At the foot of the majestic Kumbhalgarh Fort, is located Kumbhalgarh wildlife sanctuary, a treasure trove of excellent biodiversity with several places of historical and religious importance. It is well connected by road from Udaipur city 80 km, Rajsamand 66 km, Pali80 km.
Geographically situated in the hill tracts of Rajsamand, Udaipur, and Pali district it forms the dividing line between the erstwhile states of Mewar and Marwar.
These woods and hills used to be favorite hunting grounds of the erstwhile rulers of these states. In 1971 this area covering about 610 square miles was declared a wildlife sanctuary.
Well known for its diverse topography, the Eastern part of the sanctuary has hill ranges with an altitude of over 3500 feet while its western part is adjacent to the Marwar planes. Situated at the Southeastern corner of the sanctuary is Jargaji, which is the state’s second-highest peak after Guru Shikhar.
The sanctuary is also important as it forms the dividing line between the two watersheds of the country. From its origin in which Vairon ka math, river Banas flows to Nand Sagar, Yamuna and Ganga and finally the Bay of Bengal. While the rainwater on the Western slope flows in the form of small rivers like Sukdi, Mithdi, Sumer, and Kot and all these forming the tributaries of river Luni that ultimately merge into the Arabian Sea.
From the point of view of biogeography, the sanctuary has several very interesting features as here, there is a Confluence of Peninsular, Himalayan, and Tharian eco elements. There is a combination of Himalayan and South Indian vegetation where plants of cold regions also grow. One can see the thorny variety of trees that grow in deserts as well as some plants that flourish in Aravali Hills. Due to the big difference and altitude, a great variety of vegetation is found in the sanctuary. In the lower altitudes of Marwar planes, Dhok is the main variety. The other trees include Ber , Khair , Gular , Salar , Neem, Kumtha, Aranjia, Ardu, Khejri etc. Common trees at the higher altitudes include Bamboo, Salar, Khirni, Siras, Holoptelea, Godal, Karaya, and Thur. During the rainy season, the sanctuary is full of Zenia and other flowering plants.
Among mammals, the panther is the predator that is found at the apex of the biological pyramid. Other carnivores include wolf, jungle cat, hyena, and jackal. There are herbivores like sambar, chinkara, wild boar and nilgai. Here one can see Chausingha the only species in the wild whose male has four horns and is found only in India. The sloth bear can also be seen in a good number. The Indian wolf and pangolins are some other attractions.
The sanctuary provides a safe shelter to reptiles such as marsh crocodile, star tortoise, Indian mud or flap shell turtle, common garden lizard, common krait, Indian monitor lizard, rat snake, Indian Russell viper, Indian cobra, a water snake, and pythons.
Bird watchers can also have a great time as over 200 species of birds can be seen here. They include babler, barber, bee-eater, cuckoo, bulbul, rock chat, bunting, peafowl, dove, drongos, flycatchers, Grey Jungle fowl, red spurfowl, myna, parakeet, muniya, nightjar, partridge, robin, roller, sandpiper, shrike, sunbird, swallow, tailorbird, tit, treepie, weaver bird, woodpecker, etc. Among birds of prey crested serpent eagle, crested hawk-eagle, shikara, falcon, owlet, etc. can be seen here. In winter dabchick, cormorants, darter, egret, grey heron, white-necked stork, spoonbill, Ibis, Goose, pintail, sarus crane, coots, moorhen, water hen, jacana, snipe, stilt, etc can be sighted easily.
In the serene ambiance of the sanctuary, there are quite a few excellent wildlife viewing places. Situated 7 km from Sadri at the foothills near muchhala Mahavir is the Joba Wolf Point, where the over 500-hectare area with hillocks and natural caves provides an ideal place for watching wolf near water holes or caves. Eight km from Ghanerao near Kharni Tekari is Choti odhi that used to be shooting ground for the erstwhile rulers of Ghanerao. Now it is a favorite spot for watching grey Jungle fowl, sambar, leopard, and sloth bear in the nature resort situated on the bank of Sadri Dam near the famous Ranakpur Jain temple bird lovers can watch hundreds of resident and migratory birds like a stork , pelican, cormorant and dartor, herons, ibis, ducks, geese, teals, coot moorhen, etc. A number of colorful terrestrial and arboreal birds can also be sighted here.
Built-in the valley on the leopard track near Sumer, Rootada Odhi is an ideal site for watching leopard. In the Tari area situated 4 kilometers away from Ranakpur Udaipur road, the Sloth bear and leopard can be seen easily.
The natural vistas in the backdrop of hills provide trekking routes that pass through dense forests, freshwater streams, and steep hills. All this makes forest trails a paradise for nature lovers and trekkers. The attractions of the Odhi Hotel Gate to Ram Tekari viewpoint 2 km tracking include valley view, dense vegetation, birds and fort view of mammals, jungle fowl, and dense vegetation and water hole are the special features of the Areth to Thandi Beri trail (11 km). As the name suggests Thandi Beri is a cool place. It is located on the bank of a tank. The approach from Kumbhalgarh to Thandi Beri is through a forest trek interspersed with seasonal nallas having rich fauna and forest diversity. On the way one can have a view of historical others, shooting boxes, used by erstwhile rulers for hunting but now converted into viewpoints for animal and bird watching. Animals and birds usually cited are sambar, wild boar, grey jungle fowl, yellow-footed green pigeon, etc. Occasionally leopards, sambhars, and sloth bears are also seen. So also crocodiles basking near the anicut . Situated in the foothills of Aravali on the Desuri -Jojavar Road, Sumer is one of the best places for viewing wild animals and birds. It is surrounded by a big patch of dry deciduous Dhok forest in almost plain terrain. Sighting of a variety of animals like leopard, sloth bear, sambar, civet, grey Jungle fowl that comes to the artificial water hole to quench theIR thirst in summers, is a memorable experience.
In the Pirbaosi ki, Naal to Mahudy Khet to Areth, (6-kilometre) trail can be seen wild animals, dense vegetation, and grass patches. One can view wild animals, animal tracks, and vegetation in Rana Kankar to Malgarh trail, 12 km. The 18-kilometer fort wall Trek provides a view of the historic structures, waterholes, flora, etc.
As the name indicates Teerthankar Nature Trail is dedicated to Jain Teerthankars . Situated opposite the famous Ranakpur Jain temple the trail that is about 3.7 km long represents the rich Aravali ecosystem. The person who propounds the teachings of true religion and works towards the salvation of oneself as well as others are known as Teerthankar, Human God. 19 of the 23 of them adopted natural objects as their symbols. They attained enlightenment while meditating under some particular tree. Along with nature, the trail has been planted different species of such trees. Biography of each Teerthankar along with the tree and symbol associated with him have been displayed at the appropriate place. The aim of all this is to display the love of these Teerthankars for trees and wildlife and in turn create awareness about conservation of nature among others.
There are wayside signages that provide information about animals, birds, and natural features of this area. Over 70 species of trees, 150 species of herbs and shrubs and 200 varieties of birds can be seen along the natural trail. Along the trail have been developed 5 sports to admire the scenic beauty of the Aravali Range.
As the hilly trek provides an ideal site for Horse Safari, visitors can enjoy it on several routes viz Kumbalrgarh to Ghane Rao via Thandi Beri 20 km, Ranakpur to Thandi Beri 15 kilometer, Thandi Beri to Sumer 20 kilometer and Roopan Mata to Ranakpur 30 km. The facility of nature camping and forest rest house is also available at several places.
Surrounded on all the four sides by the sanctuary is the magnificent Kumbhalgarh Fort built by Maharana Kumbha in 1448 AD at the height of 3600 feet on the top of a hill. The historic invincible fort is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap. From the fort, one can have a fine view of the sanctuary. The fort has the second longest wall of 38 km of the world after China.
Also situated in the sanctuary is the well-known Ranakpur Jain Temple that was built by Jain Dharm Shah during the reign of Rana Kumbha. A unique example of exquisite architecture and sculpture, its unique feature is its minute stone carving that is worth seeing. Some other nearby famous temples are Muchhala Mahavir Jain temple, Parshuram Mahadev temple, and Phoota Dewal Mandir. A new attraction for those going to Kumbhalgarh is the Hamerpal Lake where one can watch and feed African catfish. Also can be enjoyed boat riding the sanctuary is a fascinating mix of the splendors of natural beauty, history, and religion.