|Kumbhalgarh is globally famous for its massive fort said to be the third longest in the world. This fortress city is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Udaipur (80 kms). It was built by the Mewar ruler Rana Kumbha in the 15th century. The Fort won for the ruler a great military advantage mainly due to its location.
It is enclosed by 13 elevated mountain peaks of the Aravalis. The one on which the Fort is constructed is the highest at 1,914 m above sea level overlooking the approaches from Ajmer and Marwar. The fortifications of the fort extend 36 kms in length. It is guarded by seven great gates and seven ramparts, strengthened by rounded bastions and immense watchtowers. The Fort is impregnable and was conquered just once that too only because Emperor Akbar, Raja Man Singh of Amber, Raja Udai Singh of Amber, and Raja Udai Singh of Marwar combined their forces.
The Fort encloses over 360 temples out of which the Shiva Temple with a huge Shivalinga (Phallic form) is the grandest. The most beautiful of all the palaces is the Badal Mahal adorned in pleasant color schemes of green, turquoise and white. A huge contrast to the earthy colours of the Fort, the palace is fondly called the “Cloud Palace”. It also offers a commanding view of the town below. The legendary Maharana Pratap was born here. Today, part of the Fort has been converted into a museum and a heritage hotel.
Apart from the Fort, the place is also famous for Wildlife Sanctuary. Unlike other reserved forests, here one can spot wolves with ease. Other wild animals inhabiting this 586 square km enclosure are panther, sloth bear, wild boar, four-horned antelope and crocodiles. An added delight is that it is one of the few places in India that provides horse safari while the rough track towards the sanctuary is barely motorable. Something that will certainly challenge an adventure freak. Also, the infrastructure for a wildlife safari has been amply provided. Tents, food and fodder, and experienced guide come along with the package and accommodation is in the form of a camp right at the forest itself. The best time to visit is from October to June.
Another must-see is the Crocodile Farm. Maintained by the Forest Department, the farm has a guesthouse for an overnight stay and a lake where these scientifically bred reptiles are kept. In the winter, thousands of domestic and migratory birds flock here such as flamingoes, sarus cranes, spoonbills, painted storks, cormorants, purple heron, egrets, duck, and rosy pelican. One can also find plenty of chakor partridge, crow pheasants, jungle warblers, golden orioles, gray jungle fowl, and the usual peacocks; parrots, pigeons, and doves