Kumbhalgarh Fort, Bhilwara
About Kumbhalgarh Fort
The early history of the fort could not be ascertained on account of lack of evidence. The earliest name of the fort is believed to be Machhindrapur, while Sahib Haqim, a historian, named it Mahore. The original fort is believed to have been built by King Samprati of the Maura Age on account of the strategic importance during the 6th century. The subsequent history till 1303 AD till the invasion of Alauddin Khalji is obscure as the fort was insignificant at that time.Kumbhalgarh in its current form was built by Rana Kumbha who was the Rana of Mewar from the Sisodia rajput clan. Rana Kumbha took the aid of the famous architect of the era, "Madan". Rana Kumbha's kingdom of Mewar stretched from Ranthambore to Gwalior and included large tracts of erstwhile Madhya Pradesh as well as Rajasthan. Out of the 84 forts in his dominion, Rana Kumbha is said to have built 32 of them, of which Kumbhalgarh is the largest and most elaborate.Kumbhalgarh also separated Mewar and Marwar from each other and was used as a place of refuge for the rulers of Mewar at times of danger. 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 later succeeded to the throne. The fort remained impregnable to direct assault. Ahmed Shah I 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 Khalji, but it also proved futile. Akbar's general, Shabhbaz Khan, is believed to have taken control of the fort in 1576. But it was recaptured by Maharana Pratap in 1585. Finally in 1615 Mewar surrendered against the Mughal forces sent by Emperor Jahangir under the command of Prince Khurram. 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 British and later returned to Udaipur State. 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 birthplace of Maha Rana Pratap.
Built on a hilltop 1,100 m (3,600 ft) above sea level on the Aravalli range, the fort of Kumbhalgarh has perimeter walls that extend 36 km (22 mi), making it one of the longest walls in the world. The frontal walls are fifteen feet thick. Kumbhalgarh has seven fortified gateways. 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. According to popular folklore, Maharana Kumbha used to burn massive lamps that consumed fifty kilograms of ghee and a hundred kilograms of cotton to provide light for the farmers who worked during the nights in the valley.