Lodged stoically on a quite hilltop in remote interiors of the Aravali hills is a less known marvel of Indian history which, despite its significance, has not come to the attention of the public at large as compared to other famous monuments of Indian history. This is the Fort of Kumbalgarh in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan. The little known but highly significant fact of this historical monument is that it lays claim to be the second longest wall in the world, second only to the Great wall of China ! First built in 15th century by Rajput ruler Rana Kumbh in whose name the place is so named, the fort and its robustly built walls that runs for a total distance of about 36 kilometers are still intact to this day.
The second significant fact is that it is also the birth place of Mewar’s greatest hero Maharana Pratap Singh whose legend is sung in the annals of Indian history. It is told that Maharana Udai Singh II, the father of Rana Pratap and the then ruler of Mewar, retreated to the safety of Gogunda when his capital Chittorgarh fell to the mighty Mughal army of Emperor Akbar. Young Rana Pratap was deeply affected by the retreat and swore an oath to fight the Mughals to liberate Mewar. On ascending the throne of Mewar, he shifted his capital to his birth place Kumbalgarh which was lodged deep in the Aravalis, a difficult terrain for the Mughal army to operate. The famous battle of Haldighati of 1576 was his first battle against the Mighty Akbar, fought in the mountainous pass of Haldighati (about 60 kms away) pitching his twenty thousand warriors against the eighty thousand strong Mughal army led by acclaimed Rajput King Raja Man Singh. Though he received a beating and managed to escape after being surrounded by Mughal army, he was never subjugated and spent most part of his life roaming the jungles, taking up several penances and leading a warrior’s life. While most Rajput kings came under the suzerainty of the Mughals, Maharana Pratap stood resolute with his vow and managed to liberate most of Mewar including Udaipur and Kumbalgarh, although he failed to win back his beloved Chittor. Such is the legend of Kumbalgarh that gave birth to an epic hero.