Kumbhalgarh Fort was built by Rana Kumbha in 15th century. This fort is second largest fort in Rajasthan. Like other hill forts of Rajasthan, this fort was also built on Aravalli ranges. The wall of the fort is 38km long and is second largest wall after Great Wall of China. The fort has now been named under UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is believed that the original Kumbhalgarh Fort dates back to the 6th century and was built by King Samprati of the Maurya Age. However, due to the lack of any recorded evidence, the history of the fort from its origins till invasion by Alauddin Khilji in 1303 AD remains vague.
The fort as we see today was built by Kumbhakarna aka Rana Kumbha of Mewar kingdom in the 15th century. It was designed by a famous architect of that period, named Mandan. According to local legends, Rana Kumbha faced many difficulties during the construction of the fort that he nearly abandoned it. Then a holy man told him that all these problems would end if a pure-hearted man willingly sacrificed his life for the construction. On hearing this, the king was disappointed and that was when the holy man beheaded himself and sacrificed his life. After that, the king was able to build the fort without any problems. It is believed that the entrance to the fort marks the place where the holy man’s head fell.
That’s the legend part of it. Historically too, the fort played a major role in shaping the region’s past. Thanks to its strategic location, Kumbhalgarh was used as a safe refuge by the rulers of Mewar at times of threat or danger. It has remained witness to many significant events that have shaped the region’s history like that Maharana Pratap was born in this citadel. The fort provided shelter to the infant Prince Udai of Mewar after Chittor fell under siege. Though the fort came under attack from various rulers and invaders, it remained invincible except for once when, in 1576, it was conquered by Mansingh I, the general of Emperor Akbar. Later, the fort was taken over by the colonial rulers before it finally came under the aegis of the government of Rajasthan.
Kumbhalgarh Fort Architecture
Due to its mountainous location, Kumbhalgarh was built in the Rajput military hill architectural style that makes use of the defensive properties of the terrain. The fort is built on a hilltop at a height of about 3600 feet above sea level and enveloped by a 36-km long wall with seven fortified gateways. The wall, which is listed among the longest walls in the world, is often called the Great Wall of India.
The frontal walls of the fort have a thickness of 15 feet. There are more than 360 temples inside the fort, out of which 300 are ancient Jain temples and the others are Hindu shrines. Though several additions were made to the fort by the rulers of Mewar over the years, the original structure exists even now.