Lesser Known Places in Rajasthan: Kumbhalgarh

Kumbhalgarh – Rajasthan’s most impregnable fort

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-Abhay Saxena

Considered to be the most impregnable fort in Rajasthan, Kumbhalgarh is a massive complex located 82 km north of Udaipur. Built in 15th century by Rajput King, Rana Kumbha on a hilltop at 1100 meters above sea level, Kumbhalgarh once used to be the epicenter of Rajput power. Its peripheral walls measuring 36 km in stretch is supposed to be the second longest continuous wall after the Great Wall of China. The fort complex includes 360 temples, 700 canon bunkers, a magnificent palace and a small village. The mighty walls have seven fortified gates and several exquisitely built towers. The fifteen feet thick frontal walls made this fort highly unassailable. The isolated location of the fort amidst rounded Aravali Hills granted it a secure existence. Kumbhalgarh is also the birth place of Maharana Pratap.

The construction of the fort had many impediments as the history goes. According to a legend, when Rana Kumbha started the construction work in 1443, the walls could not be built do to one reason or the other. It was then suggested by a spiritual advisor that a voluntary human sacrifice would only solve the problem. As expected, nobody came forward for the sacrifice. Eventually, a pilgrim offered himself and the construction of the fort resumed unimpeded. To honour this grand sacrifice, fort’s main entrance, Hanuman Pol, a shrine was built at the spot where pilgrim’s head fell.

Great forts require great sacrifices, and when building began in 1443, King Rana Kumbha had more than the usual new construction frustrations. According to a popular legend, any work completed on the fort during the day would crumble to ruins by sunset. A spiritual advisor explained that the fort would never be built without a human sacrifice. And here’s the kicker: the sacrifice had to be voluntary. Not one of the king’s subjects volunteered to be beheaded, but eventually a pilgrim wandered by and offered himself up. The fort was completed, and the main gate, Hanuman Pol, contains a shrine commemorating the sacrifice — right at the very spot where the pilgrim’s head fell.

Another attraction for the tourists is Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary surrounding the Fort and spreading over 578 square km in three districts, Rajsamand, Udaipur and Pali. The wild life includes wolf, leopards, sloth bear, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, sambhar, nilgai, chausingha (the four horned antelope), chinkara and hare.

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