City SundayTravel Expeditions

Mystique of India – 6: Haldighati and Kumbhalgarh Fort

After a very satisfying stay at Udaipur, we proceeded – Jodhpur, a distance of 330 km and a journey of about 6 hours.  We were scheduled to visit historic Haldighati after our visit to Udaipur. However, Sanjay, our driver, who in reality was our friend, philosopher and guide, took us to Haldighati on the way to Udaipur from Pushkar. When we visited City Palace at Udaipur and later Kumbhalgarh, we were fully conversant with the history of Mewar and the role played by battle of Haldighati.

Battle of Haldighati

The term Haldighati means Yellow Valley. And believe it or not, we found the soil in most places  yellow. This was very prominent on the  hilly sides of the road which was created by cutting down the  terrain. This region has special place in the history of Rajasthan. Mewar region had remained defiant to the Mughals and had retained its  independent status even when other areas  had accepted  the suzerainty of  Mughals.  Repeated attacks on Mewar by the Mughals had not yielded any victory.

The battle of Haldighati was fought between Maharana Pratap and the Mughal army of Akbar led by Raja Man Singh  on June 18, 1576, which lasted for only four hours. The Mughal army was numerically superior but Pratap had with him the bravest leaders and his faithful steed Chetak  (with a blue tinge) to lead his battle. He used the tactics of guerrilla warfare and he had strong support from the Bhils of Aravallis under Rana Poonja.

The end result of this battle was that wounded Maharana Pratap was rescued to safety by his faithful Chetak, the blue mount, even when the steed itself was severely wounded. Rest is a glorified part of our history.

The museum at Haldighati presents the entire episode of the battle both in the form of a large model and a short documentary. It also has a grand size statue of Maharana Pratap and Chetak in full battle regalia.

Kumbalgarh Fort

Kubalgarh fort stands out distinctly for its glorious history. It is the second most important fort of Rajasthan after Chittorgarh.  This unconquerable fortress is secured under the protection of the Aravali ranges. The fort was built by Maharana Rana Kumbha in the 15th century.

Encircled by 13 elevated mountain peaks, the fort is constructed on the top-most ridges around 1,914m above the sea level. The fortifications of the fort extend to the length of 36 km and this fact has found this fort a place in the international records. It is stated to be the second longest wall in the world. The belief is that this fort inspired the Chinese to build their Great Wall after the visit of a Chinese dignitary to Kumbalgarh. The huge complex of the Fort has numerous palaces, temples and gardens making it more magnificent.

The impregnable fort boasts of seven massive gates, seven ramparts folded with one another with designed walls toughened by curved bastions and huge watch towers. The strong structure and solid foundation of the Fort made it unbeatable till date. The hefty walls of the fort are broad enough to stand eight horses side by side. There are not less than 360 temples inside the complex of the Fort. Amongst all of them, Shiva Temple is worth visiting that comprises a huge Shivalinga.

The fort is also known for its famous palace that stands on the top of the structure. This beautiful palace is known as ‘Badal Mahal’ or the Palace of Cloud. It is also accredited to be the birth place of Maharana Pratap. This palace has beautiful rooms with lovely color combination of green, turquoise and white presenting a bright contrast to the earthy colors of the fort. The place gives the feel of  floating in the world of clouds. Cloud Palace also offers a fantastic panoramic vista of the down town.

There is a temple at the bottom of the climb to the palace. Our climb to the top of the fort was very exhausting but enjoyable. One has to climb several steep gradient turnings to the top. By the time one reaches the top he/she is surely breathless. The small statue of Ganesha in a specially built dome is conspicuous in the large courtyard at the top.  We were told  that the kings used to worship of this deity every time they came into and went out of the palace. The view of the entire area of the fort, though hidden by moving clouds, is simply breathtaking. Climbing up is worth all the efforts and pains.

However, one caveat on the visit to Kumbhalgarh fort is that as it is spread over an area of thirty six kilometers one cannot but see only one phase of this grand fort complex. Otherwise, one has to devote a couple of days for a complete discovery of the entire area of this great fort  In fact, when Epic Channel telecast a program  covering Kumbhalgarh we were left wondering whether we really visited this place at all!!  We grudgingly left Kumbhalgarh fort after having seen only one portion.

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