Kumbhalgarh Fort is located in westerly range of Aravalli Hills and is famous as a mewar fortress in Rajsamand District of Rajasthan state in western India. The fort is a World Heritage Site including hill forts of Rajasthan and is situated 82 Km northwest of Udaipur by road. The fort was built by Rana kumbha in 15th century and become larger in the 19th century. Kumbhalgarh is the birth place of Maharana Pratab, who was a great king and the warrior of Mewar. The fort is now open to the public and it the most important fort in Mewar after Chittaurgarh. The fort along with five other forts of Rajasthan was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 by the World Heritage Committee in their 37th session which was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Fort is the famous for its wall, which is the 2nd largest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China and is the 2nd largest fort in Rajasthan after Chittorgarh Fort.
Kumbha and his dynasty (who were Sisodia Rajputs descendents) built and ruled the Kumbhalgarh. Kumbhalgarh was personally designed by the King of Mewar “Rana Kumbha” whose kingdom was extended from Ranthambore to Gwalior and larger area of Madhya Pradesh as well as Rajasthan. He had 84 forts in his control in which 32 of them was designed by Rana Kumbha. Kumbhalgarh is the largest and most elaborate among them.
At the time of war or any danger rulers of Mewar used to hide at a refugee place which is located between Mewar and Marwar, the place which was separated by Kumbhalgarh. 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 Mirzas in Gujarat.
Another instance, when Ahmed Shah of Gujarat attacked the fort in 1457, but found the effort futile. There was a local belief then that the Banmata deity in the fort protected it and hence he destroyed the temple. There were further attempts in 1458-59 and 1467 by Mahmud Khilji, but it also proved futile. Akbar’s general, Shabhbaz Khan, is believed to have taken control of the fort in 1576. In 1818, an armed band of Sanyasins formed a garrison to protect the fort, but was convinced by Tod and the fort was taken over by the Marathas. There were additions made by Maharanas of Mewar, but the original structure built by Maharana Kumbha remains. The residential buildings and temples are well-preserved. The fort is also known to be the birth place of Maha Rana Pratap.
Every year with great joy and enlightenment, a three day festival is organized by the Rajasthan Tourism Development in the fort in the memory and recognition of Maharana Kumbha towards arts and architecture. Sound and light shows are organized with the fort as the background. Various concerts and dance events are also organised to commemorate the function. The other events during the festival are Heritage Fort Walk, turban tying, tug-of war and mehendi mandana among others.
Amongst Rajput rulers, the flowering of arts and culture during Kumbha’s reign is exceeded only by Bhoja Parmara (Bhoja I). Maharana Kumbha is credited with writing the Samgita-raja, the Rasika-priya commentary on the Gitagovinda, the Sudaprabandha, and the Kamaraja-ratisara. No copies of the Sangita-ratnakara and Sangita-krama-dipaka (two books on music by Rana Kumbha) have survived. During Rana Kumbha’s reign, the scholar Atri and his son Mahesa wrote the prashasti (edict) of the Chittor Kirti-stambha and Kahana Vyasa wrote the Ekalinga-mahamatya.
Walls of Kumbhalgarh expanse 36 km, which is 2nd largest wall in the world after “The Great Wall of China” and located on a hilltop 1,100 m (3,600 ft) above the sea level on the Aravalli range.
It has 7 fortified gateways which is used as a defensive works as protection against attack and the most forward part of the wall is 15 feet thick. There are over 360 temples within the fort, 300 ancient Jain and the rest Hindu. From the palace top, it is possible to see kilometers into the Aravalli Range. The sand dunes of the Thar Desert can be seen from the fort walls. It is believed that the Great King Maharana Kumbha provided 50 kilograms of ghee and 100 kilograms of cotton to provide light to the farmers who used to work during nights in the valley.
Death of Rana Kumbha and aftermath:
Rana Kumbha was killed by his son Udaysimha (Udaysing I). Udaysingh himself did not live long and killed by a lightning strike in Delhi, after he went to offer his daughter in marriage to the Delhi Sultan. After his death his brother Raimal of Mewar, succeeded. With help of Sultan of Delhi he fought a battle at Ghasa in which the rebal brother “Sahasmall and Surajmall” were defeated by Prithviraj, Second son of Raimal.