The ridges of the Aravalli range ripple west and north of Udaipur into country that has always been something of a world apart from the rest of the region. Its cultivable valleys and surviving tracts of forest are the homeland of semi-nomadic Bhil herders, whose villages may be seen from the road to this area’s great sight, Kumbhalgarh Fort. Built by Rana Kumbha in the 15th century, the citadel presided over the craggy border of medieval Mewar and Marwar, at an altitude of 1,100m (3,600ft), and enjoys a fabulous panoramic view across the surrounding hills and down to the desert plains below.
The plateau on which the fort rests is encircled by 36km (22 miles) of crenelated battlements, 15ft thick and studded at regular intervals with barrel-sided bastions. The second largest rampart in Asia, it’s often referred to in tourist literature as ‘India’s Great Wall’ after its resemblance to the one in China. These impressive fortifications, which enclose around 360 crumbling Hindu and Jain temples, proved almost impregnable. Despite numerous attempts to breach the defences, only the Mughal emperor Akbar was successful (though he cheated by poisoning the water supply).
A spectacular citadel in a wonderfully dramatic location, Kumbhalgarh is best appreciated when the daytrippers have left.
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