It had been a hectic year and expensive one. The husband and me longed for a holiday but our bank balance was not with us. We googled ‘Destinations that will not break our bank balance’ and came up with certain options, none alluring enough for us to go. Discussion with friends and colleagues gave us a few off beat options near our city Ahmedabad, India. We finally zeroed down on Kumbhalgarh.
Why Kumbhalgarh you ask?
Kumbhalgarh Fort was announced as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. It has the second longest continuous wall spanning 36kms after Great Wall of China. It is a massive yet gorgeous fort situated in the Aravalli Hills in the Rajsamand district near Udaipur surrounded by Kumbhalgarh forest which is now protected as a wildlife sanctuary. It was perfect for us – fort and wildlife, atleast something would click right?
So we drove down from Ahmedabad to Kumbhalgarh – a distance of 350 km. After getting lost as we took a wrong turn we reached our hotel in late afternoon. After freshening up we went to the fort to click some photos in the evening light where we came to know about a light and sound show explaining the history of the fort. The duration being 1 hour we gave it a try.
History of Kumbhalgarh through light and sound
The Fort was built by the then ruling King, Rana Kumbha in 15th Century. The interesting bit is the king attempted to build the fort several times, but kept failing. A saint offered himself as a human sacrifice with a promise from the king, to build a temple where his head fell and the main fort where his body lay and a wall to be built along the entire stretch.
The fort has more than 300 temples located in its vicinity. This was also where the legendary Maharana Pratap was born.
After the light and sound show everyday, the fort is lit up for 1 hour and it makes up for a beautiful spectacle. For Rs. 100 ($1.5) for Indians and Rs. 300 ($5) as entry fees this is a really good show. Each part of the history was elaborated with good sound effects and lights and good voice over artists which made glued to our seats and to know more. After a good dose of history and in total awe we left the show only to come back for more the next day.
The next day after a heavy and healthy breakfast at a heritage hotel nearby we started for the fort. After entering the main doorway and paying Rs. 10 as the entry fee, we started climbing up the ‘wall’. It was however a hot day and we decided to go up the fort instead and see what it had to offer.
We walked on the well laid path which was bordered with blooming flowers providing fantastic views of the windows and pillars. It took us about an hour to climb up the top including all the photo sessions we stopped for.
We finally reached the top of the fort called ‘Badal Mahal’ meaning ‘House of clouds’. From up here the views were even more spectacular. However there were no sign boards or interpretation signs showing what we were looking at there. The light and sound show did help putting a perspective together but some information would have really helped.
We started our descent to some of the temples when our stomachs started calling to us. After some more photography session we came to our hotel for late lunch and relaxed by the pool. Rest of the day we spent chilling at the hotel and left back for Udaipur the next morning.
How to Reach?
Udaipur is the closest airport and city. Kumbhalgarh is about 82km from Udaipur and connected only through road. Ideally hire a car from Udaipur and do one day trip to see the fort.
Points to remember
- In order to know the history the light and sound show in the evening is best.
- There are no sign boards or interpretation centre which will guide you through the fort.
- The entrance fees is Rs. 10 for Indian tourists and Rs 100 for foreign. There are no extra charges for camera
- The fort is open all days of the week
- Wear sports shoes or flat footwear as you need to walk on slope to reach the top of fort.
- It may get chilly during winters – November to February so wear is warm clothes but can get super hot in summer so wear comfortable clothing, sun screen and goggles.
- Read up a bit if a festival is taking place anytime soon. It might be good to visit then.
Sustainable tips for travel
- Kumbhalgarh is in the middle of a protected area so respect it with no littering.
- Drive slow and don’t play music too loud as you may disturb the animals nearby. Remember the neighbouring area is a Wildlife Sanctuary.
- If you plan to visit the Wildlife Sanctuary, buy tickets and fix up vehicle only with registered forest vehicles. There are a lot of agents posing as ‘real forest guys’ outside the fort charging much more.
- Do not write or scratch the stones of the fort. It is a heritage site since hundreds of years. Let’s preserve it.
- Do not pluck flowers from flower bed of the fort pathway. Let us keep it beautiful the way it is.
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