The only monument visible from the moon, which has enjoyed a place in one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Great Wall of China, is something we are all privy to. But there is another wonder which lies hidden in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The ‘Great Wall of India’, mostly overshadowed by the Chinese counterpart, is one of the many monuments India boasts of, but which have eluded the travellers’ eyes.
The second longest wall in the world, it extends for 36 kilometres, surrounding the 15th century fort of Kumbhalgarh.
Situated at more than 1000 metres above sea level, encircled by thirteen mountain peaks, the fort was originally built by Maharana Kumbha. It was later rebuilt and enlarged by Rana Fateh Singh in the 19th century. The fort is now a museum.
The great wall makes the fort impregnable, and it has remained unbeatable till date. It protected over 360 temples (built by followers of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism) within its boundaries. As per legend, the wall wasn’t being completed despite several attempts. The king consulted his spiritual advisor and was advised that a voluntary human sacrifice be made. When the king could not find anyone fitting the description, his Guru offered to give his life in order to get the fort built. Today, the main gate of the fortress stands where his body fell and a temple has been built at the place where his severed head came to rest.
This fort is considered to be the second most important one in the state after Chittorgarh and is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap of Mewar.
Tourists visiting the fort are warned of ancient defense mechanism and traps, although most of them have been disabled.
Apart from the fort itself the area has a lot of other things to offer. Various temples situated in and around the fort are a major attraction for tourists who happen to come here. Ranakpur Jain Temples, Vedi Temple and Parshuram Mahadev Temple are few of the more popular temples among the countless others.
The Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary is another major attraction. Surrounding the fortress and spread across an area of 578 sq.km, this place is home to a large variety of flora and fauna including some rare species. The wildlife here includes chinkaras, chausinghas, nilgai, sambhar as well as the Asiatic lion. Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary encircles the massive fort of Kumbhalgarh and has its name based on the same. Broadening across the Aravalli range, the sanctuary covers parts of Rajsamand, Udaipur and Pali districts. Kumbhalgarh is the only sanctuary where you can see the wolf engaged in its natural activities. Here you can see a nice variety of birds too. Grey jungle fowl, peacocks and doves, red spur owls, parakeets, golden oriole, bulbul, grey pigeons and white breasted kingfisher can be found here.
HOW TO REACH
Air: The nearest airport to Kumbhalgarh is Udaipur. This is an important domestic airport, located 85 kms from Udaipur city, and serviced by regular flights from several airlines from cities like: Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai.
Road: It is easy to reach Kumbhalgarh by road. Cabs are available from Udaipur as well as other cities. Buses also ply regularly to the area from Jaipur and Udaipur.
WHERE TO STAY
It is advisable to stay in Udaipur and visit Kumbhalgarh by the day as decent lodging can be a concern. Club Mahindra have their private resort here. There are however some hotels available like Aodhi Hotel, Tiger Valley Resort, Ratandeep Hotel and Karni Palace Hotel.