Kumbhalgarh- Something for everyone
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Getting excited about Kumbhalgarh
The fact that Kumbhalgarh fort has the second longest wall in the world was enough to make me want to take a trip here. But if it isn’t for you, don’t worry; there is something for everyone in this magical land.
The village Kumbhalgarh (named after the fort) is in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, India. It is one of the popular tourist destinations for foreigners. The nearby city is Udaipur.
Kumbhalgarh is carefully tucked in the ranges of Aravalli. There are green forests as far as you can look. And though these forests don’t look that dense, wildlife thrives in these areas.
Rajasthanis living in these areas are very welcoming and full of love. They lead humble, simple lives and are deeply connected to their roots. These people consider their guests godlike and will help the tourists with smiles on their face.
The culture in Kumbhalgarh, like in all Rajasthan is colorful and lively. There are small groups of folk singers and dancers that perform at night. Usually the hotels arrange for camp-fires and call these groups to give the tourists a taste of their culture.
The literal meaning of the word Kumbhalgarh is ‘the fort of Kumbha’. This fort was built in the 15th century by the king Kumbha for protection of his kingdom.
There are stories, and folks, and mysteries attached to this place. Your guide will be sure to tell them to you when you visit the fort because they take great pride in their history.
The summers are extremely hot. The temperatures are around 40 degree Celsius and can easily rise above during the peak of the days. So, it is inadvisable to visit Kumbhalgarh or all in all, Rajasthan during March-end to early July.
The downpours in monsoon are heavy and unreliable. Although Kumbhalgarh becomes more scenic during monsoon, the rains may lock you inside the hotel. So, nature leaves us tourists with the months of December, January and February to come enjoy this beautiful destination. Try to schedule your stay during early February because tourists flood these places near the Christmas holidays and prices almost double up.
Unfolding Kumbhalgarh through my experience
I opened my eyes to the smell of dew as our car cut through green mountain ranges. It was morning and the sun peeked through the clouds. After such a beautiful journey from Udaipur, I had high expectations for Kumbhalgarh. Nature, history, adventure and leisure ganged up to make my stay in Kumbhalgarh one of the most memorable ones.
I was in Kumbhalgarh with my family and it is tricky business making a trip memorable for everyone given their different tastes and expectations. Well let’s just say Kumbhalgarh has something for all kinds of people. We were in Kumbhalgarh for two days and both the days were totally different from each other.
The first day was so full of adventure and adrenaline. They both seem to pair up for me.
A morning climb to the peak of the fort
In the chilly morning, as soon as we reached the hotel and unpacked, we put on our gears and set out to climb the fort. There were hardly any people at such an early hour and that only made the hike more enjoyable. The walk is neither very difficult nor very long. There are sitting arrangements time to time.
If you are in Kumbhalgarh, it is because of the fort. And if you really want to enjoy that climb, morning is the best time. The fresh and cool breeze made my experience even better. Words like satisfaction and joy are insufficient to describe the feeling I had when I was literally standing at the top. The world was moving, and time was waiting for me. I wanted to hold on to that feeling forever.
The view from the top is incredible. You can see the second longest wall in the world in a single frame like a snake trying to crawl with poise and dignity. There are some old temples with similar architecture that add to the beauty of the forest. Don’t be so caught up in the moment (like me) that you forget to climb down before it gets hot.
Open jeep safari in a forest
Kumbhalgarh sanctuary has a variety of species and some of them are rare. We went to the safari after an early lunch and I had low expectations of any sightings of animals because though I am no expert, I know that animals don’t come out at such an hour. All I saw was a hair of a sloth bear that had climbed a tree. Yes, and ample of dogs that we kept mistaking for jackals.
The chances of seeing any animal are slim to none. But I would still recommend the safari because it takes you inside the forest and gives you a whole new outlook of Kumbhalgarh. The trees that you could only see the top of from the hill, now shade your way through the forest and make you feel welcomed. Besides, dogs are good too.
Dance to the tune of Rajasthan
If you’re in Rajasthan, be a Rajasthani. The best way to understand the culture of a place is by its food. The most famous dish from Rajasthan is ‘daal-bati’ and ‘choorma’. Along with that you can ask your hotel manager to invite folk singers and dancers. They will give you a taste of the village life of Rajasthan.
A chai under the stars
There’s an open sky and you are having a wonderful time. There are so many thoughts in your head. Some make sense, most of them don’t. It’s not everyday that you are sitting under millions of stars and you can feel so many mysteries around you. Curl up under a blanket and order a masala chai. With every sip, you will open up a new realm in your mind. That’s what holidays are for, aren’t they?
The second day was for relaxing and reliving the moments in the holiday. We sat lazily in the resort and took advantage of the facilities they provided. Just looking at the hills and trees and the sky makes you wonder. How difficult would it have been to build such a giant fort in the 15th century! Then it strikes, what humans can do to save their believes, their families and their motherland.
The light and sound show
In the evening, we went for a light and sound show performed at the foot of the fort. The magic of Kumbhalgarh is in its history and culture and the show successfully attempts to capture its essence. Sitting under the sky with cool breeze and watching the royal yet difficult life of the kings that ruled the place you are sitting in, takes you to the Raja’s and Maharaja’s times.
It was time to depart and I knew it was a great holiday when I realized that I didn’t want to go back.
How to reach Kumbhalgarh
Kumbhalgarh doesn’t have a railway station or an airport. The nearest airport is in Udaipur.
Road transport is the only way to access Kumbhalgarh. Some government buses stop at Kumbhalgarh en-route. You can get information about these buses at the official website of Rajasthan tourism or Rajasthan roadways.
You can hire a car with a licensed driver from Udaipur and that is the most convenient way. It will cost you a little extra than by a bus but you will have transport facility within Kumbhalgarh and the convenience of timing. I recommend you to hire a car and do it from a licensed vendor.
You can also hire one-way taxi but it will cost you even more with less convenience.
Tips for a better trip!
- Check the temperature of Kumbhalgarh at the time you are visiting because all the weathers are harsh in this region.
- No matter what time you are visiting, carry sun-block.
- Don’t rely alone on the website of the hotel/resort you are planning to stay at, call and inquire.
- Try to make an informal conversation with the hotel manager and ask his opinions about planning your trip. The locals know the best.
- It is best to have a guide with you so that you can know the place better and it will be easy to go to places and talk to people around.
- Ask your hotel manager if they provide a guide and if not, how you can find one. Also ask him if they have cabs or pickup service.
- Don’t carry too much cash and keep your cash in different locations.
- If your resort is very much near the forest, carry earplugs so the howls and screeches from the forest don’t freak you out at night.
- While climbing the fort, carry water.
- If you are not a spice-fan, ask the hotel staff to make you a less spicy meal beforehand because Rajasthanis use a lot of chilly in their food.
- Visit the website of Rajasthan tourism for packaged tours and even if you are not interested in it, you can compare the prices given to you so you know you are not being cheated with.
The best way to have a stress-free and enjoyable holiday is to plan it meticulously. Happy vacationing!