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Kumbhalgarh

A ghost-town rising out of the rugged landscape of the Aravalli Hills, Kumbhalgarh was the finest of 32 forts built by Maharana Kumbha in the 15th century; its hilltop position meant that it was only conquered once, by a combined force of Mughals and Kachhawah Rajputs from Amber, who cut off its water supply. Located about 80 km north of Udaipur, this impregnable fortress is protected by thirteen Aravalli mountain peaks and looms large over the distant sand dunes of the Thar desert.

Its 36-kilometre wall, the second longest after the Great Wall of China, is dotted with watchtowers and encloses a myriad of ruined temples and shrines; it is estimated there are 360 Hindu and Jain temples within these mighty walls. The most impressive are Rana Kumbha Palace, with its beautiful carved stone windows and jharokas, and Badal Mahal – ‘the Palace of the Clouds’ – which is abundantly decorated with murals and stone jalis, and has wonderful views of the surrounding hills. The palace also has the distinction of being the birthplace of great Rajput warrior king Maharana Rana Pratap.

This UNESCO World Heritage site sits at 914 meters, the highest elevation in Rajasthan after Mount Abu, and it is a fantastic location for trekking enthusiasts, particularly the Kumbhalgarh to Ranakpur trek. Outside the perimeter of Kumbhalgarh in the deep jungle-clad valley below, the 586 sq km Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary is home to wolves, leopards, panthers, sloth bear, four-horned antelope, crocodiles, wild boar and more. It is also a sanctuary for a large number of native and migratory birds such as flamingos, egrets, spoonbills and cormorants.

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