The lure of Mount Abu

Last Updated 03 May 2014, 09:24 IST
Even as the summer was setting in, we were traversing northwestern India and had just entered the state of Rajasthan in a race against time. 

But the first of our destinations was a cool hill station in the hot belt of the desert country.

Mount Abu, nestled in the Aravalli range of hills at a height of about 5,000 feet above sea level, has all the ingredients of a hilly retreat. 

Rocky mountains, ravines, forests and a pleasant lake. 
The 27-km drive from Abu Road to the top of the hill during the night ensured we escaped the onslaught of the sun. 

Rejuvenated by a good night’s rest, we were raring to go in the morning. 

The best way of getting around in Abu is driving, as the sights and spots are well spread. We started off with a visit to the Shankar Math, which is close to the town. 

It is a Shiva temple and the highlight of the place is the gigantic linga in its premises. Built in reddish-pink stone, the green foliage and the blue background of the sky made it look more colourful. 

The drive went up a gradient to the foot of a hill with a shrine dedicated to Goddess Adhardevi.

The other name of the deity, Arbuda Devi, is what the town has been named after. 

Achalgarh, at 11 km further up the mountain, is a high point with an ancient fort and a legendary temple. 

The fort, said to have been built by the Mewar king Maharana Khumbha, is in ruins except for a bastion or two. 

The shrine of Achal Mahadev is interesting enough with an image of Nandi sculpted in brass. 

According to legend, our guide explained, the tank here was full of ghee for the rituals. 

But three demons came in the form of buffaloes to pollute the tank, but were cursed to become stones. 

Though there was no trace of ghee now, we did see the three buffaloes frozen in stone.

The path to the summit of the hill passed through a densely wooded forest. 

In fact, this area is part of the Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1960.

The wildlife here consists of bears, wild boars and hares, apart from many species of snakes and birds.

Leopards seem to be the only predators prowling around these hills. A view point on the way has been the location for many Bollywood films. 

At the highest point of the hill called Gurushikhar is a small shrine. The view of the entire range of Aravalli Hills can be savoured from here. 

On the way back, we stopped by the Universal Peace Hall of Brahmakumaris’ spiritual university, a sprawling  auditorium built without pillars.

More interesting sights were covered in the post-lunch session. The Dilwara group of temples, famed for sculptural magnificence, was the first on our way.
Built by one Vaastupal Tejpal somewhere in the 11th century, the five temples built for Jain theerthanakaras are endowed with fine carvings and sculptures as is evident in every pillar, doorway and ceiling. 

However, the imprint of the images on the mind was all we could carry back, as photography is strictly prohibited.

As the evening drew closer, it was time to make it to the sunset point. With viewing platforms at various levels, a large number of visitors gather here to watch the sunset. 

The last spot was indeed the best of Mount Abu, the Nakki Lake. 

A large water body surrounded by moderate hills and the mall, this is where  romantic evenings can be spent taking a boat ride, a horse ride or just a stroll around the lake. 

The Toad Rock, a curious rock formation resembling a frog about to leap, reminded us of the Frog Hill in Ooty.

A charming hill station with salubrious climate, Mount Abu was, for sure, a delightful escape from the heat of summer.

(Published 26 April 2014, 17:36 IST)

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