Great Wall of India /
Kumbhalgarh Fort in Rajasthan


Is this Great Wall of India really a pilgrimage site … a sacred place?

I’ll admit to a weakness for walls—our next big family vacation is planned for Hadrian’s Wall, covid willing. But with 364 temples inside Kumbhalgarh Fort’s “great wall,” the answer is easily YES, even without my crazy predilection.

The wall of Kumbhalgarh Fort goes on for over 36 km (22 miles) along mountains and valleys, making it the second longest continuous wall in the world. Only China’s Great Wall is longer. Most sections are around 5 meters wide, but it’s 15 meters wide (around 49 feet!) at its widest.

It contains the entire fort complex, including 364 Jain and Hindu temples, palaces, the water tank, stables, kitchens (veg and non-veg), pockets of houses, and so on. Kumbhalgarh Fort, along with five other Rajasthani hill forts, is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s a nice day trip from Udaipur. But what makes it especially nice as a pilgrimage site is its relative remoteness and extensive grounds for strolling, all the while surrounded by the greenery and beauty of the Aravali Hills.


A Little History on Kumbhalgarh & the Great Wall of India

Temple at Kumbhalgarh Fort in Rajasthan

Kumbhalgarh Fort was designed by the architect Mandan and built between 1443 and 1458 as an alternate residence for Mewar’s royal family if Chittorgarh fell. King Kumbha is believed to have constructed it, thus the fort’s name.

Mandan designed the fort according to scriptural principles. For instance, it maintains the vastu tradition of odd-numbered gates, having nine. Odd numbers are also employed for the number of horse stalls and slots for cannons. 

As Vedic texts state worship should occur to the east, most temples are about 90 degrees east. Meanwhile, kitchens are to the north. Mandan recorded details of his style of work in a text called Rajvallabh, dedicated to King Kumbha.

The temples inside were built at various different times—some before and some after the fort was constructed. Kumbhalgarh Fort with its Great Wall of India is thought to be virtually impregnable and is difficult to see from a distance, blended in with the hills as it is.

The legendary Mewar king Maharana Pratap was born here.



Other Hill Forts of Rajasthan & Their Temples

Kumbhalgarh Fort and these other five make up the Hill Forts of Rajasthan UNESCO World Heritage Site:

  • Chittor Fort at Chittorgarh: Spread over 692 acres, it’s one of the largest forts in all of India. It has 19 large temples, a number of smaller ones, and four palaces.
  • Ranthambore Fort at Sawai Madhopur: Site of the former hunting grounds of the maharajahs of Jaipur, this fortress was founded by Nagil Jats in 944 (although the time of actual fort construction is debated). There are three Hindu temples and a Jain temple inside.
  • Amer Fort at Jaipur: Amer Fort is rather stylish and artistic—much influenced by Mughal architecture. There are several temples inside. The fort itself is lovely, but do NOT ride the elephants up! They’re often abused or even mutilated.
  • Gagron Fort at Jhalawar: This 12th century hill-and-water fort has three sides surrounded by water and the fourth with a good-old-fashioned moat. There is a Sufi mausoleum just outside the walls and the St Pipaji monastery across the water.
  • Jaisalmer Fort at Jaisalmer: The Golden Fort is a “living” fort, much like Carcassonne in France. Nearly 25% of the town’s populace still lives inside its walls. There are many international restaurants inside, as well as several Hindu and Jain temples.

 


Things to Know 

  • The best time of year to visit the Great Wall of India / Kumbhalgarh Fort is between October and March.
  • It can be reached by car or bus. Buses run hourly between Udaipur and the village of Kelwara, which is near the fort. It’s about a 3-hour trip.
  • Lots of good photo ops here! It’s a very photogenic place.
  • Kumbhalgarh Fort is in the heart of a wildlife sanctuary.
  • Vehicles can be parked outside the main gate.
  • There are hotels in the area.
  • Open from noon to midnight.



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