limited options when it come to dining.

Local Shopping

Shopping in Kumbhalgarh

Souvenirs to take back home!

There are very few places that you can go for shopping in Kumbhalgarh as the options are pretty limited. If you want to buy something outside the basic souvenirs that you find outside Kumbhalgarh Fort, you will have to head to Udaipur, which is almost two hours away. At Udaipur, you can buy handicrafts and miniature paintings in the Mughal or the Rajput style, along with silver jewellery; puppets, pottery and its stone carved items.

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