Mount Abu: An oasis in the desert state of Rajasthan, India.
January 1, 1970
Mount Abu is a tiny little hill station and the only hill station in the desert state of Rajasthan, India. Though small in size it proudly claims the peak of the Aravalli ranges (Guru Shikhar) it lies snuggled in. The Great Indian Desert or the Thar Desert sprawls out over a major portion of Rajasthan and Mount Abu provides a cool respite from the extreme temperatures, an oasis if you will.
Click on the link below to read more about the Thar:
I lived half my life in this place and fell in love with its hills and valleys, lakes and streams, date palms and pine trees and also with its pleasant summers and biting winters. Since winter is my favourite season I didn’t really mind when my toes turned blue and I couldn’t feel the tip of my nose as temperatures fell below 0 degrees and kept falling till around -5 or -7 degrees Celsius at times. The cold started in mid-November and lasted till the end of February during which time the town would be enveloped in thick fog, water bodies would form a thin layer of ice on the surface and pipes would sometimes burst as the water inside froze. Schools would close for a three month winter vacation during this time and people could be seen warming themselves in the feeble sunlight by day and exchanging tales around bonfires by night.
The peak seasons and major tourist attractions
Come Spring, the lazy town would come to life as schools reopened for the academic year, people returned from vacations with a little holiday weight and tourists from neighbouring states started thronging the place. Mount Abu’s major tourist attractions are its centrally located lake called Nakki Lake, the 13th century Jain Temple called the Dilwara Temple which was built and intricately carved almost entirely in marble, Guru Shikhar the highest peak in the Aravallis (5650 ft.) which gives you a bird’s eye view of the hills and valleys, Trevor’s Tank where you can watch crocodiles swimming or lazing around and the spiritual headquarters of the world renowned faith community Brahma Kumaris. It also has a wildlife sanctuary, a mountaineering institute and some great trekking trails. The British had built a few summer homes on the hill station which have now been turned into heritage hotels and resorts.
The link below lists a few more places of interest:
Summers are usually pleasant with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celsius during the day and dipping to around 20 degrees by night. Tourists maintain a steady stream during the summer months too as, unlike Mount Abu, all other places have summer vacations and people come to take a breather from the scorching Indian sun. Like most hill stations, Mount Abu also depends majorly on tourism and though the crowds make it uncomfortable at times for the residents they also bring bread to the table for most people which makes the little “summer circus” bearable.
Dew covered and refreshing
The monsoons are another sight to behold on this beautiful hill station. The torrential rains give rise to streams and waterfalls overnight. The lakes and dams overflow and the hillsides get covered in green velvet. The only road that connects Mount Abu to the world gets washed squeaky clean by the numerous waterfalls pouring down the hillsides. They are a treat to the tourists who stop midway to splash around in the cool water and have a snack while gazing out at the low lying clouds over the valley. For those who don’t like the ‘squishy wet toes’ feeling, September and October are the best months to visit Mount Abu when the rains have stopped, the scenery is picturesque and the cold is just starting to set in.
How to get there and what to look out for
The only way to reach Mount Abu is by road. Public transport is available from the closest town Abu Road which is located at the foothills. People travel by buses, jeeps, cars and even motorbikes. It is advisable to take public transport if you’re not sure of your driving skills as the 26km long winding, narrow road is a pretty steep climb and has blind corners and hairpin bends along the way. Being the only road up you may also have to squeeze past buses and trucks while keeping an eye on the hill on one side and the valley on the other. If you’re lucky you may get to see some wildlife along the way. The silver-backed langur monkeys are a common sight, besides them leopards, deer and black bears have been spotted strolling across the road casually to get to their water holes. The road is quite well maintained with cemented guardrails, reflectors and precautionary signs wherever needed.
Once you reach Mount Abu a small tourist fee is collected at the check post before you enter the town. The bus stand or the taxi stand, wherever you get off, will welcome you with a small yet persistent crowd of canvassers for hotels and sight-seeing tours. It is always better to book a decent hotel room online instead of letting the canvassers take you for a ride or having to put up at a dingy one in case you visit during the peak season when rooms sell out like hot cakes even at double the actual rates. Good hotels usually arrange for half-day or whole-day tours to the places mentioned earlier or you could rent a bike and roam around as you like. Two days are more than enough if you plan to check off ‘places visited’ on your list, but if you stay longer to take a break from the world and enjoy nature there is no saying when you would want to leave.
To sum up, Mount Abu is a quiet and laid back little place on the mountains where you can enjoy a nice holiday. Apart from the hustle bustle during the peak months, it is a place where one would like to retire and spend one’s days waking up to chirping birds and whistling winds. Growing up on a hill station brings you so close to nature that your soul can never really find peace in a crowded concrete jungle, it will only be at rest when you stand on a hill top with arms outstretched and take in a lung full of the fresh mountain air again.