It was Republic Day weekend thus tourists had thronged to the tourist town of Udaipur. We were confident in finding a car that will take us to Kumbhalgarh next morning so did not bother to book the car in advance. We had reached Udaipur at around 11 at night and Udaipur was freezing at around 5 degree Celsius thus we dared not to venture out at night. Even though we got up early in the morning a quick stroll around the town revealed that all cars were booked and no travel agent could get us a car for a day trip to Kumbhalgarh Fort. Due to the distance auto would not dare to travel.
Our next best option was to hire a two-wheeler and since I have done regular long drives on my Royal Enfield Thunderbird, thus riding constantly for long hours would not be a problem for me. In Udaipur, you can get two types of bikes on rent one would be the Royal Enfield, which would be around Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1400, and Scooty, which you can get around Rs. 400 to Rs. 500 depending on the season.
With no other option left, we decided to go with the two-wheeler option and to keep it economical I decided to take Scooty instead of the Royal Enfield. While my friend was busy booking the Scooty, I got down to plotting the charts on my mobile. The road was not that complicated as we were to take the highway and that would mean long high-speed rides. What I failed to calculate was the weight of the pillion rider and the fact that a substantial portion of the last leg of the journey would involve going on hilly terrain.
Scooty have a very small petrol tank and just Rs. 300 worth of fuel filled it up to the top. With a distance of around 100 Kilometres each way taking the NH 27 my fuel consumption calculation were way off the chart and this I had only realized much later which you will learn soon.
The sky was clear with no sign of clouds and the temperature was hovering somewhere near 7 Celsius and when you ride a Scooty at nearly 80 kilometers per hour the wind is unforgiving. Since I was doing all the riding I was facing the full gust of wind, I had to wrap myself up in three layers still would feel the bone-chilling cold air.
After riding for half an hour, we reached the highway and was speeding through the lanes. Since it was a Sunday so the traffic was minimum even the goods trucks were less on the road so could easily ride fast on the empty lanes. This portion of the highway was built recently cutting through hills thus some sections had guardrails protecting the roads from falling stones and boulders.
Riding a Scooty is not a good idea when going for a long ride especially if you have a pillion rider. The wide seats and the seating positions would make your backache and had to stop every thirty minutes to relax our backbones.
What I had estimated a one and a half an hour of riding soon turned out to be a 4-hour long journey and to make matters worse the Scooty struggled with the last leg of the journey when we had to climb up the hill towards the fort. Such was the pathetic condition that some portion my friend had to get off the vehicle in order for me to pull through the steep bends.
Finally, we reached Kumbhalgarh and the time of the watch was nearly midday. Out of excitement, we headed straight towards the ticket booking counter and set out to go around Kumbhalgarh Fort.
About Kumbhalgarh Fort
Attributed to Ran Kumbha, this fort was built between 1443 – 1458 AD under the supervision of famous architect Mandan. It is believed that the fort was built over the remains of earlier structure associated with Jaina prince Samprati of the 2nd century BC. The fort is defended by a series of bastions at regular intervals. Entered through Aaret Pol, Halla Pol and Hanuman Pol from South one can reach to the Ram Pol and Vijay Pol. The main entrance of the fort, the palatial complex at the top of the fort is approached through Bhairon Pol, Nimboo Pol, and Paghra Pol. There is another entrance on the East known as Danibatta which connects Mewar from the Marwar region. Important Brahmanical and Jaina shrines within the fort are Vedi temple, Neelkantha Mahadeo temple, Charbhuja temple, Ganesh Temple, Bawan Deris, Pitaliya Shah temple, Parasvanatha temple, Golerao group of temples and other miniature shrines. The other important buildings are the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, Ruins of Kumbha Palace, Badal Mahal, Royal Chhatris, Baoris and water reservoirs/ Badal Mahal is one of the most important and attractive buildings built by Rana Fateh Singh.
What to See At Kumbhalgarh Fort
- Toop Khana
- Charbhuja Temple
- Nimbu Pol
- Ganesh Temple
- Hanuman Pol
- Ram Pol
- Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
- Parasvanatha Temple
- Kheda Devi
- Jain Temple
- Vijay Pol
- Rani Chura Ki Bari
- Bawan Devri
- Juna Bavji Ki bari
- Buraj Pol
- Suraj Pol
- Danni Watta Gate
- Gole Rao Group Of Temples
- Mama Dev Temple
- Prithviraj Ki Chattri
- Dudh Talai Ki Bari
- Sandh Ka Gate
- Sankhlia Nahar Ki Bari
- Riya Ki Baori & Shrine
- Bagga Pol
- Pitliya Shah Jain Temple
- Tedda Bari Gate
- Suraj Devri
- Kumbha Palace
- Badal Mahal
- Harbara Ki Bari
- Chougan Pol
- Maharana Pratap Birthplace
- Ancient Ruins
- Ruined Temples
There is ample parking space for motorbikes but for cars, there is space but depending on the crowd, you get to park near the gate or nearly a kilometre away. Just to the right of the main gate is the ticket counter where you need to purchase an entry ticket along with videography ticket if required. For foreign citizens the rates are different depending on the country.
You have to enter the main fort are through the massive and gorgeous Ram Pol.
After entering to the right, you will find two massive temple structures, which is the Vedi Temple Complex. Rana Kumbha built this place for performing Yagna after completion of the Kumbhalgarh Fort in 1457 AD. This main structure consists of a Yagna Vedi, Square Chatri and Triple Shrine.
From the entrance, which is, Ram Pol if you turn left you will find Ganesha Temple. This temple was built by Maharana Kumbha. As the name suggest this is a Ganesha temple with Garbagriha, Antarala, Mandapa, and Mukhya Mandapa.
Going up towards the main palace complex you will find another temple to your left which is the Charbhuja Temple. As the name suggests this temple is dedicated to four armed goddesses.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is situated right behind Vedi Temple Complex. Rana Kumbha built this temple in 1458 AD. This temple looks magnificent with its huge 26 stone pillars, which is supporting seven domed roofs. In the center of the temple, one can see the Shiva Linga. At the entrance, one can see a Nandi Bull on top of a pedestal.
Around the center of the fort complex, we can find quite a few temples some in good condition while some in complete ruins. These set of temples are known as Golera Group of Temples. We can find nine shrines out here of which four are dedicated to Jain pantheon and the rest five are Brahmanical shrines. Some of the Brahmanical temples were built around 1424 AD.
Juna Bhilwara Temple is almost in ruins, when you visit this temple the structures to look out for will be Antarala, Mandapa, sanctum with elaborated deities in different postures and a four-armed Tirthankara.
Bavan Devris Temple as the name suggested comprises of fifty-two devakulikas. Fifty of these are of same size while the rest two are the main shrines. The inscriptions within the temple date back to 1464 AD.
Parasvanatha Temple can be located to the left of Neelkantha Mahadev Temple. As per records, it was built by Nar Singh Pokhad around 1451 AD. An image of Ganesha can be found inside this temple suggesting that previously it might have been a Brahmanical temple.
Main palace complex which is the most visited structure within the fort complex comprises of three main structures Badal Mahal or Fateh Prakash, Kumbha Mahal and the birthplace of Maharana Pratap. All these structures are surrounded by various other smaller structures. It is easy to find these places as there is only one winding road leading to the very top.
The topmost structure in the palace complex is the Badal Mahal which was built by Rana Fateh Singh. As with any other palace of this period, it has two distinct sections one for the men (Mardana Mahal) and the other for women (zanana Mahal).
The lower structure is that of Kumbha Mahal which is much older thus look wise is not as grand as Badal Mahal. Kumbha Mahal has halls, several small rooms and a temple of Nava Durga which is still functional.
In between these two structures is a small section of the palace which is jutting out and this is the birthplace of Maharana Pratap.
If you want to go around the fort and visit each temple, water tanks and palace complex then it would take a full day. So plan your trip accordingly. Additionally, there is also an option for jeep safaris around the forest areas outside Kumbhalgarh Fort, which usually takes place in the evening right before sunset. Tickets can be purchased at the fort entrance itself.
I was curious so had asked one of the locals about the wildlife population in the forest around the fort and the boys had replied: “hathi aur sher choor kay saab yahan miltey hai” (other than elephants and lions you get everything). What I learned later is that there have been recent sightings of panthers, which are common along with pythons and deer.
By the time we had finished up, it was around 4 PM and we knew that there was a long drive back to Udaipur. Before starting our drive back, we had to get something to eat so sat at one of the roadside eateries outside the fort and had a good vegetarian thali. After lunch, it was time to head back when I realized that the fuel indicator was showing the tank almost empty.
On enquiring the locals, I started panicking as according to them the nearest fuel station is at Kelwara, which is in the opposite direction and would be another 10 kilometers ride. I kept my fingers crossed that we had enough fuel to reach Kelwara and fuel up. This detour took nearly forty-five minutes, as we had to go downhill and back up.
It was time to head back finally and we drove nonstop with just two breaks in between at regular interval just to cool down the Scooty engine.
By the time, we reached Udaipur it was well past seven in the evening and we just crashed into our bed. Our backs and butts hurt like hell, we promised ourselves never to take a Scooty for a long drive instead always stick to proper motorcycles.
KUMBHALGARH FORT – Important Information
Entry Tickets for Indian citizens = Rs. 40
Entry Tickets for foreign nationals = Rs. 600
To protect from the sun carry umbrellas or hats/caps as almost not all the portions of the fort are covered.
Using sunscreen is highly recommended
Carry bottles of water as the water bottles available inside the fort compound are of unknown brands and extremely pricy.
You have to pay for parking and the price varies according to the type of vehicle, we paid Rs. 20 for Scooty.
There are quite a few eateries within the fort compound and outside also.
The fort has mobile network coverage.
Stay back until the sunset to watch the fort lit up at night with electrical lights, it looks gorgeous.
There are quite a few hotels and resorts around Kumbhalgarh Fort most of which are towards the road to Kelwara. It is highly recommended to stay here for a night to experience the fort in a different way.
Kumbhalgarh by C. Dorje & D.N. Dimri
Archaeological Survey of India – Jaipur Circle
Conservation Portal – Archaeological Survey of India
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts