About 80km north of Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh is a fantastic, remote fort, fulfilling romantic expectations and vividly summoning up the chivalrous, warlike Rajput era. One of the many forts built by Rana Kumbha (r 1433–68), under whom Mewar reached its greatest extents, the isolated fort is perched 1100m above sea level, with endless views melting into blue distance. The journey to the fort, along twisting roads through the Aravalli Hills, is a highlight in itself.
Kumbhalgarh was the most important Mewar fort after Chittorgarh, and the rulers, sensibly, used to retreat here in times of danger. Not surprisingly, Kumbhalgarh was only taken once in its entire history. Even then, it took the combined armies ofAmber, Marwar and Mughal emperor Akbar to breach its strong defences, and they only managed to hang on to it for two days.
The fort’s thick walls stretch about 36km; they’re wide enough in some places for eight horses to ride abreast and it’s possible to walk right round the circuit (allow two days). They enclose around 360 intact and ruined temples, some of which date back to the Mauryan period in the 2nd century BC, as well as palaces, gardens, step-wells and 700 cannon bunkers. The complex was renovated in the 19th century by Maharana Fateh Singh. It’s worth taking a leisurely walk in the large compound, which has some interesting ruins and temples and is usually very peaceful.
According to legend it was here that the young Maharana Udai Singh II was brought for safety by his nurse Panna Dhai after an assassination attempt. Kumbhalgarh was also the birthplace of Udai Singh II’s famed warrior son Maharana Pratap.
If you stay near Kumbhalgarh, you can walk a few kilometres from your hotel to the fort, a dramatic way to approach it. It costs ₹15 to park a car outside the entrance.
The large and rugged Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary can be visited from Kumbhalgarh and most accommodation here can organise jeep, horse or walking trips in the sanctuary, although on balance Ranakpur is marginally better set up as a base for this.
Parshuram Mahadev Temple
Parshuram Mahadev Temple is an ancient cave where sage Parshuram meditated to seek the blessings of Lord Ram. There are 500 stairs to reach down to the ancient cave.Priest of this ancient Parshuram temple would tell the lots of stories of the history and also the formations which are called ‘Kamdhenu’. Temple is located at a distance of 9 km from Kumbhalghar Fort on Sadri-Rajpura-Parshuram Cave Rd.
Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary
Ranakpur is a great base for exploring the hilly, densely forested Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, which extends over some 600 sq km to the northeast and southwest. It’s known for its leopards and wolves, although the chances of spotting antelopes, gazelles, deer and possible sloth bears are higher, especially from March to June. You will certainly see some of the sanctuary’s 200-plus bird species.
There’s a ticket office for the sanctuary right beside where the bus drops you off for the Jain temples, but the nearest of the sanctuary’s four entrances is 2km beyond here, near Shivika Lake Hotel.
How to reach Kumbhalgarh
The nearest airport is in Udaipur at about 84 km away. It has domestic flights to Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur. The other option is the Jodhpur airport at about 103 km away which is also vey well connected to the metro cities of India.
The nearest railway station to reach Kumbhalgarh is Phalna, which is also a railway junction and well connected to Mumbai, Ajmer, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Jodhpur.
Kumbhalgarh is easily accessible by roads from all the nearby major cities. State transport buses are available from Ajmer, Jodhpur, Pushkar and Udaipur.