Having spent a couple of days in Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh – the birthplace of Maharana Pratap was next on our itinerary. Kumbalgarh is about a 2 and half hours’ drive from Udaipur (approximately 85 km).
|City Palace, Udaipur|
We started for Kumbhalgarh just after breakfast (around 10:30am). The car punctually reported at our home-stay at Udaipur. It is advisable to either drive on your own or take a tourist taxi (as we did) for the onward journey.
Enroute to Kumbhalgarh we decided on visiting Haldighati which is situated mid-way between Udaipur & Kumbalgarh (about an hour’s drive from Udaipur).
As you head out of Udaipur, the landscape changes. It is a very scenic drive with farms & village homes on both sides of the road while in the distance the majestic Aravalis rise as guardians of the land. The air is crisp and fresh. We rolled down our windows and soaked in our surroundings. It tends to get dusty in places especially when another vehicle passes by. The rural roads are narrow two-laned (or at places just one & half lanes). This is not a very busy route hence you will not experience any traffic snarls or delays.
Travel Tip: There are no pit-stops along the way so it is advisable to carry your bottle of water and some snacks (especially if you have children travelling with you).
First Stop: The Haldighati Museum:
About an hour or so later we arrived at the Haldighati museum. This museum is dedicated to the erstwhile Rana of Mewar - Maharana Pratap. At the museum you will find the life of Maharana Pratap’s depicted through paintings and wall sculptures.
The museum tour is an immersive experience. The audience is first shown a short informative movie about the infamous battle of Haldighati which was fought between the Mughal army and the army of Maharana Pratap. This short film is followed by the immersive tour where you are led in a group from one room to the next. Each room depicts a scene from the battle. The guide narrates a bit of the story leading to the scene followed by a taped recording and sound and light display of what conspired. We meandered from room to room awestruck by the beautifully hand-sculpted exhibits. It is like walking through a history book in three dimensions. A must visit especially if you are travelling with children (we enjoyed it too).
The premises has a small lake with paddleboats. We did not do any boating or further sight-seeing here. There is a small souvenir shop where you can pick up some small souvenirs if you haven’t already. Haldighati is known for its rose perfumes and they have an outlet selling this product too.
|Sugarcane Juice extraction|
We did stop for some sugar-cane juice here. The juice is pressed by a unique cow-press. The children enjoyed watching the cow go around the press extracting the juice.
- The immersive experience tour lasts approximately an hour.
- Food and drinks are not allowed inside.
- There is a SBI ATM on the premises and it is advisable to keep some change cash for the onward journey to Kumbalgarh.
- The “Chetak Samadhi” the final resting place of Chetak is located close by, but we skipped visiting this memorial.
- Camel rides and tea-stalls & small food stalls are located just outside the museum.
Next Detour: The Haldighati mountain-pass:
At this point it is important to mention that the place Haldighati gets its name due to the unique turmeric coloured soil found in this region. This mountain-pass is situated in the Aravalli hills and connects the Rajsamand & Pali districts. Our driver drove us to this pass (now a metalled road passes through this pass). One can stop here to take a few photographs before proceeding onwards.
|The twin Persian wheels|
Enroute to Kumbalgarh:
At this point Kumbalgarh is about an hour away. We wanted to drive leisurely through the picturesque rural setting of the farm hinterlands traversing both sides of the road. The landscape is dotted with irrigation wells, sugarcane farms and lush wheat fields. We chanced upon a farmer irrigating his field with unique cattle powered water wheel (Persian wheel). He sat on the bough manoeuvring his bulls to go around the wheel which kept the irrigation in cycle (see picture attached). The children were fascinated by this and we stopped to get a closer look. The farmer obliged the children with a ride on the wheel for a small tip. This was a unique experience for us all. We realised that the folks around here are very friendly and obliging. Hence make the most of this drive to soak in the unique vibes of rural India.
Arriving at Kumbalgarh:
The last stretch of the journey is a winding drive. The hills unveil themselves in all their glory. The air becomes cooler as you ascend the ghats. Soon resorts, hotels and restaurants start dotting the landscape and you know you have arrived at Kumbalgarh.
Kumbalgarh – Sightseeing and more:
We arrived at our destination at around 3:15 pm, couple of hours behind schedule. There was a nip in the air, and unlike the temperature at Udaipur we realised that at night the temperature would plummet further. After some hot tea and pakoras we contemplated whether we ought to attend the light & sound cultural show at the Kumbalgarh fort. It is highly recommended, especially if you want to learn about the history of the region. The show commences at 5:15 pm but we wanted to relax after the drive and decided to give it a miss.
Day 2 Activities in and around Kumbalgarh:
The Morning Jungle Safari:
We woke up early next morning, to discover that due to fresh snow-fall in the Northern regions the temperature had plummeted to the single digits. Our safari started almost an hour later than scheduled around 7:30 am. The guide informed us that the usual sightings were of deers, sloth bears, hyenas, wild boars, macaques and the occasional cheetah.
When we entered the forest it was still dark. The drive is a very bumpy roller-coaster ride on a single lane forest road which the expert jeep drivers navigate with ease. One has to hold on tight to avoid being bumped around.
After having driven for about 20 minutes the first rays of the winter sun started filtering through the jungle foliage. It was an enchanting sight. We sat mesmerised by the myriad hues that unveiled as we made our way through the forest. Large glistening webs, partially frozen streams, dead logs stretched across the river-bed, colourful foliage strewn across the forest floor added to the untainted beauty of the place. We were so mesmerised by the exquisite beauty that surrounded us that we did not miss having not seen a single animal. The drop in temperature had kept the animals away.
You are not allowed to get off the vehicle at any point, but are allowed to take photographs from the confines of the open jeep. There is a forest pit-stop mid-way through the safari. Here you can hop off the vehicle and grab a cup of hot tea or coffee. The sun felt nice and toasty. From this point on, we sighted some animals & birds. We saw a family of macaques basking in the sun, jungle babblers, kingfisher, cormorant, an eagle to name a few. Our guide informed us that the Reserve authorities will be introducing some Lions to the reserve soon.
We exited the Reserve forest gates around 9:30 am and a 15 minutes’ drive brought us back to our abode.
Ranakpur Jain temple:
|Ranakpur Jain Temples|
After resting for about an hour we drove to see the Ranakpur Jain Temple. It is situated about 35 km away from Kumbhalgarh (about an hour’s drive). It is a pleasurable drive through the hilly roads which traverses through villages and lakes and sleepy hamlets to get you to the Ranakpur Jain Temple. Roll down your window glasses, soak in the cool air, put on some nice light music and enjoy the drive.
We arrived at the temple around 1ish and decided to have lunch at the Cafeteria located on the premises (lunch hours close at 1:30pm). They serve wholesome satvik meals at a small price.
|A stairway to heaven|
Post lunch we explored the temple precinct. Audio guides are available at a charge. We decided to explore the temple on our own. Cameras & cell phones are not allowed. There are safe lockers available for storing them. Cameras can however be taken by paying a small fee. I will not delve into the beauty of the place. There are a lot of pictures and the history available online too. It is a must visit for all visitors. We spent about and hour and a half here before making our way back to Kumbhalgarh.
The Kumbalgarh Fort:
We arrived at Kumbhalgarh an hour before the closing of the Fort (Fort closes at 5pm). The sun had started dipping into the horizon and we wanted to catch the view from the top of the fort. It is an arduous climb up the wall and not recommended for anyone with knee problem, breathing issues and for the elderly. Once you’ve reached the top you are treated to the breath-taking view of the entire valley. There are several temples dotting the premises which one can explore.
|The Great Wall of India (36 kms)|
If you have missed the Sound and Light show at the fort the previous night you may want to squeeze it in on this visit. The timing is just right & tickets were available when we enquired.
However, we had our dinner plans at the local home of our guide and we skipped the cultural show.
|Looking at the Shiva Temple through the Fort Wall|
Dinner at a Local Home:
We had some nice evening chai, relaxed a bit and made our way to the local home for a home-cooked meal. Our host’s home was a simple village home setting. The ladies sat around the fire preparing makki-ki-roti (flattened corn bread). We were accorded a very warm welcome. The family room was set with a durrie (mat) for us to sit. The meal was hygienically prepared with some delectable local produce. We had makki-ki-roti, homemade Rajasthani red garlic chutney, some vegetarian dishes and made to order local chicken curry. It was all flavourful and scrumptious. Sitting around the warm hearth on this cold winter night we completely relished the food. To finish off the meal there was a yoghurt digestive “dahi ki rabadi” which hit just the spot. We were offered some home made jaggery for those with a sweet tooth. This was yet another unique experience for us.
Our souls were completely satiated with the sights & sounds of this beautiful place and the genuine warmth & welcoming nature of the local folk.
|Shalini and Sanchit|
To replicate their experience, click here and we would love to design a travel plan for you that would include everything your heart desires to see in Rajasthan and Gujarat.