Fort in Kumbhalgarh

One of the many forts built by Rana Kumbha (r 1433–68), under whom Mewar reached its greatest extents, this isolated fort with a derelict palace is perched 1100m above sea level, with hazy views melting into the distance. The journey to the fort, along twisting roads through the Aravalli Hills, is a highlight in itself, while the crumbling empty palace complex within the fort hardly justifies the foreigner entry price.

Kumbhalgarh was the most important Mewar fort after Chittorgarh, and the rulers, sensibly, used to retreat here in times of danger. Not surprisingly, Kumbhalgarh was only taken once in its entire history. Even then, it took the combined armies of Amber, Marwar and Mughal emperor Akbar to breach its strong defences, and they only managed to hang on to it for two days.

The fort’s thick walls stretch about 36km; they’re wide enough in some places for eight horses to ride abreast and it’s possible to walk right round the circuit (allow two days). They enclose around 360 intact and ruined temples, some of which date back to the Mauryan period in the 2nd century BC, as well as palaces, gardens, step-wells and 700 cannon bunkers.

If you’re staying here and want to make an early start on your hike around the wall, you may still get into the fort before 9am, although no one will be around to sell you a ticket.

There’s a Light and Sound Show (in Hindi) at the fort at 6.30pm (Indian/foreigner ₹118/236).