I have vivid memories of sitting by a ‘Jharoka’ of Badal Mahal in Kumbhalgarh as clouds brushed against my skin. True to it’s name, ‘Badal’ which means ‘Cloud’ in Hindi, the Badal Mahal did indeed feel like it was a palace in the clouds.
I am thankful to my wanderlust parents for letting me have such wonderful childhood memories. Needless to say, I was more than excited to take my children to Kumbhalgarh, just like my parents had all those years back.
Built in 1458 A.D by Rana Kumbha the Kumbhalgarh Fort in the rugged Mewar terrain is the second largest fort in Rajasthan (after the Chittorgarh Fort), and is one of 6 Hill Forts in Rajasthan to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Maharana Fateh Singh renovated the fort in the 19th century.
Kumbhalgarh – A place of refuge
The fort was constructed to withstand a protracted siege.
Not only is Kumbhalgrah the birthplace of Mewar’s legendary king Maharana Pratap, but the founder of the city of Udaipur, Maharana Udai Singh also found refuge in Kumbhalgarh in his early childhood when his life was saved by his wet nurse Panna Dhai of Chhittorgarh.
Kumbhalgarh fort was considered impregnable.
It was only once. when the combined armies of the Mughals could breach the defences of this fort. Kumbhalgarh had to be surrendered due to scarcity of drinking water inside the fort.
The Great Wall of India
As Compared to the Great Wall of China which is 22,000 km (approximately) in length, the Kumbhalgarh Wall which is 36 km long may seem relatively modest, but is, in fact, the second longest wall in the world.
It is popularly known as the “Great Wall of India”.
Kumbhalgarh’s massive wall has a width enough to take eight horses abreast.
Though the fort is mostly in ruins and it does not have the architectural splendour like that of Chittorgarh or Jaipur, however, the charm of the Great wall draws tourists to this place and rightly so.
Seven Massive Gates
The main Fort of Kumbhalgrah can be reached after crossing seven massive gates (or polls).
As one approaches the main fort, each consecutive gate is narrower than the one before.
The gates were so constructed that beyond a certain point horses and elephants could not enter .
The Sacrificial Temple of Kumbhal Garh
It is believed that when Rana Kumbha was fortifying the place the wall kept collapsing. He was advised by a sage that the sacrifice of a Rajput life to the Goddess Durga will ensure a strong Fortification.
A volunteer Rajput soldier (some say it was the sage himself) was ritually decapitated and the place where his head rolled down and settled, a Vedi (Sacrificial) temple was constructed.
Erected on a raised platform, the west facing Vedi temple has 36 octagonal pillars.
There are 364 Temples inside the premises
The fort was built on the ruins of land of the Jain king Samprati, who was the grandson of Ashoka.
So there is no surprise that there are 364 temples in the fort out of which 300 are Jain temples.
Inside the Fort
Rana Kumbha Palace
Rana Kumbha Palace is influenced by Rajput architecture.
The room is very small and dingy and non-decorative which suggests that it was made with the intention of being used as a refuge and not as a place of rest.
Tourists can reach Rana Kumbha Palace through Paghara Pol.
Badal Mahal was built by Rana Fateh Singh who ruled from 1885 to 1930.
This palace has two storeys and there is a corridor which separates the Zenana Mahal (Womens’ Quarters) and the Mardana Mahal (Mens’ Quarters).
The walls are decorated with paintings of 19th century.
There is a narrow staircase from where people can go to the terrace of the fort.
If you are commuting between Jodhpur and Udaipur, the Ranakpur Temple and the Kumbhalgarh Fort are worth visiting.
We reached Udaipur early morning by train. We had pre-booked a self-drive Zoom Car .
Zoom Cars are available at Rana Pratap Nagar railway station which happens to be the second railway station located in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, besides the main Udaipur City railway station.
As a long weekend getaway from Delhi, our Itinerary looked something like this:-
We stayed 2 nights in Ranakpur and 1 night in Kumbhalgarh.
How to Reach
- At a distance of 68 km from Kumbhalgarh Fort, Falna is the closest railway station. It takes almost two hours to cover this distance.
- Taxis are available at the station and a private taxi might cost you somewhere around Rs. 1800 /-
- Nearest airport is that of Udaipur which is 115 km away and the airport of Jodhpur is 180 Kms away from this place.
- There are regular buses to Kumbhalgarh from cities like Ajmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Pushkar.
When to Visit
Best Time to Visit – Winters – October to Mid-March is the best time to visit Kumbhalgarh. Rajasthan in general in winters is very pleasant.
Summers in Kumbhalgarh- Summers in Kumbhalgarh are typically hot and dry. The maximum temperature during the season rises up to 42 degrees Celcius and should be avoided.
We were in Kumbhalgarh towards the end of March and though the Mornings and evenings were pleasant the day was extremely warm.
Monsoon in Kumbhalgarh – Though it hardly rains in Kumbhalgarh but slight drop in temperature during monsoons is observed.
Fort Timings & Entry Tickets
- The fort is open for the tourists from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
- Tourists from India, SAARC countries, and BIMSTEC countries have to pay Rs. 15 while the tourists belonging to other countries have to pay Rs. 200 as an Entry Fee.
- Tourists have to separately purchase tickets for the light and sound show for Rs. 100. The show is conducted only in Hindi language.
- It takes around one and half to two hours to visit the entire fort.
- The Light and sound show starts around 7 pm or after sunset. The show does not start unless it gets dark.
- In the light and sound show, Special lighting effects are projected onto the façade of the Kumbhalgarh Fort and synchronised with recorded narration and music to dramatise the history of Kumbhalgarh.
- Car and Bus parking is available near Ram Pol. The entry tickets to the fort and ‘Light and Sound Show’ are also available here.
- The entrance to the fort is through a narrow road with limited parking place which often results in a Traffic jam during peak hours (esp after the light and sound show).
Where to Stay
We stayed at Kumbhalgarh Safari Camp and while there were lot of activities for kids to keep themselves busy with, we weren’t very happy with the stay and food. The Room rent without Breakfast was Rs.5,000/-
We celebrated our younger one’s birthday in Club Mahindra.
The Dinner Buffet cost us Rs. 1400/- per adult which was inclusive of 18% of GST instead of 5% GST.
LESSON LEARNT: Confirm the kind of taxes levied on food by hotels before dining.
- It takes around 1 and half to two hours to visit the fort. Wear comfortable footwear and carry water if you have younger kids with you.
- The climb to the fort is steep and while manageable for kids, senior citizens with knee issues might find this climb tedious and strenuous.
- Toilet facility (without charges) is available inside the premises.
- There are couple of shops from where snacks and other eatables can be purchased.
- It is advisable to take a guide so that you know the relevance and history of the place as you walk through. Though a word of warning, the knowledge of the guides at the gate (or atleast the one we hired) isn’t impressive.
- As found in most tourist places in India, few Below Poverty Line parents exploit their children by indulging them into begging. An exception in Kumbhalgarh was that the children were masquerading as Tour Guides. We met these children only after we had finished our fort tour, so I am not sure how much these children actually know about the place.
- What do you think of this shift? Should we hire such young kids as tour guides? Don’t forget to leave your views in the comments.
- Rana Kumbha (Amar Chitra Katha)
- The Rough Guide to India (Rough Guides)