We set out from Udaipur in the early hours of the morning towards Haldighati. After having lunch at Haldighati we headed to Kumbhalgarh. The drive to Kumbhalgarh was treacherous and we’d hired a driver. I remember it was pitch black in the evening as we were descending the Fort.
There are no lights on the road from Haldighati to Kumbhalgarh and hence post-sunset it takes an experienced person to navigate. Also, it’s a wildlife sensitive zone and you must be very careful while driving. One of the cars leading ours ran over a hyena and the police were called.
One can hire a driver from Udaipur, can ask your hotel to help you find one, or just go to the nearest taxi stand and you’ll find one. For more information, check out this travel blog on Udaipur dedicated to it.
Rajasthan is marked with some of the most momentous places. I use the word momentous because these places have a history that shakes your core. As a Gujarati, these ancient kingdoms of the Rajputs and the Marathas are of great significance to me. That’s because we owe our culture to them.
Our values, customs, and faith were protected from the numerous invaders because these Kings of a gone by era made remarkable sacrifices.
Haldighati’s Historical background…
Haldighati to Kumbhalgarh: Haldighati (Haldi: Yellow like Turmeric and Ghati: Valley) laterally translates to the yellow valley. It’s yellow because of the abundance of limestone in the region. This valley has been immortalized by the epic battle of Haldighati fought in 1576 between the Mughals and the Mewari Rajputs. Specifically, it was Akbar versus Maharana Pratap.
Historical accounts verify that around 6000-10,000 Mughal soldiers fought with 3000 Rajput soldiers. And yet they could not mark a clear victory. Even though the Mughals theoretically won, but Rana Pratap managed to escape along with his close relatives. Hence the Mughal victory was just in vain.
Caution Pet lovers: Tears ahead
The real significance of Haldighati lies in a very touching incident.
Rana Pratap had a horse called Chetak. Chetak was a beautiful white horse and grew up with the King. In the battle of Haldighati, despite being severely injured, Chetak saved Rana’s life by evacuating him from the battlefield. He eventually subsided to his injuries and died. Chetak was more loyal to Rana than his own brother and fellow Rajputs who had allied with the Mughals.
Then at Haldighati
Riding around 40kms and we were at “the destination”.
There’s a museum that commemorates the epic war. The museum also preserves the real armor of the Rana and I kid you not it’s darn heavy. They say, he was a huge man with a height of 7ft. There’s the sword which takes 4 people to lift. It’s a nice place with statues. The museum was made by the government of India in 1997.
The Chetak Memorial was instigated by Rana Pratap himself after he managed to reconquer Mewar. This also means, technically: HE WON!
The nearby Molela village is famous for terracotta and you can buy handicrafts from there and support the local industries. #vocalforlocal
You can have your meal in restaurants around Rakt-talai. Then head out on the Maharana Pratap Marg to Kumbhalgarh. After 2hrs of drive on that roller coaster of a road (do take your sickness medications along)
We reached Kumbhalgarh.
Did you know that the wall of the Kumbhalgarh Fort is the second largest in the world after the great wall of China!
The fort itself is the second largest fort in the country only after the Chitoor Fort. It is located in the Aravalli mountains. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site some time back. Fort opens between 9 am to 6 pm so keep that in mind.
Here are some great deals for accommodations in Khumbhalgarh from Booking.com just for you!
There’s a ‘light and sound show’ which takes place in the fort at dusk. It’s one of the most fascinating experiences I have had to date. The show details the story of the building of the fort. It was built by Rana Kumbha(Prataps’ grandpa) and then in a battle, the Sisodia Rajputs lost the fort. It was unconquered by Rana Udai Singh(Prataps’ dad) and then Pratap was born here.
There are plot twists and a lot of conspiracy in this story but I don’t want to give away all the spoilers. Go search around the net and find for yourself!
Imagine being in the Aravalli hills, in a cold winter month. With the sun on the verge of setting and a fort so big, you have to hold on to your mum’s hand. Sitting on some archaic steps visualizing a colorful delight on what used to be a Kings’ stage. It’s a feeling to behold.
I have been to many forts in Rajasthan and Kumbhalgarh is my favorite. Primarily because it’s never crowded. Also, most forts and palaces in Rajasthan are set in bustling towns. Kumbhalgarh stands out as a recluse in its location, view, and the experience altogether.
Thoughts from Haldighati and Kumbhalgarh
It was probably because I grew up listening to the stories of the brave Rajputs. These folks had some very high held values. That land smells of self-respect and valor. Things would have been so different, probably for good, if only all the Rajput Kingdoms had stayed united. History would have been so different if only some people had the audacity to face it.
This is the thought I sleep with: “History will be so different if only we face the hard times bravely and our morals intact”.
Do check out this blog on Bali for another wholesome experience.
Please do comment below if you’ve had such impactful travel experiences as well!
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