Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kumbhalgarh Fort and Ranakpur Jain Temple

Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan

It was my 26th birthday and I decide to treat myself by visiting the Kumbhalgarh Fort. Located 85 kms from the Udaipur city, Kumbhalgarh fort was built by Rana Kumbha. The Kumbhalgarh is the most important fort in Mewar after the Chittorgarh fort. But personally I liked Kumbhalgarh Fort more than Chittorgarh Fort. It is maintained in a better way, architecturally more beautiful and most importantly it is very peaceful.

Before getting into details, I will start with how to reach this fort. Well, this fort is situated about 82 kms northwest of Udaipur city and it is not as easy to reach as Chittorgarh. For going here you need to hire a cab or taxi as there is no local bus service here. The best way to visit this fort is by taking a single day tour from Udaipur along-with Ranakpur Jain Temple.

When our driver informed us that we will pass through the villages, I thought being Rajasthan, we will pass through vast deserts as shown in television. But to our surprise we pass through number of vegetation, fields and water bodies. The route is scenic and the roads are good, making the drive a pleasant one. We were lucky to get a good driver, one who kept telling us all about the area. There are lots and lots of trees, fields were men and women were busy farming and collecting woods. Though it is just 85 kilometers from Udaipur, it took us 2 hours to reach there.

The Kumbhalgarh Fort is guarded by seven huge gates. The massive entrance gate of the fort is known as Ram Pol.  This gate itself is a symbol of the sheer grandness of this fort. Considered to be the second longest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China, the wall runs through surrounding mountain cliffs of the Aravali range. Standing magnificently on 1180m high ridge and representing the past glory of the Rajput rulers, the Fort also provides an amazing view of the countryside from the top.

We started our trek up the long meandering path. Our destination was the Badal Mahal, named so because of its situation at the highest point of the fort. Badal Mahal also known as the Palace of Clouds was built by Rana Fateh Singh. The palace had a separate section for males and females. It was a refuge house for the rulers of Mewar in times of strife. The fort also served as refuge to the baby king Udai of Mewar. Roof of this palace offer an excellent view of Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary spreading over the Aravali Hills.

Beside the Badal Mahal, there are 360 temples inside the walls of the fort, 300 of them are Jain and the rest are Hindu temples. The architecture of the fort is really remarkable and the walk around it takes you back in time to the royal era gone by. The fort also houses some of the palaces which are simply magnificent. The visit to such a superb fort is truly worth it.

Our next destination was Ranakpur Jain Temple. Thought it is said to be just 40 kilometres, it took around an hour and half to us (including lunch stay). Built of white marble, it is also one of the most remarkable and stands in the league of the famous Dilwara temples of Rajasthan. The temple was constructed in 1437 by Dharna Shah under the patronage of Rana Kumbha.

It has 24 pillared halls with 80 domes that are supported by 400 columns. The upper and lower parts of the domes are linked by brackets that have deities’ sculptures. Above all, you would be amazed to see at a height of 45 feet decorated elves playing the flute in various dance poses. Each column is intricately carved and it is astonishing to know that no two columns have the similar design.

Amazing design, calm atmosphere and wonderful architecture is what defines Ranakpur Temple.