Kumbhalgarh – The Great Wall Of India

This Mewar Fort is a World Heritage Site built in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha. It is one of the largest forts in the world.

Kumbhalgarh separates Mewar and Marwar from each other and has served many Mewar rulers as a refuge in times of conflict. Due to its strategic position and Fort remained invincible.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0922-1024x768.jpg

Historic Significance

  • The present fort was built by the great Rana Kumbha in 1443.
  • King Udai Singh in his early childhood took refuge in this fort when his uncle tried to kill him.
  • Birthplace of legendary king Maharana Pratap.
  • Though Invincible it was captured only once by the Mughal army and Rajput Kings by deceit when they poisoned the water supply of the fort.

Mighty walls of Kumbhalgarh

These mighty walls are 15 feet wide extended up to 36kms and passing through 13 hills making it the second-largest walls in the world.

Temples of Khumbhalgad

Fort compound houses many beautiful temples most of which are Jain temples and rest all Hindu temples.

Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva is famous for 5-feet high lingam. Maharana Kumbha would begin his day by offering prayers to Lord Shiva. He was so tall that when he sat to worship, his eyes were at the same level as the deity.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_7281-1024x504.jpg

Main Fort

Kumbhalgarh Fort is built on an elevation of 1100 meters on the Aravalli range.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0876-1024x768.jpg

Day view of the fort and temples.

Night view of the fort and temples, when the fort is beautifully lit for an hour every night.

Steep climb uphill to the highest part of the fort called Badal mahal.

Badal Mahal built on a hilltop and offers a superb bird’s eye view of the surroundings.

Birth Place of Maharana Pratap born in 1540.

Every year they host a 3-day Kumbhalgarh Festival in winter months. We were lucky to visit Kumbhalgad during that time.

On a chilly night sitting on the mighty walls of 500 old fortresses, and witnessing a classical music program was an experience of a lifetime.

How to reach

  • ~ 2:30 hours from Udaipur
  • ~ 1 hour from Ranakpur
  • ~ 4 hours from Jodhpur

Stay

We stayed in Jungle camp Kumbhalgarh which is around 15 min drive from the fort. Property is good with clean huge rooms with old-style Rajputana Furniture. I liked the vibe of the place.

Tips

  • You can cover it on a day trip from Udaipur, but I would suggest staying here overnight as the fort is lit in the evening and it is an amazing sight to witness.
  • Since the climb to the fort is steep, it gets hot during the day. Please wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
  • Start early from Udaipur cover Eklingji & Ranakpur temples on the way, and reach fort around 4 pm.
  • It takes 2-3 hours to cover all the main places, then stays for the light and sound show.
  • If possible plan your visit during a 3-day Kumbhalgad festival during winter months.
  • It gets a bit chilly post-sunset in winter months, I would suggest carrying a thin jacket.
  • Best time to visit October – February.
  • You can even cover it on the way from Udaipur to Jodhpur.

Chittorgarh

Chittorgarh a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest fort in India. Chittor was the capital of “Kingdom of Mewar” till the Royal family moved to Udaipur. Chittorgarh is a symbol of Rajput Chivalry resistance and bravery and has witnessed a lot of bloodsheds over centuries due to its strategic position and importance.

The Ruins run chills down the spine. Stories traveling as folklore fill you with gratitude and immense respect for Rajput Chivalry, who fought selflessly and protected our ancestors from conversion and massacre.

The freedom we have today is at the cost of countless sacrifices.

The Fort is built on a 180-meter high hill covering 700 acres and has seven gates. The fort houses many palaces, temples, towers, and historically significant monuments.

Glimpse of its history which is soaked in blood.

1303 (First Jauhar of Chittor)

  • In 1303 Chittor was ruled by King Ratan Singh of the Guhila dynasty. Delhi ruler Allahudin Khilji captured Chittor after an eight-month siege.
  • He immediately ordered the massacre of Chittor’s population. According to Amir Khusrau, 30,000 Hindus were “cut down like dry grass” as a result of this order.
  • To avoid the wrath of the barbaric and bloodthirsty Army, Hindu Women of Chittor led by their queens committed Jauhar (mass self-immolation).
  • Hammir Singh of the Mewar dynasty finally managed to capture the fort, he is even credited with turning the Mewar dynasty into a military machine.
  • Mewar dynasty flourished into a stronger military force under the reign of another Mewar King Rana Kumbha.

1535 (Second Jauhar of Chittor)

  • Post Rana Sanga’s death in 1528 Chittorgad weakened due to weaker Kings, it directly came under regency of window queen Rani Karnavati as her sons were still minors.
  • Thinking of it as a good opportunity Sultan of Gujarat Bahadhur Shah sacked the fort with his Army.
  • When Chittorgad started facing attacks by Sultan Rani Karnavati sought the assistance of the Mughal emperor Humayun by sending him a rakhi.
  • Humayun responded graciously but before he could reach Chittorgarh, Bahadur Shah sacked the fort for the second time.
  • Rani Karnavati refused to flee and post sending her sons to Bundi she shut herself with 13,000 women with gunpowder, lit it and thus committed mass suicide While all the men wore saffron clothes and went out to fight till death.
  • Rani Karnavati was the grandmother of legendary Maharana Pratap.
  • Special mention to maid Panna Dhai ( Nursemaid) who took Rani’s son Udai Singh to Kumbhalgad.
  • When Udai still an Infant was attacked by his uncle Bhanvir, Panna pointed at the bed, occupied by her son, and watched as he was murdered. Panna Dai sacrificed her own son’s life to protect the prince of Mewar.

Many years later King Udai Singh and a considerable force from Mewar, marched into Chittor to reclaim his throne.

Saka – In Rajputs during the war, when the defeat in the war was certain and seeing this woman decide to jump into the jaws of Jauhar, men don saffron robes with the determination to fight till their last breath. Either they will win victorious or else they will destroy more and more of the enemy army while fighting for the last hope of victory in the heart. It is called as Saka.

1567 (Third Jauhar of Chittor)

  • In 1567 Chittorgarh was ruled by Rana Uday Singh II.
  • Mughal Emperor Akbar had eyes on Chittorgad, he attacked the fort with his massive Army to what he called ” humble the arrogance of the brave and fierce Ranas” as few brave kings of Mewar had resisted him.
  • When gates of the fort opened 8000 Rajput fought bravely and were sacrificed in the battle which lasted 4 months. 20000-25000 civilians too were massacred by Akbar’s Army post the seize and many women committed Jauhar to protect their modesty.
  • According to David Smith, when Akbar entered the Chittorgarh fort in 1568, it was “nothing but an immense crematorium”.

Rising pillars of smoke soon signaled the rite of Jauhar as the Rajputs killed their families and prepared to die in a supreme sacrifice. In a day filled with hand-to-hand struggles until virtually all the defenders died. The Mughal troops slaughtered another 20-25,000 ordinary persons, inhabitants of the town and peasants from the surrounding area on the grounds that they had actively helped in the resistance.— John F. Richards, The Mughal Empire[7]

Main Places to Visit

7 gates of Chittorgarh

From the base to the hilltop, the Paidal Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jorla Pol, Laxman Pol, and Ram Pol, the final and main gate.

Rana Khumba Palace

Now in complete ruins, this palace was rebuilt by Maharana Kumbha on a ruined palace which was built in the 734 AD by Bappa Rawal.

Maharana Kumbha lived most of his life in this palace.

The founder of Udaipur Rana Udai Singh was born here.

Krishna devotional poet-saint MeeraBai lived here most of her life.

Kirti Stambh

Chittor has a history of Jain culture going back several centuries. In 12th-century a tower was built by Jain merchant. Built-in Solanki architecture standing 72ft high and is adorned with beautiful carvings.

Vijay Stambh

Rana Kumbha, in 1448 to commemorate his victory over the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat led by Mahmud Khilji. The tower is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The topmost story features an image of the Jain Goddess, Padmavati. Rana Kumbha also had the word Allah carved in Arabic nine times in the third story and eight times in the eighth.

Our guide told us the intention to carve Allah on the third and eight floors was to protect it from any Islamic Invasions in the future.

Padmini Palace
Meerabai Temple
Kumbh-Shyam Temple

Samadhishwar Temple

Dedicated to Lord Shiva and built-in the 11th century. The main sanctum is enshrined with three-faced Shiva.

Ruins of the ancient temples destroyed during many invasions.

Tridev Temple

On the north of the temple is Gaumukh Kund.

Gaumukha Kund
Jauhar Place
protests against Padmavat movie at one of the gates

We visited Chittorgarh on 4th Dec 2017, just before the release of the movie Padmavat. There we protest going on against the cast and director of the movie by Rajputana community.

We all have read about the multiple invasions, Jauhar and Chittorgard in our history books, but sitting here witnessing the ruins and the untold stories which our guide shared with us filled my heart with rage and sadness at the same time.

Across multiple wars, more than 1 lakh people were massacred or burnt alive here. Our guide told us when Khilji and his army finally entered the fort, they mercilessly butchered every person they saw. Breastfeeding kids were snatched from their mothers, killed in front of their mothers who were then raped and killed. They destroyed temples, some ruins of these temples are still preserved.

How to reach

  • ~ 3 hours drive from Udaipur.
  • ~ 2.5 hours drive from Khumbhalgad.
  • ~ 3 hours drive from Mount Abu.

Where did we stay

We didn’t stay in Chittorgarh, we covered it on the road trip from Kumbhalgad to Udaipur.

Travel Tip

  1. Please hire a guide, this place has historic significance. You need a good guide to explain all this.
  2. Most of the guides will push you into visiting shops that sell Chandan Saris, You can avoid it by politely refusing.
  3. Chittaurgarh can be easily covered in a day trip from Udaipur. Leave Udaipur by 10 am have lunch on the way and reach around 2 pm.
  4. If you are interested in history then don’t make it a hasty visit, keep 4-5 hours to explore all the places in the fort.
  5. I would suggest reaching here around 3 pm since it is very hot during the day.
  6. Nov – Feb will be the best time to visit.
  7. Chittor Fort is huge so covering all the places on foot is a bit daunting. Please book a car which can take you to all the monuments.
  8. Don’t miss witnessing the sunset from Rana Kumbha palace.
  9. We couldn’t find any decent restaurant nearby, so please eat on the way.