A well kept secret, the Kumbhalgarh Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a hidden gem of Udaipur. The second largest continuous wall in the world after the Great Wall of China, it is sometimes referred to as the “Great Wall of India”.
Built by the Mewar king Rana Kumbha, the fort took 15 years to build and was completed in 1458. A king that was meticulous when it came to the construction of his monuments, he was known to experiment with various architectural styles. Over his lifetime, he built and restored an incredible 32 forts.
Kumbhalgarh Fort consists of a remarkable 38km of walls. Draped across the countryside and following the topography of the land, the fortress walls are truly a spectacular view. Fort walls were usually straight at the time, making this an unusual and quite pioneering construction choice for the time.
More than just a fort, the complex contains over 360 Hindu and Jain temples within its boundaries. There is also the stunning Badal Mahal, situated at the highest point of the fort, which was added by Maharana Fateh Singh. A breathtaking palace of green and turquoise, it is also known as the “Palace of Cloud”. Furthermore, it is thought to be the birthplace of great warrior, Maharana Pratap.
Kumbhalgarh Fort has had a tumultuous history. After King Rana Kumbha was killed by his son, the fort fell into disrepair for many years. In later years, after being restored, the fort was a main stronghold against Mughal invasion. Although the Mughal army tried to capture the fortress many times, they only ever succeeded once.
In a tale truly from a storybook, the Mughals poisoned the water supply and were able to seize Kumbhalgarh Fort. However, after occupying the fort for a few years, the heroic Maharana Pratap recovered it in the Battle of Dewair in 1582.
Visiting the Fort
Kumbhalgarh Fort is best visited from Udaipur. Approximately a two and a half hour to three hour drive, a visit to the fort makes a fantastic day trip. Depending on the time of year, visiting hours are between 8AM or 9AM and 5PM or 6PM. Entry is 600 rupees for foreigners.
What to See and Do
With the walls stretching for 38km, there is plenty to see and do! For the avid walkers, hike the entire walls (which takes about two days) or opt for a shorter walk. A popular option is the Kumbhalgarh-Ranakpur trek, which goes through the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. If a view from above is what you’re seeking, a zipline runs across the valley and connects to the fort wall. Finally, for the history lovers, a light and sound show is on every night at sunset (the catch– it’s in Hindi only).
This fort is a truly astonishing architectural wonder. Gain an insight into a turbulent time of history, and also learn about the culture and religion of this stunning country.