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Kumbhalgarh Fort

Kumbhalgarh is a hill fortress on the western range of Aravalli Hills, in the Rajsamandh District of Rajasthan State in India. It was part of the old Kingdom of Mewar and remains a formidable fortress to this day. It also marked the traditional border between the two great Rajput states, Mewar and Marwar, in their old times. Built in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha on the old Mauryan fort in the same site, this fort was occupied until the late 19th century. Kumbhalgarh, with its massive impregnable structures, and the largest man-made wall in Asia after the Great Wall of China, is a unique fortress in the fort studded state of Rajasthan and is the most important fort in Mewar after Chittorgarh.

History of Kumbhalgarh Fort

The early history of the fort remains not specifically defined due to lacking evidence. The earliest name of the fort is believed to be Machhindrapur, while the Muslim historian Sahib Haqim calls it Mahore. The original fort is believed to have been built by King Samprati of the Mauryan Dynasty in the 6th century AD. The subsequent history until the invasion of Alauddin Khilji in 1303 is obscure. Kumbhalgarh in its current form was built by Maharana Kumbha, the King of Mewar. With the aid of the famous architect of the era Madan Rana Kumbha has built this formidable fortress and its exquisite structures. Out of the 84 forts of his dominion, Rana Kumbha is said to have built 32 of them himself of which Kumbhalgarh is the largest and most complex. Throughout his reign, he was able to defend his kingdom against multi-directional attacks by Mahmud Khilji of Malwa, Qutbuddin of Gujarat and Rao Jodha of Marwar. Muslim rulers titled him ‘“Hindu Suratna’, meaning the Hindu Sultan.

The irony of Kumbha’s life however was that the Maharana, who could not be defeated by the combined armies of the enemies surrounding him, lost his life to patricide when his son Uday Singh I (not to be confused with Uday Singh II, father of legendary Maharana Pratap) killed him one night. Legends say that Uday Singh was struck by a lightning and died shortly afterwards. Under his brief rule, Uday lost large parts of Mewar, and upon his death it was succeeded by his brother Raimal. (more in the History section)

The Fort as We See It Today

Built on a hilltop 3,600 feet above the sea level on the Aravalli Range, the fort has perimeter walls that extend for 36 kilometres, making it one of the longest walls in the world. The fort area covers 1.03 square miles, and the frontal walls are 15-feet thick. Kumbhalgarh has 7 fortified gateways and over 360 temples within the fort. From the palace top, it is possible to see kilometres into the Aravalli Range and sand dunes of the Thar Desert. Lakhola Tank is the most notable waterbody inside the fort, constructed by Rana Lakha in 1400 AD. Badshahi Bavdi is a stepped tank, believed to have been built during the Mughal occupation in 1578. Most buildings are visible from the Ram Pol, which is considered as an architectural masterpiece. The Ganesh Temple, the Neelkanth Mahadeva Temple, the Parsvanatha Temple, the Golera Jain Temple, the Khedadevi Temple and the Surya Mandir are the major temples inside the fort.

The Rajasthan Tourism organises a three-day annual festival in the fort in remembrance of Maharana Kumbha. Light and Sound shows are organised with the fort as the background and various concerts and events are held to commemorate the function.

During the 37th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in 2013, Kumbhalgarh along with five other hill forts of Rajasthan were included on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List.

Tourist Information

The Fort is spectacularly lit each evening for a few minutes and is open for the public from 7 AM to 7 PM everyday. It is situated 82 kilometres northwest of Udaipur, and Udaipur is the nearest airport.

Text by Sammik C Basuu