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Kumbhalgarh: The Great Wall of India

Kumbhalgarh: The Great Wall of India

access_time September 25, 2013 chat_bubble_outline 0 comments 3413 views

We’ve all heard of the Great Wall of China, but did you know there’s a Great Wall of India too? Rashmi Deshpande explores…

An arial view of Kumbhalgarh

An arial view of Kumbhalgarh; Hemantisbest;

64 kilometres North West of Udaipur, lies the fortress of Kumbhalgarh, the birthplace of Maharana Pratap Singh (1568–1597), the Rajput warrior who opposed the Mughal ruler, Akbar. Surrounded by the mighty Aravali hills, the impregnable fortress of Kumbhalgarh is protected by thirteen mountain peaks and looks down at the sand dunes of the Thar desert from an imposing height of 914 meters (2998.69 feet) above sea level.

Built by Rana Kumbha (1419-63) almost half a millennium ago during the 15th century, and enlarged through the 19th century, the thick walls of this impregnable fortress snake through 36 kilometres of mountains and valleys. 15 metres thick at its broadest, the wall is big enough for eight horses to ride abreast of each other.

Second only to the Great Wall of China, it is the second-longest continuous wall on the planet!

Ram Pol, one of the seven gates of Kumbhalgarh fort; Shivam Chaturvedi;

The fort has seven imposing gates that stand guard as you approach the mountain fortress. Beautifully masoned, the crenellated walls are flanked by seven ramparts, rounded bastions and immense watch towers that have decorative flourishes along the top.

The imposing Kumbalgarh fort is a must-visit on any trip to Rajasthan, just for the sight of the hulking, imposing construction, stacked on top of a mountain overlooking the desert below. The fort houses more than 300 ancient temples and the perfectly-built  Rana Kumbha Palace, a two-storey edifice, with jharokas and windows carved in stone.

Badal Mahal is another palace within the complex with two distinct portions–the Zanana Mahal for the queens, and the Mardana Mahal for male members of the palace. The palace is profusely decorated with murals and wall paintings and stone jalis along the walls. Legend has it that Jhalia ka Maliya, the palace of Queen Jhali, is where Maharana Pratap was born.

Kumbhalgarh fort remained impregnable till the end, falling only to the combined forces of Emperor Akbar, the ruler of Amber, the Sultan of Gujarat and the ruler of Marwar; not by direct force, but tragically, due to a shortage of water.

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If ever there was a career that involved the study of sleeping cats, Rashmi Deshpande would probably be in it. But for now, she is in an industry she loves--the travel industry. Rashmi has worked with Femina as an Assistant Manager, and freelanced for several online and offline publications such as Lonely Planet India magazine and Nat Geo Traveller India. She currently works as the online content manager with Cox & Kings.

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