The Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary will come as a surprise to those who consider Rajasthan a desert
The Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary will come as a surprise to those who consider Rajasthan a desertstate. The green tracts of the park form the dividing line between the former states of Mewar and Marwar. Once the hunting grounds of royals, this area was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1971. The diverse topography of the park adds to its charms. In its eastern part are ranges that loom over 3,478 ft, as well as the source of the River Banas. The Marwar plains lie to the northwest of the sanctuary. The rainwater on the western slopes flows as small rivers such as Sukdi, Mithdi, Sumer and Kot, all of which are the tributaries of River Luni that ultimately merges into the Arabian Sea. The sanctuary is known to be home to chausinghas (four-horned antelopes), leopards, panthers and sloth bears.
Kumbhalgarh spreads across 610 sq km of the Aravalli Ranges. Since the Forest Department does not have its own vehicles, it’s best to hire your vehicle from Kumbhalgarh or Kelwara (about 6 km before Kumbhalgarh). Kumbhal Castle Hotel arranges jeeps to take their guests around the sanctuary. Ganpath and Ajit Singh from Narlai (Cell: 09414523037) arrange horse safaris around the sanctuary.
Park Entry Indians ₹20; Foreigners ₹160 Vehicle Entry Two-wheelers ₹20; jeep, car and minibus ₹130; Timings Sunrise-sunset, Closed July-September Videography ₹400
THING TO SEE AND DO
Kumbhalgarh has many options for tourists – apart from jeep safaris, you can also go trekking here. There are points of historic interests in the sanctuary too.
Jeep Jungle Safari
The 15-km long drive from Kumbhalgarh to Thandi Beri is the most popular jeep journey in the sanctuary. In the 3.5 hours that it takes to get to Thandi Beri and back, you can see leopards, bears, sambar – if you are fortunate that is. You can also visit the famous 15th-century Jain temples at Ranakpur, located at one end of the sanctuary.
Trekking is allowed in the sanctuary, and the hilly terrain is ideal for it. You can either request a forest guard to accompany you (₹200-500 a day) or ask your travel agent to arrange a guide for you. Popular walking trails are Kumbhalgarh to Thandi Beri (14 km), Roopnagar to Sumer (98 km), Ranakpur to Ranakankar (15 km), Ranak pur to Kumbhalgarh (25 km), Malgarh to Magga (8 km), Roopanmata to Ranakpur (30 km) nd Ranakpur to Thandi Beri (15 km). Your entry permit to the sanctuary is the only document required to go on treks.
Tirthankar Nature Trail
Located opposite the Ranakpur temples, this 3.7-km long trail is an ode to the Jain tirthankaras and is also representative of an ideal Aravalli ecosystem. Along this trail are planted the species of various trees under which the 24 Jain tirthan karas got enlightenment.
Joba Wolf Point
Situated about 7 km from Sadri near Joba Village, this is a wolf habitat. Set at the foot hills near the Muchala Mahaveer Temple, 500 hectares of the forest here are home to the Indian wolf.
About 2 km from the sanctuary, the Kumbhalgarh Fort is considered the second most impressive fort in Mewar, after Chittaurgarh. Built in 1448 by King Rana Kumbha of Mewar (after whom the fort gets his name), at a height of 3,600 ft, it was also the birthplace of King Rana Pratap. There is a basti inside the fort, making it a ‘living’ monument. There are also two teashops on the fort premises.
WHERE TO STAY
Tourists to Kumbhalgarh have the option of staying either within the sanctuary or outside. As people visit Kumbhalgarh for both the sanctuary and the fort, peak season is usually very busy – so do book in advance.
In the Sanctuary
The Forest Rest Houses in the sanctuary are located at Thandi Beri, Ranakankar, Sumer, Sadri and Roopanmata. All have two to three rooms each at ₹200-400 per night. For bookings, contact the Assistant Conservator of Forests, Kumbhalgarh WLS, Sadri or the DFO Wildlife’s office in Rajsamand. The forest guesthouses don’t provide food. How ever, in the rest houses, the caretaker can arrange food on request. Carry your own stove or packed meals.
Outside the Sanctuary
The Aodhi (Tel: 02954-242341-46; Tariff: ₹7,200-8,400) is a top-end luxury hotel here with a multicuisine restaurant, a pool and a café. Kumbhal Castle Hotel (Tel: 292041; Tariff: ₹3,300-3,800), about 2 km from the fort, has a pool, restaurant and AC rooms. Club Mahindra Fort Kumbhalgarh (Cell: 097722-10351; Tariff: ₹7,000-8,500), is a family-oriented luxury hotel with a swimming pool and a gym.
About 6 km before Kumbhalgarh is Kelwara Village, where budget travellers can find clean rooms. Hotel Ratna Deep (Cell: 09001716070; Tariff: ₹1,300-1,500 for rooms and ₹2,500-4,000 for a dorm) here has a restaurant, TV and parking facilities. Karni Palace (Cell: 094141 62347; Tariff: ₹7,500-8,500) has a vegetarian restaurant as well as a travel desk.
WHERE TO EAT
The hotels at Kumbhalgarh have restau rants that serve Rajasthani dishes such as safed maas (mutton in a curry of almonds, cashews, coconut kernel paste, poppy seeds and white pepper) as well as pasta and fish and chips. The two hotels at Kelwara offer simpler fare. It’s best, however, to stick to the Rajasthani thali.
When to go Open through the year but December to March is a good time to spot animals Location In southern Rajasthan. The famous 15th-century Jain temples at Ranakpur lie to the west of the sanctuary Air Nearest airport: Udaipur Rail Nearest rail: Falna
Tourist/ Wildlife Offices
Tourist Reception Centre
Government Hostel Campus
MI Road, Jaipur
RTDC Central Reservation Office
Hotel Swagatam Complex
Near Railway Station
Pandara Road, New Delhi
Tel: 011-23389525, 23383837
Assistant Conservator of Forests
Kumbhalgarh WLS, Sadri
STD code 02934
Tourist Information Bureau
Near RTDC Hotel Chandrawati
STD code 07432
Rajasthan Tourism Reception Centre
Near Circuit House, Kota Road
STD code 0747
Mandawa Circle, Churu Bypass Road
Tourist Information Centre
RTDC, Opp Alwar Railway Station
STD code 0144