Exploring Mount Abu – The Oasis in Rajasthan, India
January 1, 1970
by Shiney Ignatius
Mount Abu is a popular hill station at an altitude of 1220 meters above the sea level near the Gujarat border of Rajasthan, part of Aravalli Range. The cool climate, lush green forest cover and easy access to the hill station make it a hot tourist destination.
In the early morning of 14-Dec, I started off in a rented car from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. I started early to cover 235 Kms. to reach Abu Road station. Other options are Volvo bus or train to Abu Road station and then travel another 40 Kms journey by road to Mt Abu. If you are traveling from Ahmedabad then the car is the best choice. Those who are traveling from a city like Delhi or Mumbai in India, you may reach Ahmedabad by flight or by train and then proceed to Mount Abu.In about 3.5 hours I reached Abu Road railway station, and little ahead from there started the meandering hilly ascend to Mt Abu. The mountain range was covered with dense forests.
Finally, I reached the Hotel Silver Oak, which is close to the bus terminus. The air was thinner than it was on the plane which I left barely 45 minutes ago. There are many good hotels in Mount Abu and you may choose one according to your budget and taste. Try to stay near the bus terminus for easy access to all places of sightseeing.
Dilwara Jain Temple
I went to the first destination, Dilwara Jain Temple, in the late afternoon. Like most of other temples cameras and cell phones are not allowed inside. Leather items like shoes need to be left outside the main entrance of the temple. It was huge and magnificent structure. The carvings on the white marble were intricate and exquisite. Marble carvings were everywhere, even on the ceiling of the corridors.
Arbuda Devi Temple
The next stop was Arbuda Devi Temple. You will find bronze bells of all sizes, small to very large, hung at places of the steep ascent to the peak where the cave temple is situated.
The view on both sides of the flight of stairs was beautiful. There were red and white bougainvillea, various shrubs and trees which clutched onto the large chunks of rocks at the left side of the steps and unforgiving steep slope at the other. I was trying to soak in as much nature’s beauty as I could and fill my lungs with fresh air. After reaching the main corridor one has to crawl through a short tunnel to enter the cave. The idol of the deity is inside the cave. The priest gave me flowers from the offering plate and blessed me. The climb downhill was much easier but I walked carefully as the rise between steps was high. It was a sort of feat for me as I climbed up and down 365 steps each way.
When I reached close to Sunset Point it was almost five. The evening sun was mellow and the wind caught the chill. I braced myself for another steep climb as I saw a large number of people moving up the mountain to catch glimpse of the sunset. There were human pulled carts to carry those who were unable to climb by themselves. I followed the crowd without wasting time.
I reached the peak and perched on the stone. People in colorful winter gear were enjoying tea, roasted corn and other snacks sold by hawkers. I bought some tea myself and waited patiently for the sun to set.
My patience was well rewarded. The sun expressed itself in many hues. It painted the evening sky in all shades of yellow, amber and purple and finally hid below the horizon among cheers of hundreds of spectators. The temperature dropped by several degrees within few minutes. It became dark all of a sudden. I stopped briefly at the Nakki Lake and then returned to the hotel.
There are various eating options available in Mount Abu. Restaurants serving Rajasthani or Gujarati Thalis are the best choice for a sumptuous meal. Almost all restaurants are pure vegetarian.
Shankar Math Temple
The next morning I had breakfast at our hotel room and started by 11 AM. First, I visited Shankar Math Temple. It is a quiet temple with a beautiful adjoining garden. There was a huge replica of the Shiva Lingam on the top of the temple.The sun was shining brightly. There was no trace of the chill that made us shiver in the last evening through the night.
Our next stop was Guru Shikhar. 15 kilometers from Mount Abu and 1730 meters above the sea level, Guru Shikhar is the highest peak of the Aravalli range.After leaving the car at the parking, I started to climb the steps. The air was thinner than it was on the plain. I took rest at each landing between two flights of stairs and absorbed the scenic beauty of the mountain range.
I reached the Dattatreya Temple at the top. I saw idol of Dattatreya Swami and imbibed the atmosphere of peace and serenity for few moments. It was pure bliss.
Achaleshwar Shiva Temple
While returning from Guru Shikhar I went to Achalgarh. There are two temples in Achalgarh, one is Achaleshwar Shiva Temple and the other is a Jain temple. The Shiva temple is built in white marble. The carvings on the marble are as beautiful as other temples in the Mount Abu. There is a large brass idol of Nandi, the mount of Lord Shiva, in the corridor after the main entrance of the temple. Beautiful marble structures are found inside the temple. Photography is allowed inside this temple for a nominal charge. So, I spent some time there trying capturing memory in frames.
Shantinath Jain Temple
Shantinath Jain Temple is within a hundred meters of the Shiva temple. I walked up the long marble staircase leading to the entrance of the temple. The calm atmosphere of the shrine soothed my soul.
My tour to Mount Abu ended. I started my journey back to Ahmedabad. If you are interested in visiting the famous Ambaji Temple at Banaskantha, you may go there on your way back to Ahmedabad. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peetha where, according to Hindu Mythology, the Heart of the Sati Devi had fallen. My visit to Mount Abu was truly memorable. I would definitely recommend Mount Abu as a refreshing weekend gateway.