Kumbhalgarh (Lat. 25º 09′ N; Long. 73º 36′ E) is situated in the Kelwada tehsil of district Rajsamand. It is at a distance of about 80 km northwest of Udaipur amidst the Aravalli hills. Due to its strategic location, it is considered as the second most important fort of Rajasthan. Its construction is attributed to Rana Kumbha between AD 1443 and 1458 under the supervision of famous architect Mandan. The fort was constructed on the site of an older castle which is ascribed to Samprati, a Jaina prince of the second century BC.
Rana Fateh Singh (1885-1930 AD), one of the greatest builders of the time constructed Badal Mahal inside the fort. The important buildings within the fort are Badal Mahal, Kumbha Palace, Brahmanical and Jain Temples, water reservoirs, baoris, chhattris etc.
The following are the brief account of important monuments inside the fort:
The fort is entered from the south through a gate known as Aret Pol, followed by gateways known as Halla Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ram Pol and Vijay Pol. The Hanuman Pol is significant as it enshrines an image of Hanuman which was brought by Rana Kumbha from Mandavpur. The palatial complex at the top is approached further through three gateways viz., the Bhairon Pol, the Nimboo Pol and the Paghra Pol. One more gateway is situated on the east which is known as Danibatta. This gateway connects Mewar region with Marwar.
The Ganesh temple was built during the time of Maharana Kumbha and it is located along the road leading to the palaces. According to one of the inscriptions of Kirttistambha of Chittaurgarh fort, Rana Kumbha consecrated an image of Ganesha in this temple.
The Vedi temple was built by Rana Kumbha in AD 1457 for performing rituals after completion of the fort. The building is double storeyed and erected on a high platform. The temple faces west. It is octagonal on plan with thirty-six pillars supporting the domical ceiling. A triple shrined temple dedicated to goddesses is located to the east of this temple.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
Situated to the east of Vedi shrine, this temple was built in AD 1458 and enshrines a Siva linga in the garbhagriha. It is built on raised platform accessible from west through a flight of steps. The temple consists of a sanctum and an open pillared mandapa all around. The shrine is sarvtobhadra with entrance from all the four directions. A stone inscription on the left pillar of the western gate mentions about its renovations by Rana Sanga.
The temple was built by Nar Singh Pokhad in Vikrama Samvat 1508 (AD 1451). It houses a three feet high idol of Jaina Tirthankara Parsvanatha.
Bawan Devi Temple
This famous Jaina shrine derives its name from the fifty-two (bawan) shrines in a single compound built around the main shrine. The bigger shrine among the group consists of a sanctum, antarala and an open mandapa. An image of Jaina Tirthankara is carved on the lalatabimba of the doorway. The smaller shrines are devoid of any idols.
Golerao Group of Temples
The Golerao group of temples is located adjacent to Bawan Devi Temple and consists of nine shrines enclosed by a circular wall. The shrines are adorned with beautiful carved sculptures of gods and goddesses on its exterior. On the basis of architectural style, the group may be ascribed to the period of Rana Kumbha. A sculpture bears an inscription dated V. S. 1516 (AD 1459) and speaks of one Govinda.
This temple is also known as Kumbha Shyam, and it consists of a flat roofed sanctum and a pillared mandapa. An inscription of Rana Kumbha giving detailed history of Kumbhalgarh was fixed on this temple. A large number of carved idols of gods and goddesses were recovered from the premises of this temple.
Pitalia Dev Temple
This east facing Jain shrine is located in the northern part of the fort. Built by Pitalia Jain Seth in V. S. 1512 (AD 1455) on a raised plinth, the temple consists of a pillared sabhamandapa and a sanctum having entrances from all the four directions. The jangha is adorned with images of gods and goddesses besides asparas and dancers.
The palace of Rana Kumbha is located close to the Pagda Pol. The palace is a two storeyed edifice. It consists of two rooms, a corridor in the middle and open spaces. The rooms are provided with jharokas and windows in stones.
Birth Place of Maharana Pratap
The mansion known as Jhalia ka Malia or the Palace of Queen Jhali is situated near Pagda Pol. This is believed to be the place where Maharana Pratap was born. It is constructed of rubble stone with plain walls and flat roof. The traces of painting can still be seen on the wall.
Badal Mahal is situated at the highest point of the fort. It was built by Rana Fateh Singh (AD 1885-1930). The palace is a two storeyed structure divided into two interconnected distinct portions i.e. the Zanana Mahal and the Mardana Mahal. This palace is profusely decorated with wall paintings. The Zanana mahal is provided with stone jalis which facilitated the queens to see the court proceedings and other events in privacy.
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