|— Fort —|
|Elevation||1,100 m (3,600 ft)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Vehicle registration||RJ 30|
Kumbhalgarh is a Mewar fortress in the Rajsamand District of Rajasthan state in western India. Built during the course of the 15th century by Rana Kumbha, and enlarged through the 19th century, Kumbhalgarh is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, the great king and warrior of Mewar. Occupied until the late 19th century, the fort is now open to the public and is spectacularly lit for a few minutes each evening. Kumbalgarh is situated 82 km northwest of Udaipur by road. It is the most important fort in Mewar after Chittaurgarh.
Built on a hilltop 1100 metres above sea level, the fort of Kumbhalgarh has perimeter walls that extend 36 kilometres. The frontal walls are fifteen feet thick. Kumbhalgarh has seven fortified gateways. There are over 360 temples within the fort, 300 ancient Jain and the rest Hindu. From the palace top, it is possible to look tens of kilometers into the Aravalli Range. The sand dunes of the Thar desert can be seen from the fort walls.
According to legend, in 1443, the Maharana of Kumbhalgarh, Rana Kumbha, was initially repeatedly unsuccessful in attempts to build the fort wall. A spiritual preceptor was consulted about the construction problems and advised the ruler that a voluntary human sacrifice would solve whatever was causing the impediment. The spiritual advisor advised building a temple where the head should fall, and to build the wall and the fort where the rest of his body lay. As can be expected, for some time no one volunteered, but one day, a pilgrim, or some versions suggest a soldier, and some the spiritual preceptor and the pilgrim were one and the same, volunteered and was ritually decapitated. Today the main gate of the fortress, Hanuman Pol, contains a shrine and a temple to commemorate the great sacrifice.
According to popular folklore, Maharana Kumbha used to burn massive lamps that consumed fifty kilograms of ghee and a hundred kilograms of cotton to provide light for the farmers who worked during the nights in the valley. Its wall is the second largest wall in Asia.
The Kumbhalgarh was built and ruled by Kumbha and his dynasty who were Sisodia descendents.
Kumbhalgarh in its present form was developed by, and said to be personally designed by Rana Kumbha. Rana Kumbha's kingdom of Mewar stretched from Ranthambore to Gwalior and included large tracts of erstwhile Madhya Pradesh as well as Rajasthan. Out of the 84 forts in his dominion, Rana Kumbha is said to have designed 32 of them, of which Kumbhalgarh is the largest and most elaborate.
Kumbhalgarh also separated Mewar and Marwar from each other and was used as a place of refuge for the rulers of Mewar at times of danger. A notable instance was in the case of Prince Udai, the infant king of Mewar who was smuggled here in 1535, when Chittaur was under siege. Prince Udai who later succeeded to the throne was also the founder of the Udaipur City. The fort remained impregnable to direct assault, and fell only once, due to a shortage of drinking water, to the combined forces of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Raja Man Singh of Amber, Raja Udai Singh of Marwar, and the Sultan of Gujarat.
Like Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh Fort was also built under the rule of Rana Kumbha and is equally accessed through a series of seven gateways, here named Aret Pol, Halla Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ram Pol, Vijay Pol, Nimboo Pol and Bhairon Pol. Only five of these gates are located inside the property boundaries; the outermost, Aret Pol, is excluded and Halla Pol is situated in the buffer zone. The outer walls of Kumbhalgarh Fort were constructed between 1443 and 1458, on the base of pre-15th century wall structures. The complete perimeter extends to a length of 14km, most of which consists of ramparts between 3-5m in height, enforced by circular structures constructed in rubble and brick masonry laid in lime mortar, which are plastered in some parts. All gates leading towards the palace compound on the western side of the fort are roofed and flanked by additional structures. Characteristic elements of Mewar defensive access are the zigzagging turns of the pathway between the gates, the small side cells and chambers for guards, as well as the trabeated stone construction of the gates. The palace area consists of the Kumbha Mahal (1443- 1468), integrating both men’s and women’s apartments, and the much later Badal Mahal (1884-1930), built under Rana Fateh Singh, which occupies the highest point of Kumbhalgarh Fort. Among the religious structures are Hindu and Jain temples of different periods, ranging from the earlier, such as the Mataji Temple from the 13th century, to later examples such as the temples of the Golera, a group of Hindu and Jain temples constructed up until the 18th century. Kumbhalgarh Fort also includes memorials, pleasure pavilions in the historic gardens, stores and noteworthy water structures, such as the Badva Bund, a 15th-century dam, or the Langan Baori, a 15th-century step-well. The Kumbhalgarh component of the property is currently inhabited by approximately 300 persons, who inhabit five rural houses near the Golera Temples and a recent Muslim community settlement, which has developed around the main entrance to the fort.
The fort is entered from the south through a gate known as Aret Pol, followed by gateways known as Halla Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ram Pol and Vijay Pol. The Hanuman Pol is significant as it enshrines an image of Hanuman which was brought by Rana Kumbha from Mandavpur. The palatial complex at the top is approached further through three gateways viz., the Bhairon Pol, the Nimboo Pol and the Paghra Pol. One more gateway is situated on the east which is known as Danibatta. This gateway connects Mewar region with Marwar.
The Ganesh temple was built during the time of Maharana Kumbha and it is located along the road leading to the palaces. According to one of the inscriptions of Kirttistambha of Chittaurgarh fort, Rana Kumbha consecrated an image of Ganesha in this temple.
The Vedi temple was built by Rana Kumbha in AD 1457 for performing rituals after completion of the fort. The building is double storeyed and erected on a high platform. The temple faces west. It is octagonal on plan with thirty-six pillars supporting the domical ceiling. A triple shrined temple dedicated to goddesses is located to the east of this temple.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
Situated to the east of Vedi shrine, this temple was built in AD 1458 and enshrines a Siva linga in the garbhagriha. It is built on raised platform accessible from west through a flight of steps. The temple consists of a sanctum and an open pillared mandapa all around. The shrine is sarvtobhadra with entrance from all the four directions. A stone inscription on the left pillar of the western gate mentions about its renovations by Rana Sanga.
The temple was built by Nar Singh Pokhad in Vikrama Samvat 1508 (AD 1451). It houses a three feet high idol of Jaina Tirthankara Parsvanatha.
Bawan Devi Temple
This famous Jaina shrine derives its name from the fifty-two (bawan) shrines in a single compound built around the main shrine. The bigger shrine among the group consists of a sanctum, antarala and an open mandapa. An image of Jaina Tirthankara is carved on the lalatabimba of the doorway. The smaller shrines are devoid of any idols.
Golerao Group of Temples
The Golerao group of temples is located adjacent to Bawan Devi Temple and consists of nine shrines enclosed by a circular wall. The shrines are adorned with beautiful carved sculptures of gods and goddesses on its exterior. On the basis of architectural style, the group may be ascribed to the period of Rana Kumbha. A sculpture bears an inscription dated V. S. 1516 (AD 1459) and speaks of one Govinda. absulite perfecty palace.
This temple is also known as Kumbha Shyam, and it consists of a flat roofed sanctum and a pillared mandapa. An inscription of Rana Kumbha giving detailed history of Kumbhalgarh was fixed on this temple. A large number of carved idols of gods and goddesses were recovered from the premises of this temple.
Pitalia Dev Temple
This east facing Jain shrine is located in the northern part of the fort. Built by Pitalia Jain Seth in V. S. 1512 (AD 1455) on a raised plinth, the temple consists of a pillared sabhamandapa and a sanctum having entrances from all the four directions. The jangha is adorned with images of gods and goddesses besides asparas and dancers.
The palace of Rana Kumbha is located close to the Pagda Pol. The palace is a two storeyed edifice. It consists of two rooms, a corridor in the middle and open spaces. The rooms are provided with jharokas and windows in stones.
Birth Place of Maharana Pratap
The mansion known as Jhalia ka Malia or the Palace of Queen Jhali is situated near Pagda Pol. This is believed to be the place where Maharana Pratap was born. It is constructed of rubble stone with plain walls and flat roof. The traces of painting can still be seen on the wall.
Badal Mahal is situated at the highest point of the fort. It was built by Rana Fateh Singh (AD 1885-1930). The palace is a two storeyed structure divided into two interconnected distinct portions i.e. the Zanana Mahal and the Mardana Mahal. This palace is profusely decorated with wall paintings. The Zanana mahal is provided with stone jalis which facilitated the queens to see the court proceedings and other events in privacy..
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