Today’s day was decided for Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur. Kumbhalgrah is one of the legendary forts in Rajasthan, famous for its gigantic wall stretching over 36 km. This wall, second largest in the world after the Great Wall of China, is popularly known as the Great Wall of India. The fort was built by Maharana Kumbha in the 15th century. It served as place of refuge for the infant Prince Udai when Chittorgarh was at siege. It is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap. Together with five other magnificent forts, this fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fort was on my bucket list for long time. Today was the day to live the dream. I started around 9 am from Udaipur. The highway was smooth and had almost no traffic. Riding a bullet on the highway passing through rocky hills of Aravali was an experience beyond words! I was feeling like this road should never end. But alas! The diversion to Kumbhalgarh appeared and I ended up on a narrow countryside road full of potholes! After maneuvering through the battlefield for almost an hour, a smoother road was in sight.
|The magnificent Kumbhalgarh|
|The Great Wall of India|
The road started going uphill and the landscape was turning into a forest. Two steep curves and lo and behold. The gigantic fort gate and its massive wall stood in front of me. I parked my bike and went in. The main palaces of the fort were on a hill on the left side. A paved path was going uphill. Crossing the intermediate gates, I reached Badal Mahal. From here, the view of the fort premises and surrounding hills was simply breathtaking. I clicked a lot of pictures and came down. On the right side of the gate were a few temples. The first one was Vedi temple. This two storied temple was built in Nagara style. There were three disjoint Shikhara and all of them were intricately carved. From here, I climbed on the fort wall. Standing on a world-famous structure was quite a different feeling. The fort looked like an old sage meditating on a mighty hill. The wall sprawling over the mountain ridges appeared like his matted hair. It was a sunny afternoon and the wind had vanished in the thin air. I sat there for a while just looking at the grandeur of the fort.
|The courtyard of Badal Mahal|
|Valleys and fields surrounding the fort|
|The Vedi Temple|
|The never-ending wall|
|The fort and the Vedi temple as seen from the Great Wall of India|
It was already past 2 PM and I had to reach Ranakpur before the temple closes. I grabbed a quick meal near the fort entrance and headed toward Ranakpur. The distance was hardly 50 km, but the road was in shambles. Finally, I reached a town called Sayra from where the condition of the road improved. Now the ghat section started. I was driving through the dense forest of Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. Being a dry season, there were hardly any leaves on tress. The thousand shades of brown and yellow created uneven mosaics on the landscape. The pleasant ride was soon over as I reached the famous temple of Ranakpur.
|The Chaumukha temple of Ranakpur|
|As you enter the temple, you feel like entering a different world|
|Mind-blowing carvings on the ceiling|
|The elephant hall|
This temple was built by a local businessman in the 15th century. It is an architectural wonder built in white marble in the middle of a forest. It is built in Maru-Gurjara style and houses Adinatha idol in the sanctum. The Adinatha idol is of four faces, symbolizing quest in four directions. Thus, the temple is also called as Chumukha temple. The temple courtyard is bound by a wall, which houses several sub-shrines. The temple has 29 halls, 1444 pillars, and 80 domes. Of note, no two pillars are the same! The area around the temple was clean and well-managed.
There wasn’t a ticket to enter the temple; however, I had pay 100 bucks just to take pictures inside. An audio guide was available. But the time for renting it was already over. I climbed up the steep plight of stairs and entered the temple. It just felt like a wonderland. The carvings on the inner side of the roof were simply mind-blowing. The pillars were intricately decorated. Each hall had a unique appearance. The hall I liked the most was the one with an elephant. The proportions of animal’s body parts and the decorations on its trunk and back were impeccably perfect. Most of the carvings depicted stories from Jain mythology. The sunlight penetrated through narrow openings and shone over marble structures, giving a mystic, spiritual experience. I was walking through the temple premises like a starry-eyed kid. My camera was probably exhausted because of constant shutter movement. I just didn’t realize how time passed. It was almost 6 PM and I had to reach Udaipur before it gets too dark. I unwillingly rushed out of the temple and started my journey back to Udaipur.
|The intricate carving|
|The hall full of carved pillars|
|A subshrine in the temple|
To be continued...
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