Saturday, January 25, 2014

Kumbhalgarh fort - maharaja country

The historical Kumbhalgarh fort is located 82 kilometers northwest of Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan in western India. This 15th century Rajput fortress is the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, the great warrior king and is surrounded by the Kumbhalgarh wildlife sanctuary in the Aravali mountains, one of the world's oldest mountain ranges. The walls of the fortress extend over a length of 36 kilometers and are the longest in India. There are more than 360 ancient Jain and Hindu temples within its ramparts.

I visited Kumbhalgarh during the monsoons and it was a comfortable day trip from Udaipur. A hike to the top of the hill offers excellent views of the mountain side and it is said that on a clear day it is possible to see all the way upto the sand dunes of the Thar desert.  Since I was visiting during the monsoons, I could not see that far but the lush greenery of the countryside more than made up. More interestingly, I could visualise what life was like for the royal families of medieval India as I walked through the royal quarters of the maharajas.

For centuries, generations of Rajput kings waged guerrilla warfare against the more powerful Mughal invaders in the forests and ravines of the Aravalis and would vanish behind the inhospitable dunes of the Thar. They built beautiful temples and erected grand fortresses to protect their brethren and way of life. The lives of the local folk seem to have changed very little even now as most villagers still rely on farming and animal husbandry for a living and their attire and music still reminds us of the days long gone.

The sound and light show and wildlife safari are added attractions and it is advisable to stay in one of the local hotels and check the timings in advance if these are on your agenda. Kumbhalgarh is one of the lesser known  destinations in India and can be approached from Mumbai or Delhi. It is definitely worth a visit for those who prefer to stay off the beaten paths to explore the cultural heritage of India.

#kumbhalgarh #fort #ranapratap #rajput #rajasthan #udaipur #hiking #maharaja #wildlife #safari #indranilgoswami

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