Tag Archives: Rajasthan

Jain Temples of Dilwara – Architectural Marvel of the World!

After our brief stay at Nakki Lake, we proceeded for Dilwara Jain temples, which was around 3 Kms away from the place…

…without any specifics in mind, just going by the mention made by Shri Balwant Jain who advised me to visit Dilwara temples while in Mt. Abu.  I have rarely missed his advice!

Couldn’t help my mind going back to school days when there was a chapter in our History book or Social Studies book ( Terms Social Sciences, Humanities were non – existent then) on Dilwara Temples and how much I wanted to visit then, but it had to happen years later…never mind!!

When we started moving towards Temple Gate, it looked to me quite unusual one from the temple perspective, why? Can’t say? But I couldn’t figure out, how far temples were located from the temple gate. Being it a hot day, Tanya insisted some Chaas (Butter-Milk) and she spotted an old woman making it and selling it. She made a rare sight, smiling face, spirited and pleasing to look at. She sits just at the entrance of parking to the temple. Tanyaa promptly hopped off to her and fondly addressed her as Daadi (Grand Mom) and over a sumptuous glass of Chaas they struck a bond. Daadi & Poti had some great conversation…till we settled down to  enter the temple.

As we entered the temple complex, we spotted some stores selling our favourite Rajasthani Costume Jewellery, and we could not resist ourselves buying some earrings, bangles, anklets what not to our heart’s content. Don’t miss out visiting these stores if you are a jewellery buff, you can pick up some great pieces at reasonable prices.

Now was the time to enter the temples. As per the norms, you had to deposit your mobile phones and other gadgets at the gate and I promptly deposited my hand bag as I wanted to freely visit the temples.  Oh Yes, don’t miss reading the entire dos and don’ts put up on the entry gate. We promptly complied with all the dos and don’ts and soon became part of the group which guide of the temple had comprised. I must say the guided tours were excellent, without any cost and we have explained everything very well. Our Group was also quite receptive where people often smiled at each other.

Now was the time to enter the temples and marvel at the architecture created in marbles for the generations to see. We really missed bringing along Tanya’s friend Jeanie who is studying Architecture at J J School of Architecture. Her takeaways would have been certainly different than mine. We were told by the guide that these were made around thousand years ago and marble from Kota was transported on elephants for 14 years.  Guide also showed us Devrani – Jethani Jahorka which took some 9 – Odd years to complete. Lord Mahavir’s Statue is made of Ashta Dhaatu where the major component is Gold weighing several Kgs which is in the main temple.  Architecture is so unique & uniform all over that you just can’t stop admiring all through. We marvel at modern architectures but they are not even a patch on the architecture of Dilwara temples.

I would like to share some specifics about the temples: The Dilwara temples are located about 2½ kilometers from Mount Abu. These Jain Temples were built by Vastapul Tejpal, Jain laymen between the 11th and 13th centuries AD and are world-famous for their stunning use of marble. The five legendary marble temples of Dilwara are a sacred pilgrimage place of the Jains. Some consider them to be one of the most beautiful Jain pilgrimage sites in the world. The marble temples have an opulent entranceway, the simplicity in architecture reflecting Jain values like honesty and frugality. The temples are in the midst of a range of forested hills. A high wall shrouds the temple complex.

Although the Jains built some beautiful temples at other places in Rajasthan, some believe that none come close to these in terms of architectural perfection. The ornamental detail spreading over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars, and panels is simply marvelous.

Facilities are available for bathing, which is mandatory before puja is performed for the idols. These facilities use passive solar power to heat up the water for bathing and other things.

There are five temples in all, each with its own unique identity. Each is named after the small village in which it is located. These are:

  • Vimal Vasahi, dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabha.
  • Luna Vasahi, dedicated to the 22nd Jain Tirthankara, Neminatha.
  • Pithalhar, dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabha.
  • Parshvanath, dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankara, Parshvanatha.
  • Mahavir Swami, dedicated to the last Jain Tirthankara, Mahavira.

Among all the five legendary marble temples of Dilwara, the most famous of those are the Vimal Vasahi and the Luna Vasahi temples.

I have no words and photos to share with you, for these architectural marvel, just see it believe it!

Even after stressing my mind, what I read about the temples in my Social Studies book, I could recollect only the title: Dilwara ke Jain Mandir, & here I was!

Rajasthan Tourism needs to promote Dilwara Temples like no place so that people are benefitted more from their visit to Rajasthan.

 

 

 

 

Honey Moon Point, Mt. Abu, most serene point!

 I liked that place the most & found it to be the best in entire Mt. Abu!

The reason, it is most picturesque point and on a huge height from where entire city looks just awesome!! & me and my daughter had ball of a time there!

Perched at an elevation of 4000 feet, with the backdrop of Nakki Lake and Old Gateway to Mount Abu; Honeymoon point is a must-visit if you wish to catch an exquisite view of the sun setting down the horizon. It has been named so mainly because of the Love Rock that is located here. It is often known as Anadara Point as well. This is an ideal spot if you are looking for a rather serene spot to spend your time at. This area’s untwining vibe and scenic beauty owing to the fact that this is one of the most popular attractions of Mount Abu. Hold hands, enjoy the pleasant weather and treat your eyes to the mesmerizing beauty spread all around you.

Don’t forget to spend some time there, however senior you are while in Mt. Abu!!!

See it to believe it!

I share here some beautiful clicks taken at Honeymoon point.

 

Ambaji Temple, Gujarat – Our next spiritual sojourn!

Mata Ne Bulaya hai!

This year when we decided to spend some part of our summer vacation in Rajasthan Hill Station, Mount Abu, I was driven by the drive of visiting and paying obeisance to one of the 51 Shakti Peeth’s – Ambaji temple. Ambaji ( Gujarati: અંબાજી, Hindi: अम्बाजी, Ambājī) is a census town in Banaskantha district in the state of Gujarat, India. It is known for its historical and mythological connections with sites of cultural heritage. The research on Ambaji town brought to the fore some important revelations, which I would like to share with my readers. You must be wondering that my year 2017 is taking me on a spiritual journey, believe me, it is just not by design, it is happening on its own. From many years, I have been planning to visit Ambaji temple, without knowing much about it, now I am looking forward to it.

Ambaji is an important temple town with millions of devotees visiting the Ambaji temple every year. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. Ambaji Mata temple is a major Shakti Peeth of India. It is situated at a distance of approximately 65 kilometers from Palanpur, 45 kilometers from Mount Abu, and 20 kilometers from Abu Road, and 185 kilometers from Ahmedabad, 50 kilometers from Kadiyadra near the Gujarat and Rajasthan border.

In the holy temple of “Arasuri Ambaji”, there is no image or statue of goddess the holy “Shree Visa Yantra” is worshiped as the main deity. No one can see the Yantra with the naked eye. The photography of the Yantra is prohibited.

The original seat of Ambaji Mata is on Gabbar hilltop in the town. A large number of devotees visit the temple every year, especially on Purnima days. A large mela on Bhadarvi Poornima (full moon day) is held. Every Year from all over the country people come here walking all over from their native place just to worship MAA AMBE in September. The whole Ambaji town is lit up as the nation celebrates the festive time of Diwali.

The temple is open from 7.00 am to 11.30 am, 12.30 pm to 4.30 pm and 6.30 pm to 9.00 pm.

The shrine of hi Amba is regarded as a revered shrine by the Shakta Shaktism sect of Hinduism. It is believed that the Heart of Sati Devi has fallen here. The origin of the Shakti Peetha status temple is from the mythology of Daksha Yaga and Sati’s self-immolation. Shakti Peethas were believed to have been formed when the body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi fell into different regions when Lord Shiva carried her corpse in sorrow after her death. The shrines are considered as highly revered by Shaivist (Shaivism) sect in Hinduism. The Shakti Peethas are mostly worshiped by tantra practitioners. Each Shakti Peetha has a Kalabhairava shrine associated with it the Kalabhairava of The Amba Matha Temple is Batuk Bhairav.

PM Narendra Modi performing puja at Ambaji Temple

Mythical History

Ambaji is one of the 51 ancient Shakti Peetha Tirth in India. There are 12 main Shakti Pith Tirth, significant places of pilgrimage for the worship of Shakti, namely, Ma Bhagwati Mahakali Maha Shakti at Ujjain, Ma Kamakshi at Kanchipuram, Mata Bramaramba at Srisailam, Shri Kumarika at Kanyakumari, Mataji Ambaji at AnarGujarat, Mata Mahalaxmidevi at Kolhapur, Devi Lalita at Prayag, Vindhya Vasini at Vindhya, Vishalakshi at Varanasi, Mangalavati at Gaya and Sundari at Bengal & Guhyeshwari Temple in Nepal.

There is no idol or picture in the temple but a simple cave like Gokh in the inner wall, in which A Gold Plated Holy Shakti Visa Shree Yantra having kurma back convex shape and 51 Bij letters therein, connected with that of the original Yantras of Nepal and Ujjain Shakti Piths, is also ritually installed in such a way it can be visible for devotion, but never photographed in past nor can be so done in future. The worship of this Visa Shree Yantra is done only after tying a bandage on the eyes.

More on return from Ambaji temple!! Watch this space for more!!!

 

 

Fascinating Rajasthan! Symphony created by Diversity!!

रंगीलो राजस्थान: पधारो म्हारे देस!

An exclusive photo-essay!

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This land is a colourful melange of massive forts, stunning palaces, diverse cultures, delectable cuisines and warm people, set amidst a rugged yet inviting landscape.

Rajasthan is a land that has inspired me and countless others. Come tread on the sands of time. In Rajasthan you will find every hue in Nature’s grand palette – the red sands, the blue of royalty, the pink cities or the amber sunsets. Surrender yourself to the sounds of trinkets or the sounds of the all conquering wind. Sight and sounds that are far removed from any city. Sights and sounds that will transport you into a folk lore.

The contour of Rajasthan is varied and well divided by the Aravalli Range that spreads across the state from the southwest to the northeast. With an unproductive region in the northwest to a comparatively fertile land in the east. Rajasthan’s topography is a potpourri of the sandy deserts and prolific vegetation. It is home to the Great Indian Thar Desert and the Chambal River which is solely responsible for the water supply in the region.

Music, art and dance is woven into every inch of this land  called paradise. You will find it carved in every grain of sand. Here you will find the past, the present and the future. You will find passion. You will find adventure. And you will find yourself.

Irrespective of rich cultural roots, Rajasthan is equally modern and flourishing as any other urban city. The state roads flaunt the most expensive vehicles and at the same time run camel carts, horse drawn tongas and scooter rickshaws. The region is well connected by a network of roads and a steadily improving transport system.

Come, walk into the unforgettable embrace of Rajasthan.

In an attempt to reinvent and celebrate the extraordinary strengths of RAJASTHAN, these projects and events created especially for the larger domain of the people and their inherent traditional and contemporary skills, connecting with similar international interventions showcased in the State, the Chief Minister, Vasundhra Raje, has infused a new, fresh and contemporary energy into the inherited

Topography

When it comes to accommodation, Rajasthan welcomes royal tourists and backpacking travellers equally. Your choices range from luxurious hotels to economical yet comfortable dormitories. The State owned Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation also run a chain of hotels in the major destinations. These tourist bungalows provide reasonably priced accommodation in the form of dormitories, single rooms, air-cooled and air-conditioned rooms.

Courtesy: पधारो म्हारे देस & RajasthanTourism.gov.in

Udaipur: Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal, unsung destination!

I had never come across this place even while researching about Udaipur or while talking to people who had been there. Our Cabbie just stopped at a colourful gate and said “Aap andar jayeeye”. I Questioned: “Which is this place”? He replied: Lok Kala Mandal and continued: you will like it very much. How true he was!

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Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal is a museum of Rajasthani Folk Art which displays rich collection of folk dresses, paintings, pagris, ornaments, puppets, masks, dolls and folk musical instruments. Besides there is a section on Tribal Art. The world renowned puppeteers of Udaipur put up shows on regular intervals which we enjoyed very much.

The museum was just awesome, the collection was reflection of Rajasthani Art Forms and student of art/ architecture/ design would just love it. It would provide great learning to these students of Rajasthani Art Forms.

Rajasthan Tourism needs to promote this Centre amidst foreign tourists also who as it love everything about Rajasthan!

The unsung hero of Udaipur should get Hero’s welcome!

Need to say more? Watch it to believe me!

An exclusive Photo-Essay of Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal.

Pics Courtesy: Mukund Rai

Udaipur, Lake Pichola: Calm, Serene & Picturesque

Next morning we set out for our trip to Udaipur’s Lake Pichola…

…what an amazing place it turned out to be!

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No wonder, Rudyard Kipling mentioned this lake in his Letters of Marque (1899), “If the Venetian owned the Pichola Lake, they might say with justice, `see it and die’. The beauty of Lake Pichola attracts people from all over the world. One can undeniably say for Pichola that once, if you see this lake, you would definitely fall in love with it. The mesmerizing beauty of Lake Pichola makes it worth visiting Udaipur. The pristine blue waters of the left a soothing impact on us. I wondered how much stressed lives are we leading in Mumbai.

If Fateh Sagar Lake was vibrant, well-lit, scenic, slightly commercialised, more of a family destination, Lake Pichola was in sharp contrast. It would be any writer’s or poet’s dream destination. Lake Pichola, surrounded by lush green lining, sitting benches, big banyan trees, lofty palaces – Jagmandir Palace and hilly backdrop made ideal setting for a romantic Rajesh Khanna Movie. Sitting there and just watching the lake was an experience in itself. Living in Mumbai makes you accustomed to very fast life, whereas sitting beside the lake Pichola and just watching it, I felt that time had just stopped, but it hadn’t, how I wish it had. Time passed in boating, roaming and chit – chatting and it was time for us to move to new destination.

Let me add here, located in the heart of the city, Pichola Lake is the oldest and one of the largest lakes of Udaipur. In 1362, the beautiful lake was built by Pichhu Banjara during the ruling period of Maharana Lakha. Talking about the dimensions of Pichola Lake, it is extended to 3 miles in length, 2 miles in width and has depth of 30 feet.

Lake Pichola comprises several islands that accompany the calm waters of the lake. The world-renowned Lake Palace is perfectly located on the Jag Island of this tranquil lake. Even the Jag Mandir, another destination of tourists, is located on an island of this lake. Above all, a trip to Pichola Lake would be incomplete with a boat ride. At the time sun-set, a boat ride in this lake is would be wonderful, but we did it in the morning.

The beauty of this lake has not spared anyone to attract towards it. The lake looks more enchanting with its scenic surroundings. Maharana Udai Singh must have been certainly captivated by the charm of this pristine lake with the perfect backdrop of lush green hills as when he founded the city of Udaipur. He also constructed a dam made in stone that falls under the ‘Badipol’ region on the shore of this lake.

Pichola Lake is enveloped by lofty Palaces, temples, bathing ghats and elevated hills on all its sides. In the southern part of this lake, there is a hill that is known as Machhala Magra and one can see glimpse of Eklinggarh Fort from here. The City Palace of Udaipur broadens along the eastern banks of this lake.

Rajasthan Tourism need to promote these two lakes as their prime tourist destination.

Pictures Courtesy: Mukund Rai

 

Rajasthan never ceases to surprise you, so did Udaipur!!

A reluctant trip to Udaipur turned out to be most fascinating one, Read on to know how?

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The trip in April to Rajasthan was not a great idea according to many but my brother –in-law Anurag encouraged me to make it. And I made it!! Anurag who had studied there told me elaborately about the place and sight-seeing spots and we almost followed his itenery. The train journey by Udaipur Superfast from Bandra to Udaipur was pleasant but when I came out of station I was quite fascinated by its architecture and immediately clicked some pictures there. As we have been watching in Rajasthan Tourism Commercials which says: Rajasthan never ceases to Surprise you! It applied to us: Me & My husband Mukund too! Weather was nice especially evenings.

No wonder Udaipur has been inspiration for countless artists, architects and poets for several years. Not only this it has been part of many a romantic Bollywood and Hollywood movies and earned a name for itself: ‘City of Romance’ besides fondly addressed as ‘City of Lakes’. They all conjure up a wonderful and fascinating image and Udaipur is worthy of them all.

Interesting historical note on city of Udaipur:

Maharana Udai Singhji roamed the country side well away from the hub of Mughal activity and eventually came across lake Pichola, the principal being Chand Pole at northwest corner, the Hathi Pol on the north, the Delhi-Gate on North East , the Suraj Pole of the east and Kishan Pole on the south and cradled protectively by the surrounding tree clad Aravali Mountains, a green & pleasant area, with a cooler climate than surrounding lands, abundant water supply, fertile soil and plenty of good hunting. Udai Singh ji founded this as new capital and this is how Udaipur came into being.   

So immediately after reaching hotel which we had booked Online: Kaveri Palace, we set out to famed Fateh Sagar Lake and voila what a place it was. The setting was just awesome: nicely lit, breezy, waves, boat-rides, camel rides, Chaupati like food court and many tourists having gala time there. We took a long stroll on the side and watched beautiful lake closely. It was quite an experience in itself!

Fateh Sagar Lake, situated to the north of Pichola Lake and connected to it by a canal, was originally built by Maharana Jai Singh who had constructed even the more famous Jaisamand Lake. Later when the old embankment of the lake was swept away by heavy rains, the lake was reconstructed in its modern avatar by Maharana Fateh Singh. The foundation stone of the new embankment was laid by the Duke Conaught, Son of Queen Victoria in 1889. How do I know all this? The history is written on its banks as soon as you enter the Fateh Sagar Lake. The lake has been expanded to optimum levels to ensure that Udaipur would always have a substantial supply of water.

The lake, which covers an area of about two square miles when full, has one small island, which has been made by the Government of Rajasthan into a public park which has fountains known as Nehru Garden. Though Nehru Garden is not that well maintained, as I had expected.

While returning from Fateh Sagar Lake we halted at most famous picnic spot: Sukhadia Circle which looked to me situated in the middle of city and named after Chief Minister Shri Mohan Lal Sukhadia. It was a very fascinating picnic spot with its lush – green lawns, water fountain and boating. I found Udaipur people peacefully having great time there. Special lighting all over added to its splendour and beauty. But later I came to know that Sukhadia Circle is located in front of the Railway Training School and this huge circle has been converted into pond. Its diameter is 20 Ft. And it has 42 Ft. High fountain, unique in the country. As I told you above, the pond has green park all around it embedded with beautiful flowers and herbs.  

Our night sojourn completed with a round of Chetak Circle and nice hearty meal in the end.

Watch out this space for more on Udaipur!!!

  

Thar Festival Jaisalmer: Melting pot of Culture, Tradition, Music & Folk-dance

My cousin Aarti was here in Mumbai recently for her official visit and was kind enough to visit me for a day. She hails from Jodhpur and is married in Jaipur, so a true blue Rajasthani. Amidst our conversation, she mentioned about Thar Festival of Jaisalmer which is a big attraction amidst tourists especially foreigners. As Rajasthan never ceases to fascinate me, I always look forward to visiting Rajasthan at any given opportunity.

She invited me to come to Jaipur as usual and asked me to come in February, 2016 so that I can visit Jaisalmer also and attend the famed Thar festival too. My curiosity grew and I wanted to know more about Jaisalmer and in particular, Thar Festival. I connected with an old friend of my mine who told me about fascinating sand dunes of Jaisalmer but she had visited the place in December so she could not share much about Thar festival. I imagined in my head that Thar Festival would be somewhat similar to Rann Utsav which I had been to in December of 2013. Good, it was not! Read on to know why Thar festival is different?

On digging deeper I came to know that Thar festival is a mirror to the Rajasthani culture and tradition which is lively with vibrant colours which is a continuous celebration for three days when your soul gets one with the soul of Rajasthan. Here you become one with everything Rajasthani.

It is the grand and famous fort of Jaisalmer which is host to the celebration of the Desert festival, whereas the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation is taking all the responsibilities to organize it successfully. The auspicious Day is Full moon (Purnima) when the event kick starts. If you have dream to witness this grand event which takes place in the beginning of every year in the month of February, this is the time to be in.

During the Desert Festival entire Jaisalmer shrinks in the campus of Jaisalmer fort. Groups of folk dancers in Ghaghra & Dhoti Kurta accompanied with folk singers who are equipped with local musical instruments sing and express the tale of warriors, lovers, kings & queens of Sand city and Rajasthan. There are some other performers like snake charmers, acrobats and puppeteers who amplify the charm of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival, too. Don’t miss to attend the contests to judge the man with the best (Read: Biggest) moustache.

Aarti suggested that we should not miss the Camel riding/racing when the Camel riders try to leave behind their rivals in the competition creating the clouds of sand. Attired in the colourful embellishments these camels look awesome when they run like horses on the festival ground and it creates a truly mesmerizing view.
Every night during the festival in the Thar Desert there are various events where fabulous plays and dances are performed and one doesn’t feel tired and wants the show to go on and on. You can stay at one of those royal camps, where you feel like a maharaja or maharani yourself.

This is the time when you can find a big range of Rajasthani handicrafts, wooden items, fabrics, paintings, jewelleries in the Desert festival ground. You can buy beautiful multicoloured long skirts and odhnis too.

Don’t forget to savour Rajasthani Daal-baati, Churma, Gatte ki Sabji and other more famous dishes along with tea served in the clay pot available in the food stalls. Jaisalmer Desert Festival is totally is a time to live some best moments in your life.

Location: Sam Sand Dunes 42 K.M. from Jaywalker
How to reach: SUV or Camel safari
Timing: In the month of February
Attractions: Cultural showcase
Airport: Jodhpur
Railway Station: Jodhpur

Inputs courtesy: Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation

Here I come Jaisalmer, & Aarti!!!

Great Indian Travel Bazaar returns next year in Jaipur

After a hiatus of one year the well- known inbound tourism mart, the Great Indian Travel Bazaar (GITB) will now return to Jaipur. Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Department of Tourism and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in Jaipur.

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As per the MoU, GITB will be organized jointly by FICCI and the tourism department for the next five years beginning 2015 to 2019 to be held in the month of April. Alike the past, it will be actively supported by Union Tourism Ministry, Indian Heritage Hotel Association (IHHA), Hotel & Restaurant Association of Rajasthan (HRAR) and Rajasthan Association of Tour Operators (RATO).

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GITB, which began in 2008, became an increasingly popular B2B inbound tourism mart in the country. A large number of tour operators, travel agents and travel writers were visiting Jaipur for the event. GITB was to the tourism industry what the Jaipur literature festival was for litterateurs.

After the first edition of GITB an MOU was signed between FICCI and the department of tourism for five years. “GITB was a concept suggested by FICCI and the name was jointly registered between the two. The then minister tourism Bina Kak announced at GITB 2013’s inaugural ceremony that the seventh edition of GITB would be organized in Jaipur in 2014 and the dates would be announced in due time. But thereafter the MoU was not renewed by the Gehlot government and the 2014 event had to be cancelled.

“GITB had established itself as the most important travel mart in North India during the six years. It had become especially important for small and standalone hotels of Rajasthan which cannot afford to attend international travel marts. I am glad it is being organized again from next year,” said Randhir Vikram Singh Mandawa, general secretary of Indian Heritage Hotels Association.

Visit Kumbhalgarh Fort, Sanctuary to satiate tourist in you!

Hi friends,

My recently married cousin, Aarti Shrivastava Mathur visited Kumbhalgarh Fort and Sanctuary in Rajasthan and happily shared her pictures of the trip with our blogger community. The place is really awesome, natural, historical with heavy dollops of wild –life adventure. To me it looked like a complete package of all above which can cater to all types of tourists. If you are in Rajasthan, do include Kumbhalgarh in your iterinery. The nearest city to reach Kumbhalgarh is Udaipur in Rajasthan. Her trip aroused enough curiosity in me to dig in details about this fabulous fort and share the detail s with my readers.

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Kumbhalgarh is a Mewar fortress in the Rajsamand District of Rajasthan state in western India. It is an World Heritage Site included in Hill Forts of Rajasthan. Built during the course of the 15th century by Rana Kumbha and enlarged through the 19th century, Kumbhalgarh is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, the great king and warrior of Mewar. Occupied until the late 19th century, the fort is now open to the public and is spectacularly lit for a few minutes each evening. Kumbalgarh is situated 82 km northwest of Udaipur by road. It is the most important fort in Mewar after Chittaurgarh.

Built on a hilltop 1100 metres above sea level, the fort of Kumbhalgarh has perimeter walls that extend 36 kilometres. 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 look tens of kilometers into the Aravalli Range. The sand dunes of the Thar desert can be seen from the fort walls.

According to legend, in 1443, the Maharana of Kumbhalgarh, Rana Kumbha, was initially repeatedly unsuccessful in attempts to build the fort wall. A spiritual preceptor was consulted about the construction problems and advised the ruler that a voluntary human sacrifice would solve whatever was causing the impediment. The spiritual advisor advised building a temple where the head should fall and building the wall and the fort where the rest of his body lay. As can be expected, for some time no one volunteered, but one day, a pilgrim (some versions suggest a soldier, and some, that the spiritual preceptor and the pilgrim were one and the same) volunteered and was ritually decapitated. Today the main gate of the fortress, Hanuman Pol, contains a shrine and a temple to commemorate the great sacrifice.

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.
Its wall is the second largest wall in Asia.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

.IMG-20140604-WA0004 IMG-20140604-WA0001 IMG-20140604-WA0007 Long Week, Leopard, Tanzania

Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary is in the Rajsamand District of Rajasthan state in western India and surrounds the Kumbhalgarh fortress and covers an area of 578 km2 (223 sq mi). The sanctuary extends across the Aravalli Range, covering parts of Rajsamand, Udaipur, and Pali districts, ranging from 500 to 1,300 metres (1,600 to 4,300 ft) elevation.

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It takes name after the impressive historic fort of Kumbhalgarh, which come into view over the Park. It is 578 km2 (223 sq mi) in area and at an altitude of 500 to 1,300 metres (1,600 to 4,300 ft). It is home to a very large variety of wild life, some of which are highly endangered species. The wild life includes wolf, leopards, sloth bear, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, sambhar, nilgai, chausingha (the four horned antelope), chinkara and hare.

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The bird life at Kumbhalgarh is also gratifying. The normally shy and untrusting grey jungle fowl can be spotted here. Peacocks and Doves can be sighted regularly feeding on grains scattered by the jungle guards. Bird like the red spur owls, Parakeets, golden Oriole, grey Pigeons, Bulbul, Dove and white breasted kingfisher can also be seen near the water holes. Kumbhalgarh’s natural beauty is attracting many tourists and especially for its accessibility from Udaipur, which is 100 km from here. Foot tracking and horse safari organised by local tour operators are proving to be very popular. A typical safari route enters the sanctuary from the Kumbhalgarh Fort and cutting across the sanctuary it reaches Ghanerao, and then borders an old abandoned road. On this road, one can sight Chinkaras, Neelgais, four horned Antelope and many birds.

The nearest city to reach Kumbhalgarh is Udaipur in Rajasthan.

Pretty Pictures Courtesy: SIDDHARTH PUROHIT