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shalini_md Udaipur - A travel report by Shalini
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Udaipur,  India - flag India
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shalini_md's travel reports

Kumbhalgarh-A refuge and safe haven

  20 votes
The story of Kumbhalgarh is intrinsically linked to the story of Chittaur.(Please refer my earlier report)It fills in the missing gaps in the history lesson of Chittaur :-) report of the month contest
Jul 2007


One of the entry gates
One of the entry gates
Kumbhalgarh fort is located at a distance of 60kms from Udaipur and can be covered as a day-trip from your base at Udaipur. The most convenient way to reach here is by private cab.The Kumbhalgarh fort stretches across 36kms of the Aravalli mountains and is at a height of 1100 mts above sea-level.

One thing about the fort that immediately strikes you is the austerity of design. No fancy carvings, or glorifying monuments here as in Chittaurgarh. Every thing about the fort seems to have been designed with defense and security as the prime motive than royal splendour.The fort was designed and built by Rana Kumbha.It is guarded by seven gates and further strengthened by rounded bastions and watchtowers.Everywhere, the emphasis being on defense mechanisms.It was meant to be a safe refuge from Chittaur in times of strife, which were many.

Now a brief history lesson..Kumbhalgarh is where prince Udai was smuggled to from Chittaur in 1535 when Chittaur was under siege.The siege had ended with the women committing jauhar and the men riding out to fight till their death. This left prince Udai as the successor to the throne.Legend has it that when some other relatives came to kill the young prince so that they could usurp the throne, the prince's nurse/governess Panna dai quickly put on the prince's clothes on her son and put him in the prince's bed instead.Thus, prince Udai's life was saved because of her sacrifice. He went on to become the founder of Udaipur city. Kumbhalgarh is also the birthplace of legendary Maharana Pratap who fought with Akbar's army in the historic battle of Haldighati in 1576.Maharana Pratap's horse Chetak is no less a hero according to legends.How brave chetak carried Maharan Pratap back to the safety of his camp despite being seriously injured and then gave up its life is part of folklore.

Favourite spots:
View of fort and palace
View of fort and palace
After buying the entrance tickets from the first of the seven gates, we started walking up the inclined path, passing through the remaining six gates.

The fort seemed to be a favourite picnic spot for the locals, both grownups and school children. It was nice to see the local women wearing traditional clothes and jewellery. Many of them had covered their faces with the pallu of their sari. There was a group of more than a 100 schoolchildren.They were quite noisy and all over the place.We could see that their teachers were having a tough time trying to control them but hey picnics are meant for having fun :-) All the locals were physically more fit than us,walking up the inclined pathway with ease while we were huffing and puffing all the way. I made a resolution(maybe the 100th time!) to exercise more regularly.

What's really great:
View of Aravalli Hills from the palace terrace
View of Aravalli Hills from the palace terrace
Finally, after a long walk with numerous stops for pictures, we reached the top of the fort where the main palace, the Bada Mahal is.The passageways were narrow, the doors were low .. all designed to slow down the enemy's progress if they got this far.It was a pity to see the amount of damage done to the walls by vandals inscribing their names.(Who says there is illiteracy in India!)Some rooms had been painstakingly restored by the government and locked up to avoid further damage by visitors.However I have my doubts about the kind of restoration done.. the original walls were of a special composition which looked like plaster of paris and was very smooth. The restored sections were all done with modern construction materials and paints.

Do climb up to the terrace to get magnificent views of the Aravalli hills. That really was the best part.

Sights:
Maharana Pratap's Birthplace
Maharana Pratap's Birthplace
1. Bada Mahal
The palace complex situated at the top of the hill. It follows the pattern seen in many Rajasthan palaces. So, you have a mardana (men's quarters) and a zenana (women's quarters). All the connecting passageways and doors are very narrow and low to impede enemy's progress. Then you can see the other buildings such as the kitchen complex and the stables.
Then our guide took us to a room which had a 70 feet deep hole in the corner. According to the guide that was the place used by inhabitants to answer nature's calls.

2. View of arravalis from terrace top of the palace

3. Shiva temple with nearly 9ft high Shivling.
The temple is still in use by the local people who stay in houses adjoining the fort walls.

4. Room where Maharana Pratap was born
This is a simple, pink building having atmost 2 small rooms. But is highly revered by the local people for whom Maharana Pratap is a legend and a great hero

Accommodations:
The rounded fort walls
The rounded fort walls
It is better to halt at Udaipur and make a day trip to Kumbhalgarh. There are hardly any decent places to stay at Kumbhalgarh. When we went there, a Mahindra Tourist Resort was under construction. So maybe if you go after 1-2 years, you will have that option.But for now, you can choose from the many options in Udaipur.
We stayed at Hotel Kajri run by the Rajathan Tourism Development Corporation.
Hotel Kajri,
Shastri Circle
Udaipur , India.
Phone :- 0294-2410501

Nightlife:
As our night halt was at Udaipur, on the way back, we thought of visiting Haldighati at the suggestion of our driver. The ride was really beautiful especially with the setting sun. As we neared Haldighati, the colour of the soil became somewhat yellowish. Thats how the place got its name.(Haldi meaning, turmeric).But the destination itself was a damp squib. There was a memeorial to Chetak the horse. And then there was this museum where they made us sit infront of a giant TV screen to play back a video depicting the battle. Then there was this very very primitive robotic display which again shows the battle scene.

We left for Udaipur city soon after. Though it was only 7pm,there was not a soul outside till we reached the city outskirts. It was clear that nightlife in Kumbhalgarh was non-existent.

Hangouts:
The countryside
The countryside
Take your time on the ride from Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh.The journey was as interesting as the destination.We enjoyed the view of the aravallis, the lush green fields, small village ponds with lots of ducks, an occasional herd of goats, the list goes on and on.
Be prepared for some patches of bad roads though.

Restaurants:
Another view of fort complex
Another view of fort complex
Lot of Dhabas at the foot of the fort. One specially recommended was Lucky's Dhaba which is about a km away from the fort entrance. The food was yummy, especially the chutney prepared from coriander leaves. But be prepared for long wait time as he starts cooking only after you have given your orders.He actually went to the adjoining field and plucked some of the vegetables to be used in the cooking!Talk about farm fresh!

Other recommendations:
Temple Complex within the fort walls
Temple Complex within the fort walls
We found that there are safaris or treks that can be arranged to the Kumbhalgarh wildlife sanctuary behind the fort.We missed it because we din't have time to fit it in our schedule.

Published on Friday July 13th, 2007


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Thu, Aug 09 2007 - 09:02 AM rating by jorgesanchez

wonderful report! Thanks

Sat, Aug 04 2007 - 02:33 AM rating by downundergal

Congratulations on RoM - its well deserved. An interesting history lesson with some great photos, well done.
Cheers,
Kerrie

Fri, Aug 03 2007 - 08:27 AM rating by adampl

Superior pictures plus down-to-earth info. Many thanks!

Mon, Jul 30 2007 - 04:16 AM rating by adisidh

Shalini.. this is very nice report and give us complete picture about area.
Keep it up , waiting for more reports

Mon, Jul 16 2007 - 03:27 PM rating by eirekay

Shalini,
Kumbhalgarh is one of the places I missed when i visited Upaipur. Thank you so much for bringing it to life here! nicely done!

Eire

Sun, Jul 15 2007 - 02:55 PM rating by mistybleu

Lovely reports, filled with lots of information. - I second it.

Rgds

Amanda

Sat, Jul 14 2007 - 07:20 AM rating by marianne

Definitely next month's RoM.

Sat, Jul 14 2007 - 02:54 AM rating by rangutan

Your reserch and photos are suitable and impressive. This is a wonderful supplement to the "eirekay" report on Udaipur, valuable information from another view.

Fri, Jul 13 2007 - 05:45 PM rating by akhila

Shalini, this is just perfect! Thanks for the lovely, detailed account.
Best regards,

Fri, Jul 13 2007 - 11:26 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

great report and nice pictures in the report ,I wish it gets in top report of month .
ravi

Fri, Jul 13 2007 - 05:11 AM rating by davidx

Most interesting with fine personal additions to fascinating history. Thanks.

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