It was actually quite a bit of fortune that we had to detour through Udaipur because not only was it a really cool place to be but we were going to be able to use it as a base to see the second longest wall in the world! Yes a mere 80km away was India’s longest wall and all joking aside I had read that it was worth a visit.
Our host at the hostel helped us organise a private car to take us to the wall and then another temple before returning us to Udaipur. We set off with our guide Zabban at 8am. His English was good enough for a broken conversation and we had a good time driving out through some villages and farmland towards the wall. It is off season at the moment and he explained to us that we were his first tour booking in 16 days! People certainly do it pretty tough here none more so than the villagers and the farmers who were all desperately waiting for rain. We are about a month away from the monsoons and the land is as dry as it could possibly be. Rivers are completely dry and there is an incredible dust in the air. It doesn’t look possible that anything could grow at this point in time but we are assured that once the rain comes the whole area is actually very green. I would hate to see what would happen to these people if the rains didn’t come.
After a couple of hours we arrived at the entrance to the castle at Kumbhalgarh and what an impressive sight it was. I was a little relieved as this had been my idea and we had just driven through some pretty desolate and dusty terrain on some fairly bad roads in the heat. The sight of the castle on the hill and the wall strung out across the countryside was well worth it though, phew.
The fort was built in the 15th century and the walls are 36km long in a huge circle. There are 360 temples within the walls as well as dams and other ruins. It was only ever defeated once and that must have been quite a feat.
As we climbed up to the fort it was clear how thick and well built the whole place was. Once inside the inner fort walls there were many rooms and courtyards where the royal family and other dignitaries would have lived. The rooms had open windows and their design meant that they were much cooler than the outside. It was definitely a fort rather than a palace though and the defenses made it all seem a bit like a prison as you could only get the occasional view of the surrounding countryside.
We had a great time exploring all the rooms in the fort before we headed back down the hill to have a little walk along the walls which were huge and again seem impregnable. We got to see a couple of temples which were impressive but to explore the whole place we would have needed a lot longer and to be fair we were ready to head home.
We joined back up with our guide who told us it was only an hour or so to the next temple and at the time we weren’t sure what this temple was and whether we could be bothered to head further away from home but he seemed pretty insistent so we didn’t put up much of a fight.
Thank goodness we didn’t. It was fairly poor of us not to have researched where we were going and it turned out that the temple was one of the biggest and most impressive Jain temples in India, The Ranakpur temple complex.
The list of rules and regulations for us to get in was long and complicated, but mostly involved us paying for lots of tickets like camera tickets, mobile phone tickets, trouser hire (my sarong was rejected) but once we had paid them enough money we entered an amazing Temple. Unfortunately in the backwards and forwards between the security guard and the ticket office we got so sidetracked with trying to get in that we forgot to take a photo of the outside, trust us though it was beautiful.
Our jaws hit the floor as we stepped through the door. Jain temples are renowned for their marble and intricate carvings and this was another level. There were 1444 individually carved pillars in 29 halls with 80 domes. The entire place was made of marble and every inch had detailed carvings on it. We couldn’t believe our luck, I think it was made all the more impressive by the fact that we weren’t sure what to expect and so when we first saw it all it was just incredible.
We spent ages walking around taking photos and inspecting the various designs. It’s just such an amazing place and I can’t believe it’s situated here in the middle of nowhere! The two sights had made the journey well worth it and we both clambered back into the car to head back to Udaipur. It was at this point that we discovered our second piece of poor research. Our guide asked us what we were doing tomorrow and we told him that we were getting up at 5 am to head to Jodhpur. He laughed and told us that we were over halfway there and most people use the trip to get themselves to Jodhpur! We weren’t laughing.
Lucky we did head back to Udaipur though as we were able to sit on our rooftop and enjoy a wonderful curry, a cold beer and a spectacular view out over Udaipur. Definitely a great day! T
The Kumbhalgarh Fort.
One of the many temple complexes contained within the city walls.
Fairly impressive walls rising up in this mountainous area make the fort seem very impregnable.
Mor of the views from the top of the fort walls.
The courtyards of the Palace within the fort all had these fantastic archways.
The decoration wa simple yet effective.
While lovely the courtyards made you feel a little penned in.
Looking out over Rajasthan from the top of the fort.
India’s longest wall stretching out into the distance.
A shot showing the interior of the Palace within the fort. There were staircases leading this way and that joining a miriad of courtyards and rooms.
Again the wall and the temples surrounding the fort. The whole area to the left was enclosed by the wall literally as far as the eye could see.
The view back to the fort from the temple below.
Try scaling that!
The wonderful carvings at the Ranakpur Temple complex. Just magical. Nothing to be said just marvel in the detail!
Oddly the only plain carvings were those of the deities.