Friday, February 18, 2011

India - Kumbhalgarh Fort

Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan, India. One can only gasp in awe on seeing the immense walls that are second only in their massiveness to the Great Wall of China. The fort is 84 km by road from Udaipur. It covers an area of 12 sq. km and was built by Rana Kumbha between 1445 and 1458 A.D. Within its complex there are palaces, temples, fields and water resources sufficient to withstand even the longest siege.

Sent by Hans, a Facebook friend from India.

This is from Wikipedia : Kumbhalgarh (also called Kumbhalmer or Kumbalgarh) is a Mewar fortress in the Rajsamand District of Rajasthan state in western India. Built during the course of the 15th century by Rana Kumbha, and enlarged through the 19th century, Kumbhalgarh is also a birthplace of Maharana Pratap, the great king and warrior of Mewar. Occupied until the late 19th century, the fort is now open to the general public as a museum and is spectacularly lit for a few minutes each evening. Kumbalgarh is situated 82 km from Udaipur towards its northwest and is easily accessible by road. It is the most important fort in Mewar after Chittaurgarh.

Built on a hilltop 1100 metres in altitude, Kumbhalgarh fort has perimeter walls that extend 36 kilometres in length[1] , which makes it the third longest in the world after the Great Wall of China and theGreat Wall of Gorgan in Iran. The frontal walls are fifteen feet thick. Kumbhalgarh has seven fortified gateways. Over 360 temples are within the fort, 300 ancient Jain and the rest Hindu. The vista from the palace top typically extends tens of kilometers into the Aravalli Range. It is widely believed that the sand dunes of the Thar desert can be seen from the fort walls.

According to legend the Maharana of Kumbhalgarh tried so many times to build the wall of the fort but each time failed to do so. They consulted a local pilgrim about their construction problems. The pilgrim advised that he be beheaded and after cutting his head to build a temple where the head should fall, and to build the wall and the fort where the rest of his body lay. Following his advice, they succeed in building the world's third largest wall.

According to popular folklore, Maharana Kumbha used to burn massive lamps that consumed fifty kgs of Ghee and a hundred kgs of cotton to provide light for the farmers who worked during the nights in the valley.

The site where Kumbhalgarh stands today was once a bastion, was once ruled by Prince Samprati and his dynasty who were Jain descendents of Mauryan emperors of India during the 2nd century CE.

Kumbhalgarh in its present form was developed by, and said to be personally designed by Rana Kumbha. 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 designed 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 who later succeeded to the throne was also the founder of the Udaipur City. Kumbhalgarh was captured by the combined armies of Emperor Akbar, along with the armies of Raja Man Singh of Amber and Raja Udai Singh of Marwar . The fort's capitulation was accelerated by the scarcity of drinking water.

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