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Rating :
''Go for an early morning rickety safari around the fort to spot amazing flora and fauna''

LOCATION : This fort is located in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan in western India.

WHY GO THE DISTANCE : It cannot look more majestic than with India’s oldest mountain range Aravalli as the backdrop. Standing firm on a high ridge, it is considered to be the second most important fort in Mewar after Chittorgarh and is a must see for its architecture.

The fort looks many kilometres into the Aravalli range and provides a spectacular view of the surrounding landscapes. Built by Rana Kumbha in the 15th century, this fortress has also been declared a World Heritage Site. It served the rulers of Mewar as a refuge in times of strife.

Kumbhalgarh Fort has seven fortified gateways and houses about 360 temples – a mix of both Hindu and Jain temples – the most picturesque being Badal Mahal or the palace of the clouds. The fort stands sturdy with massive thick walls stretching some 36 kms strengthened by rounded bastions and claims to have the second-longest continuous wall after the Great Wall of China.

Kumbhalgarh is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, the great king and warrior of Mewar. The fort's large compound has very interesting ruins and a walk around it can be very educative. When on top, feel the wind blowing sharply on face at some points of this impregnable mountain fortress. It is beautifully lit in the evenings for some time and a light and sound show is organised each day for enthusiast tourists.

KUMBHALGARH WILDLIFE SANCTUARY SAFARI : If you want to experience rough and rickety drive into the forest, hop on to a safari jeep and drive through amazing flora and fauna of Kumbhalgarh. A typical safari route enters the sanctuary from the Kumbhalgarh Fort and cutting across the sanctuary it reaches Ghanerao. Safari starts after 3.00 pm and typically takes about 2-3 hours. Request for an early morning safari as that is the best time to spot animals.

The sanctuary is spread over an area of 578 sq km and is home to a large variety of wild life including panther, sloth bear, Indian wolf, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, sambhar, chaisingha (the four horned antelope), Chinkara and hare. The bird life at Kumbhalgarh is also gratifying. The normally shy and distrusted grey jungle fowl can be spotted here besides peacocks and doves that can be sighted feeding on grains scattered by the jungle guards.

Foot tracking and horse safari too are organised by local tour operators here. It is not easy to spot wildlife throughout the year and so, the best time would be anywhere between November and March.

STAY : Here are a few stay options in Kumbhalgarh:

Club Mahindra Kumbhalgarh
The Wild Retreat: +91-9460774368 / +91-9783801320
Hotel Kumbhal Castle: +91 9414162347 / 8003180979
Tiger Valley Resort: +91 2954 242609,242700 / 701
The Aodhi: +91 2954 242341 - 6/ 8003722333
Devi Palace Heritage Resort: +91 9829070075. +91 9950290245
Dera Kumbhalgarh: +91 97839 07100
Kumbhalgarh Forest Retreat: +91 98290 24798
Royal Kumbhalgarh Villas: +91 2954 242 292
The Haveli Resort: +91 95875 26687

GETTING THERE : There are no direct flights to Kumbhalgarh and the nearest airport is Dabok in Udaipur. Road distance between the two is about 90kms. From Udaipur either hop onto regular & deluxe buses or hire a cab to reach Kumbhalgarh.
If going by train, board any of these trains from New Delhi to Falna - DEE BDTS G RATH (12215), BE BHUJ EXP (14321), ASHRAM EXPRESS (12916). From Falna Kumbhalgarh is about 50kms, for which one can either hire a cab or board a local bus.

TIPS : Carry hats/umbrellas and decent amount of water if going in summers as the fort if quite a walk.
Sanctuary safaris are advisable in the mornings to spot wildlife.
Drive within Kumbhalgarh is itself breath-taking.

Source / Review By : Pramugdha Mamgain Nautiyal


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