Day 2 of our Kumbalgarh Holiday
Decided to take the day easy and just visit the Kumbalgarh Fort. It is a 10-minute drive from Club Mahindra. Left around Noon. Usually, a fort is visible a long way off, but this one kept us guessing till the last turn around the hill. Then, it stood there magnificently. We learnt there was a reason for this, will tell that story soon. Though not as spectacular as Chitor or Jaisalmer, it is worth a visit.
It rained quite a bit as we reached the fort. Stayed put in the car for 10 minutes till the rain subsided. The tickets cost Rs.15 for Indian nationals and Rs.200 for foreign tourists.
Engaged a guide available outside the ticket counter. Non-negotiable Rs.350 for a 90-minute plus tour of the fort. The details and history listed below are accounts narrated by the guide. There may be some differences between what you find here and what you may have learnt from history books.
The fort was one of the 32 “secret” forts built by Rana Kumbha who ruled between 1433 and 1468 CE to safeguard his kingdom from mughal attacks. The story goes that when he tried building the fort, whatever was built during the day would collapse at night. The king was perplexed and was informed by his advisors that a sage in Ranakpur could help. The sage, Shri Bhairav, said that human sacrifice (narabali) was to be given, without that the fort will never be completed. Shri Bhairav offered to sacrifice himself. The king was not in agreement with the suggestion. But Shri Bhairav told the king that after 12 years of Vanvas (self-exile and meditation in the forest), he was waiting to end his life and laid down the conditions for the Narabali.
He wanted a 3-storied building built for the purpose of performing poojas. Here comes the gory bit…the king was told that Bhairav will walk up the fort and the first place he stops will have a gate that carried his name. The second place he stops will be the place where he will be beheaded. The place where his head falls, a shrine for the goddess has to be erected. See photo of the place where the head had fallen. The torso without the head will continue walking and the place where the torso finally falls is where the king has to build the main palace. Thus, the fort was built in its present location.
The fort encompasses – not one, not ten, but 365 temples. Temples for Neelkant, Surya, Ganesha, Laksmi Narayana, Chamunda Devi. The fort also has many Jain temples.
The area of the outer wall of the fort is about 36 sq.km and the length of the wall is a little over 10 km. Rajasthan state tourism conducts a wall marathon each year and is a major event hosted in March-April. According to the guide, the wall is the second longest after the great wall of China. It did look long enough!
The fort, like most others, has a gory blood-stained history. In-fighting, patricide, matricide, fratricide and betrayals were the order of the day. The fort is the birth place of Maha Rana Pratap, who stands tall as a great warrior and a beloved ruler – the pride of Rajasthan even today. The adjacent picture is the stable where his horse Chetak was housed. He had built enough stalls to house the next 9 generations of Chetak. Unfortunately, Chetak got killed in the famous Haldighati battle and that dream remained unrealised.
We reached the old palace and also visited the new palace adjacent to it. Fateh singh built the new palace for his queen. The palace has 3 specially designed quarters where the queen lived during the 3 seasons – summer, monsoon and winter. The fort also houses 3 canons. The new palace is also called the Badal palace. We were lucky to be there at the top of the palace on a day when it rained and the clouds descended on us. It was an experience of a lifetime to have the clouds pass you by. Visibility was near zero. We could not see anything beyond the railings. Kids enjoyed taking Titanic photos at the spot. The view of the entire fort and the wall surrounding was breathtaking till the clouds finally cleared.
The guide informed us that the fort was built to be a secret fort and hence, it would not be visible till you reached the last turning and then it dawned on us as to why we could not spot it when we were driving up to the fort.
We did not spend much time in the temples – though one could take time to see at least a few of the temples. Only two temples – the shrine of the goddess at the palace, Chamunda Devi, and Neelkant temple have pujas performed to date. The other temples are only of historic significance. We climbed down and reached a view point a few hundred meters down and got a panoramic view of the fort.
There a few handicrafts shops outside the fort and the guide was keen on us visiting one of the shops. We did not find anything of interest in the shop. You will not miss anything if you skipped visiting those shops.
Came down to Kelwara – the village where Club Mahindra is located. Found a vegetarian eatery. Apni Taani. Had a decent meal – dal, roti, subzi and jeera rice. Too oily for our liking – nevertheless tasty. It cost about Rs.500 for a meal for 4 of us. Very reasonable given the fact that all rates since we reached Udaipur have been tourist rates.
Spent the rest of the day chilling in the resort.