UNESCO Heritage Site #98: Hill Forts of Rajasthan

This UNESCO site consists of six different fort locations, and I actually forgot to count it, because I have visited some of them over the span of three years, so I thought I would quickly add this Heritage Site to my tally. The Hill Forts of Rajasthan include Chittorgarh, Gagron, Jaisalmer, Amber, Kumbhalgarh and Ranthambore, the latter three of which I have visited. As I have been to Amber fort in Jaipur way back in 2014, I am only going to describe the two forts that I had visited last year.

One day during my stay in Ranthambore National Park, I hiked up to see the eponymous fort. Some accounts say that it was built more than a thousand years ago, and it has changed many hands over the years. It eventually became the base for Maharajas of Rajpur with the Ranthambore park below becoming their hunting grounds. Unlike many other forts, it does not charge admission charge, and it is in fact a living fort, where a lot of people still live in the centuries-old stone buildings. It was fascinating to see the donkeys carrying the goods to the marketplace which probably hasn’t changed since the Middle Ages.

Kumbhalgarh fort is 82 km away from Udaipur, and it was definitely built to impress. The chubby rounded bastions are connected by solid, massive ramparts. In fact, Kumbhalgarh has the destinction of containing the second-longest wall in the world. At this point, it should probably be noted that the longest wall in the world is obviously the Great Wall of China at 21,196 kilometers. So it could be said that Kumbhalgarh is second by a mile. Or by 21,158 kilometers, if you prefer.

One unfortunate thing that all three forts have in common is the perceivable state of archeological abandonment that they are in. As crowds of tourists wear down the stone steps and as the blistering sun widens the cracks in the walls, there have been few if any restoration efforts carried out, and it certainly feels that the forts are simply left to deteriorate. I certainly hope that their recent confirmation as a UNESCO Heritage Site will ensure the future preservation of these forts.

Practicalities:

Transportation: The forts are out of the city, so a bus or a taxi will be required to get to them.

Time: The forts are very large, so it depends on your level of curiosity and interest, but on average they could be explored in a few hours.

Cost: As the Heritage Sites, the entrance to the forts is 250 rupees for non-Indian tourists. Ranthambore fort is free.

Extras: The forts are expansive, and some areas might be steep and crumbling, so bring comfortable shoes. And a LOT of sunscreen!

 

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