The original fortress seems to have been built by King Samprati of Maurya dynasty in the 6th century. But the fortress in current form is credited to be built by Rana Kumbha. The peculiar vessel like fortress wall is unique amongst all the fortress. Probably the architect conceived it to have a better foundation for the gateways and give a unique look. The famous architect of time Madam is supposed to have designed this fortress along with 32 others.
Historical events such as rescue of Prince Udai Singh, the founder of Udaipur city by Panna Dhai Ma from Chittaurgarh. Birth of Maharana Prataph Singh in this fortress and Capture of the fort by Akbar in 1576 which was only time when the defences were breached. The thickness of wall is 15 feet and 7 fortified gateways are built at vantage point for entry into the fortress.
Some of the important landmarks inside the fortress are Lakhola tank which is spread across 5 kms. It was used for drinking purpose by the soldiers guarding the fortress and royalty. There is a hindu Ganesh and Shiv Temple which were built in 1458. The idol of Shiva is made of black granite and depicted by 12 hands. The temple was renovated by Rana Sangha.
A Jain temple dedicated to one of the Jain Thirtankara Parsvanath was built in 1513. There is a Mataji temple located on the southern side. Surya or Sun temple is also present inside the fortress.
Legendary tales of the construction of the fortress points to an obstacle to build a wall near the enterance of the fort. A divine intervention was sought regarding overcoming the difficulty faced in construction. The King was advised by the tantric that a voluntary human sacrifice has to be undertaken so that the evil spirits are driven away. For sometime there was no volunteer for the sacrifice but one day a piligrim came and was ready for the sacrifice as per the rituals. He was beheaded near the enterance and thus the obstacle faced in construction was removed. In his memory a temple was constructed near the enterance.
Sound and light show is also organised by ASI thankfully with minimum ticket price. Tourism department organises concerts and dance festival along with Heritage Fort walk during the annual festivity in memory of Maharana Kumbha. A wildlife sanctuary is located around the Kumbalgarh fortress. There is proposal to introduce Lion and Cheetah into the sanctuary to promote tourism. The sanctuary is spread currently to over 578 kms.
Kumbalgarh fort was declared a world heritage site in 2013 alongwith group of 5 other hill forts in Rajasthan. The fortress is spread over 38 kms and maintained by ASI, that is the primary reason why the tickets are reasonably priced when compared to the palaces which are privately owned. I would rather recommend avoid seeing private palaces and havelis except for selected ones since it reminds me of the legacy of being still under the royalty and getting exploited.
We quickly ascended the fortress and completed the visit within an hour since we had to proceed to the next destination which was Ranakpur. We were on a round taxi trip from Udaipur. We missed the lighting of the fortress during the sound and light show.