A Journey to Mount Abu – The Oasis of Rajasthan

A mesmerizing rail journey from Kolhapur to Mt. Abu, Rajasthan with my family, where I saw and experienced possibly the most beautiful, colorful and serene side of India.

Mount Abu is a popular hill station in the Aravalli Range in Sirohi district of Rajasthan state in western India near the border with Gujarat. The mountain forms a distinct rocky plateau 22 km long by 9 km wide. It is referred to as ‘an oasis in the desert’ as its heights are home to rivers, lakes, waterfalls and evergreen forests. There is a mythology according to which a serpent named “Arbuda” saved the life of Nandi – Lord Shiva’s bull. The incident happened on the mountain which is currently known as Mount Abu and so the mountain is named “Arbudaranya” after that incident which gradually became Abu.I suppose, if you are on your honeymoon, even a garden shed might feel like paradise. But Mount Abu, in the state of Rajasthan in Northwest India, has some special attributes which a garden shed is rather unlikely to have. Mount Abu has got something to offer to non-honeymooners as well. Although it offers something for everyone, the one thing it does not boast of is deafening disco music or all-night ear-splitting raves.

A 1 hr. 31 km road trip after reaching Abu road takes you to the Nakki lake. It is a very ancient sacred Lake, according to the Hindu legend. It is called by this name because it was dug out from Nails. The lake is in length of about a half mile and in width about of a quarter of mile and 20 to 30 ft. deep towards the dam on the west. There are two ways to go up and down the rock; to climb the rocky hill side or to use the steps leading down to Nakki Lake. On the lake itself you can go for a boat ride. Or relax in the lakeside park and let your mind off the leash. Gaze in wonderment at the natural phenomenon of Toad Rock, which, as the name suggests, looks just like a toad. By the side of the lake there is a path leading to Sunset Point. It is forbidden to climb to Sunset Point due to dangerous bandits living around the path to Sunset Point. Quite suddenly, as you approach Sunset Point, there are people everywhere. The experience is probably akin to that of Wordsworth, “When all at once he saw a host of golden daffodils,” (after wandering lonely as a cloud). Being on my own and unhampered by any luggage, I climbed up to a vantage point to watch the famous sunset. Returning to Abu Road by a rickshaw flaunting some Rajasthani folk music lures the tired mind.

Abu Road and adjoining streets serve as a great shopping arena where you get to see a wide range of products. You see everyone cuddled in their shawls and mufflers in the shivering winter days.

Next day we headed to the world famous Dilwara temple. The beauty of these temples cannot be explained in words. They are located about 2½ kms from Mount Abu. These Jain temples were built by Vastapul Tejpal , a Jain laymen between the 11th and 13th centuries AD and are world-famous for their stunning use of marble. The five legendary marble temples of Dilwara are a sacred pilgrimage place of the Jains. Some consider them to be one of the most beautiful Jain pilgrimage sites in the world. The marble temples have an opulent entrance, the simplicity in architecture reflecting Jain values like honesty and frugality. The temples are in the midst of a range of forested hills. A high wall shrouds the temple complex. Although the Jains built some beautiful temples at other places in Rajasthan, some believe that none come close to these in terms of architectural perfection. The ornamental detail spreading over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels is simply marvelous. Facilities are available for bathing, which is mandatory before puja is performed for the idols. These facilities use passive solar power to heat up the water for bathing and other things. Guided tour hours for tourists are posted outside the temple. Among all the five legendary marble temples of Dilwara, the most famous of those are the Vimal Vasahi and the Luna Vasahi temples. Arbuda(Adhar) devi temple is yet another astonishing place a few km. distance from Dilwara temple. Situated in a cave, The Adhar Devi Temple is one of the popular religious themed tourist destinations.

The Adhar Devi Temple is reached by climbing up 365 stairs carved into the mountain. The temple itself is located inside a rocky cleave and is reached by crawling through a small opening into the cave.The Adhar Devi Temple is dedicated to the Goddess Durga. It got its name because the legend has it that “Adhar” of the Mataji (Goddess deity) fell here also it was believed that the image of the goddess could be found there hanging in midair. As well as being a popular tourist destination, the Adhar Devi Temple is also a common destination, for many religion pilgrimages. The Adhar Devi temple receives most pilgrims during the 9 days of the holy Navratri season. The Adhar Devi temple contains many beautiful statues, and those that make the effort to climb the stairs are rewarded with many picturesque views of the surrounding mountains and forests. This walk should not turn you off as the scenic views surrounding the temple and the wondrous beauty inside make this climb worth the effort.

An approximate 1.5km drive takes you to the Crocodile & Wildlife Sanctuary i.e. Trevor’s Tank. Trevor’s Tank is a picturesque location and a nature lover’s paradise that is named after the British engineer Trevor who built it. A visit to Trevor’s Tank offers picturesque scenery and a multitude of views. If you visit Trevor’s tank, you should pack a picnic. It is a popular picnic destination for tourists and locals alike. Trevor’s Tank contains many purpose built viewing stations that offer you the unique opportunity to watch the plentiful wildlife in their natural habitat. This is a very popular night time activity. If you visit Trevor’s Tank during the right season, and you are very quiet, you may be lucky enough to spot one of the wild black bears that inhabit the region. Birdwatchers from throughout the world flock to Trevor’s Tank because it is a dream location and there are a lot of bird species. If you spend long enough there you could spot pigeons, peacocks and partridges, amongst the rich hills and thick forest.

Early next morning, I headed to the marvelous Gurushikhar. Gurushikhar holds the honor of being not only the highest peak of Mount Abu but the whole of Aravali mountain range, Situated at a height of 1722 meters from the sea-level, Gurushikar provides a breathtaking panoramic view of Mount Abu town and green aravali range.If you are traveling through the beautiful Mount Abu region in Rajasthan, you should ensure that you pay a visit to Guru Shikhar for postcard picture quality views of the town of Mount Abu and the Aravali Range, Guru Shikhar is also home to many beautiful and historic temples.Coming to the peak of Guru Shikhar, you must make sure that you visit the temple of Guru Dattatreya. Many Hindus in the Western Indian regions believed that Dattatreya is a God. They believe that Dattatreya is an incarnation of the Divine Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. To get to the peak of Guru Shikhar, you need to travel the approximately 7km long Delwara AchalGarh road. It you are already traveling through the Mount Abu region, this is a very short trip to see the panoramic views offered of both the town and the lush green Aravali Range. A visit to Guru Shikhar also gives you the ability to enjoy a visit to the historic temples and shrines. A 4 km ride to Achalgarh is full of nature’s kaleidoscope with a varied range of astonishing colours.

The Achleshwar temple is famous for containing a Nandi, which is said to be made of 5 metals, fold, silver, copper, brass and zinc. The Nandi is made up of Panchadhattu and weighs more than 4 tonnes.It is believed that the Achleshwar temple was built in the 9th century and legend has it that it was built around a toe print of Lord Shiva. For the last three days, I went to Bramha-Kumaris headquarters which is a worldwide spiritual movement dedicated to personal transformation and world renewal. Founded in India in 1937, ‘Brahma -Kumaris’ has spread to over 110 countries on all continents and has had an extensive impact in many sectors as an international NGO. A visit to this place helps one to introspect one’s self in the context of very unique viewpoints regarding life and how to tackle most of the silliest problems we stuck upon. At the base of Mount Abu , lays to the left of the road , a magnificent complex which has a excellent venue for holding large conferences , spiritual congregations and retreats. The majestic Diamond hall here holds a Guiness world record as it is able to occupy 20,000 folks at once! In addition to this Shantivan has the largest parabolic solar device in India.

With a satisfied soul, return journey begins with lots of typical Indian railway experiences that fills the mind with a colorful, peaceful and silent vibes.

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