Mount Abu Heaven of peace
A serene, picturesque resort nestling on the southern tip of the Aravalli hills, Mount Abu is a verdant oasis in the barren deserts cape of Rajasthan. The road to Mount Abu winds through arid regions, dotted with massive, weirdly shaped rocks whipped by high-speed winds. The town is more than just a summer retreat. It is Rajasthan’s only hill station, and its exquisite Dilwara Jain temples make it a special pilgrimage centre for Jains, Hindus and other visitors.
Abu, according to a popular legend, stands for the son of Himalaya. The place derives its name from Arbuada, the powerful serpent that rescued Lord Shiva’s sacred bull from a bottomless chasm. For centuries, Mount Abu has been home to many sages and saints. The most famous of these was Vashishtha who offered yajna (fire sacrifice) to the gods to protect the earth from the vicious threats of marauding demons. Since it was performed besides a natural spring emerging from a rock shaped like a cow’s head, the site below Abu is called Gaumukh.
Mount Abu has limitless visual treasures and offers boundless spiritual solace to visiting Jain devotees. It also supplies a haven of immeasurable peace to harried tourists fleeing from the oppressive heat of the plains or seeking a brief respite from their daily grind. The magnificent Dilwara temples are situated about a kilometre from the town.
MOUNT ABU IS A HEAVEN OF PEACE FOR TOURISTS FLEEING FROM THE OPPRESSIVE HEAT OF THE PLAINS OR SEEKING A BRIEF RESPITE FROM THEIR DAILY GRIND
The beautifully sculpted Dilwara Jain temples are aesthetic dreams cast in the purity of white marble. Dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras, they were built between the 11th and 13th centuries AD. The Vimal Vasahi temple is the oldest of these and is dedicated to the first Tirthankara, Lord Adinath. It was built in 1031 AD by Vimal Shah, a merchant representative of the Maharaja of Gujarat, and is a superb example of Rajasthani temple architecture. The central shrine has an image of Rishabhdev, and a large courtyard with 52 small shrines. Each of these houses an impressive statue of a Tirthankara. Forty-eight elegantly carved pillars form the entrance to the courtyard. The Lun Vasahi Temple in the same complex is dedicated to Neminath, the 22nd Tirthankara. Two brothers, named Vastupal and Tejpal, ministers in the court of Raja Vir Dhawal, a Jam ruler of Gujarat, constructed the temple during the 13th century. With its opulently carven door casings, majestic pillars, exquisite architraves and delicately executed porticoes, the temple is an amazing and magnificent architectural jewel.
THE DILWARA TEMPLES ARE AESTHETIC DREAMS CAST IN WHITE MARBLE. THEY WERE BUILT BETWEEN THE 11TH AND 13TH CENTURIES AD.
Gaumukh temple, a natural spring flowing through a cow’s head, hewn directly from the mountain, gives the shrine its name. Legend has it that the famous yajna of the sage Vashishtha was performed here. Very close by is a large, marble image of Nandi, the celestial bull. The 700-odd steps leading down to the shrine appear endless and can be very taxing on the way up. Another favorite tourist spot is the Adhar Devi temple, chiseled out of a single monolith. It is approached by a flight of 360 steps that has been carved along the hillside. Legend has itthat irrespective of religious persuasion, a fervent prayer voiced here unfailingly finds fulfillment. The Raghunathji temple, dedicated to Lord Raghunath, is situated on the banks of the incredibly beautiful Nakki lake, near the southern fringe of Mount Abu. Within the temple is an impressive image of the deity, installed by Shri Ramanand, the famous 14th century Hindu preacher and ascetic.
SUNSET POINT OFFERS A STUNNING VIEW OF THE SETTING SUN, WITH THE HILLS PAINTED GOLD BY THE WARM GLOW OF THE DYING ORB
Mount Abu has an abundance of scenic spots, and Sunset Point is a hot favorite. It offers a stunning view of the setting sun, with the hills painted gold by the warm glow of the dying orb. Watching sunset from here can be a deeply soul-satisfying experience. As the color of the sky changed from gold to red to blue and black, I wished I had the magical power to capture those moments.
A half hour drive away from Mount Abu is Achalgarh. It is an impressive 14th century fort with several beautiful Jain temples. The most noteworthy of these are the Achaleshwar Mahadev temple and the Kantinath Jain temple. The latter has several gold-plated images. About 15 km away is Guru Shikhar, the highest peak in the Aravalli range. It offers a breathtaking view of the sylvan surroundings of the hill station. A small Shaivite shrine and a temp le of Dattatreya are poised on its crest.
Its prime claim to fame is its quiet, ambience, healthy climate, scenic beauty and specially the warmth of its people.
How to reach Mount Abu?
By Air: The nearest airport is Maharana Pratap Airport, Dabok (Udaipur), 207 km away. One can hire a taxi to get to Mount Abu.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is Abu Road (29 km) situated on the Mumbai-Ahmadabad-Ajmer-Jaipur-Delhi route. From Abu Road one can take a taxi, jeep or bus to Mount Abu.
By Road: Ahmedabad is 222 km away, via Palanpur; Jodhpur is 235 km away, via Sirohi and Pali; Udaipur is 156 km away via Pidwara, Jaipur is 509 km away via Pali-Ajmer. Mount Abu is connected to all the major towns in Northern and Western India.
Local Transport: Taxis without meters are available for local transportation within the city. Fares should be fixed beforehand.