The Treasured Destination of Rajasthan - Mount Abu
I am not sure of how many times I have been to this hill-town but still marvel at the beauty and pleasure which it offers. This hill station has a special place in my heart and I always look forward to visiting it. Having lived in Abu Road for three years during some of the best years of life, this was almost our monthly trip destination and hence had become our second home. It is this fact that as soon as I hear name of Mount Abu, a cloud of nostalgia engulfs my mind and heart. I am reminded of those playful funs we had here during the childhood and realization that there are very few moments that may be as special as the ones we spent here. Having said all the above, I am sure you realize the level of excitement when we finally made our program to go back to the romance of this hill station – wife accompanying me this time was an added charm.
Delwara Temples – our first stop of the trip and a great way to kick-start the tour on a spiritual note. There are Jain temples carved in marble and showcase ultimate art in curvatures and engravings. The entire complex comprises of 5 different temples devoted to various Jain trithankaras(saints). These temples were built between 11th and 13th century from huge marble blocks carried on elephant backs. The way these temples are decoratively beautiful from inside yet look like a ruin from outside. This was done intentionally to keep these out of eyes of aggressors who would like to destroy such creations.
Guru Shikhar – the highest point of Rajasthan situated over 1722 meters above sea level is something that no itinerary of the city should miss. It takes about 150 steps uphill to reach Guru Shikhar, at top of which there is a caved temple of Dattatreya, an incarnation of Vishnu. There also is huge bell suspended by a wooden frame and carrying ancient Gujarati inscriptions. However none of this is what would attract a tourist like me when compare to the scenic panoramic view of the entire valley that the terrace on this peak offers. One cannot help marvel at nature’s beauty when you look at lush green hill slopes while a cool breeze rushes through your face. We had hired a chirpy guy as guide from the base for about 200 bucks. He accompanied us to the top, told stories, history and significance of the location and other details about the hill-town as a whole.
Nakki Lake and Toad Rock – After the sunset we returned to the central area and headed to one of the best places to spend an evening - the Nakki Lake. It is only artificial lake in India built at 1200 meters above sea level. Famed to be dug using nails, is provides a location to spend quality leisure time on the sides over local snacks and drinks. We also took a boat ride around the village and enjoyed straddling amidst water under moon light. The romance one witnesses is inherent in the adage which says that the lake was dug by a sage as a condition for marriage to his love. True or not, one definitely cannot deny the absolutely romantic location that the lake is and is therefore aptly called love-lake of Mount Abu. From the lazy boating experience through the lake, one can see the rock structure on the adjoining peaks which resembles that of a toad and has come to be known as Toad Rock. One could even say that this rock has become mascot of the hill station enjoying the same status that Golden Gate Bridge enjoys in San Francisco.
The road leading to the lake is also the shopping arcade for tourists with all local, as they call it, souvenirs on sale. Though there may not be anything which isn’t available at your place, one is still tempted to pick some memories for folks back home. The road also is flushed with eateries of all kinds – fast food, ice-creams, diners and dhabas. Pick your choice and do not leave until your heart and stomach both shout content. We had our dinner at one of the restaurants around the corner, which needed about half an hour wait, and the proceeded towards our rest house. Next morning had an early yet relaxed start. We were up by 7 and set our chairs in the lawns relishing the beauty of morning scenery and freshness of cool breeze over tea. Strolling through the well cultivated flower gallery and maintained garden was amazing.
Those couple of hours we spent their relaxing in midst of nature were one of the high points of the visit. After a breakfast of aaloo-parathas (stuff bread) made by the caretaker-cum-cook, we continued on our excursion.
Adhar Devi Temple – This was our first destination of the day as we wanted to wrap up the treacherous hike uphill across over 340 steps in the coolness of morning breeze. The temple situated at the top of the hill is cleaved within a natural cave and is accessible thorough a low roofed path within the cave. The temple, also called Arbuda Devi Temple, is devoted to Goddess Durga and gets its name from adage that says the picture of the Goddess was found hanging in air without any support. Along with religious significance, the views that the top provides is an incentive in itself to climb up the stairs.
Achal Garh – Short for Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple, this is over 2500 old temple with peculiarity in fact that is only temple where foot-thumb of Lord Shiva is worshipped. There is a huge pond nearby which is believed to be filled with ghee during ancient times. There are numerous adages attached with this location and local guides (usually small children) recite these stories with their own flavor of poems and embellishments.
Pandav Bhavan – This was our next stop where we were exposed to doses of philosophy and truth of life. This is the local headquarters for the spiritual sect called BrahmaKumaris. The building houses numerous meditation rooms and conference rooms where lectures are imparted. Honey Moon Point – This was the last point we covered while returning back to our rest-house. This is another view point which provides great views across the valley. Post this, we took a relaxed lunch and returned to pack our bags for the return journey.
PS: I had documented my experiences of visit to Mount Abu at - In the lap of Aravallis - Mount Abu - when I visited the hill station during childhood. Please do visit the page if you would like to look at how I have changed as a blogger and traveler over the years.