Convenient Excursions around Udaipur
Once you have satiated your fascination for Udaipur’s lakes and palaces to some extent, it is now time to look around the great city. The moment you start exploring, you shall find great many places to tickle your interest, whether you are a history buff, or a plain connoisseur, which are a short distance from Udaipur.
The legends of valor and chivalry associated with the Chittorgarh Fort make it the greatest fort to visit in Rajasthan, perhaps the greatest in India. Located in southern Rajasthan, it sits midway between Delhi and Mumbai, around 100 kms away from Udaipur.
The gigantic fort was the seat of the proud, fiercely freedom loving Mewar dynasty of Sisodia clan and due its indomitable spirit, it continued to maintain its independence for 800 years till the time in 1568, when it could not resist the advance of Mughal army under Akbar. Maharana Udai Singh II was forced to escape, though only to revive his glory with the building of Udaipur city and re-establishing his empire there. The walls of Chittorgarh Fort extend to six kilometers, thus it is advisable to take the trip in a hired vehicle, which still requires good three hours. Some of its parts appear run down with age, but its past splendor is still over-powering. The old palaces are even now fascinating, while its sundry temples and towers are a delight. A climb atop its Vijay Stambha (Tower of Victory) is the greatest treat, which offers a panoramic view across the town.
However, the most overwhelming experience is to visit the royal cremation ground, where tens of thousands of brave Rajput women choose to immolate themselves, by accepting a death with honor, instead of a life in ignominy. This horror occurred thrice during 1303 CE to 1567 CE when the fort was raided by much powerful Islamic armies.
To get a much better understanding of the vicissitudes of history affecting Chittorgarh, an attendance at the evening Sound and Light Show is highly recommended.
Anyone who visits Rajasthan is sure to have heard the name of the bravest of its sons, the legendary Maharana Pratap. It is said that this celebrated warrior king was born in the palace known as Jhalia ka Malia (Palace of Queen Jhali) in 1540 in this mighty Fort, sitting atop the Aravalli Range. This fort was built by the Mewar ruler Rana Kumbha during 15th century. Visiting this fort is itself a stimulating event as the 36 kilometer wall encompassing this fort is second only to the Great Wall of China. This massive wall is broad enough to allow five horses galloping abreast at full speed. The building of this fort required 15 years, though he is credited with only 32 of its 84 fortresses, which were added by later rulers.
This massive fort, hovering high on the hill overlooks all approaches from Ajmer and Marwar and in its entire history, it was captured only once which took the combined strength of Marwar, Amber and Emperor Akbar, but even then, its control was regained by the Mewar Rana in two days.
This fort has now been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site during 2013, in addition to five other Rajasthan forts. Maharana Pratap ascended the Mewar throne after his father Udai Singh II in 1568 CE. True to his family tradition, he spurned all coercion of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, which led to the famous battle of Haldighati, circa 1576, which not only made him a household name in the country, but also raised his horse Chetak as a national icon.Kumbhalgarh, a part of Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, is 100 kms north of Udaipur and is easily covered by a day trip from that city. For an in-depth understanding of the history and ethos of Kumbhalgarh, do not forget to attend the Sound and Light show in the evening.