The state of Rajasthan is the largest state in India by area and it is equally large and big in its culture, heritage, and history. Historically it is as old as the “Indus Valley Civilization” and has its ruins in it. The great Indian dessert “Thar Dessert” which is world’s 9th largest subtropical desert is also in Rajasthan. One of the thirty-three districts of Rajasthan is “Udaipur” which has the world’s second largest wall after Great Wall of China, called – “Kumbhalgarh”.
It is said that the kingdom of Mewar which was between Ranthambore to Gwalior was ruled by the king- Rana Kumbha. He was a great king and has designed around 32 fortresses of the 84 which guarded Mewar. One of them is Kumbhalgarh Fort, which is the most elaborate and never got conquered. It was built in the 15th century.
The strategic location of the Kumbhalgarh fort made it very difficult, in those years, to conquerit. There are 13 mountains peaks around it, the massive walls around it are 36 kms in length. Kings and Sultans like – Ahmed Shah 1, Mahmud Khilji attacked the fort in the 15th century but their efforts were futile. The great Maharana Pratap was born in this fort.
There are 31 forts in Rajasthan, in terms of their historic importance, and Kumbhalgarh Fort is the second most important fort after Chittorgarh. One of the massive yet elegantly built forts of Rajasthan; it is built on a hilltop (Aravalli Range) 3600 ft above the sea level (1100 m). There are seven fortified gateways, 300 Jain temples, 60 Hindu temples, fifteen feet thick front walls, and the palace – Badal Mahal at the top. There is a huge tank inside the fort – Lakhola Tank measuring 5 km in length to 100m to 200m in width and a depth of 12m (40ft).
The Ganesh Temple inside the fort is on a 37 ft platform. There is a shrine of lord Shiva depicted in 2 hands and is made of black stone. According to folklore, to provide light at night to working farmers, Maharana Kumbha used to light a huge lamp which consumed 50 kg of ghee and 100 kg of cotton. It is also believed that initially, the construction of the wall was unsuccessful several times but after a spiritual consultation and a human sacrifice it was able to construct the walls. To commemorate this sacrifice there is a shrine and a temple at the main gate of the fortress – Hanuman Pol.
The World Heritage Committee at its 37th session at Cambodia in 2013 declared Kumbhalgarh as a “UNESCO World Heritage Site”. It was recognized as Rajput military hill architecture. Situated 82 kms Northwest of Udaipur this fort today is a major tourist destination and it’s a must visit for somebody who is visiting Udaipur. It’s quite amazing when one reaches the Palace at the top and the view is breathtaking from there. It’s a remarkable example of Rajasthani culture and Vastu Kala at its best! The Rajasthan Tourism Department organises an annual festival to celebrate the passion of Maharana and is three-day festival is very popular amongst the visitors. It even includes a light and sound show in addition to various dance and concerts.