The only hill station in North – Western India, Mount Abu is truly the oasis in the hills. Lush green forests with beautiful granite peaks of the Aravalli flaunting a cornucopia of pristine flora and fauna compliments the cool and soothing ambiance of the hill station. The serene natural beauty and the architecture marvels of the Dilwara Jain Temples make it a must visit place in any tourists itinerary. And if you are coming from the desert, get ready for a pleasant surprise.
10th October 2013
After my visit to Jaisalmer, I arrived in back in Jodhpur to catch the next train to Abu Road. I reached the station just 10 minute before my next train. What I saw in the station really surprised me. There was a passenger train which was so crowded that people where sitting on the roofs. If I had time, I’d have gotten on to the roof of that train and taken a ride to the next station, just for an experience. But unfortunately, my train arrived at the next platform. “Some other time”, I sighed as I boarded the Jammu Tawi – Ahmadabad Express. The train departed at 6:30 am and I could see the sun rise in the backdrop of the rugged Rajasthani terrain. May be I was tired, I could feel my eye lids getting heavier. After a short nap, I reached Abu Road railway station at 10:45 am. I was expecting a big station as it is the closest station to Mt.Abu. Well, I was disappointed to see a small and poorly maintained station. First thing I searched for was a tourist information and I was disheartened yet again. I couldn’t get any information from the Police aid post and they were very hostile. So, I decided to try my luck outside the station. I found share taxis calling out for Mt. Abu. I boarded a jeep and waited till it was full. It was jam-packed and luckily, I got myself a comparatively better seat in the front.
The 1 hour journey was all uphill and the twists and turns provided a really amazing view. I must say, it reminded me of the road to Ooty in Tamil Nadu. The cool breeze was a refreshing change from the hot desert whiffs that I endured for the last 2 days. After some walking around I found a room in Hotel Kapil for Rs.350. It was OK, but not so great. I’ve stayed in better rooms for cheaper rates. I should have searched a little more for a better room. But since it’s just 1 night, I decided to go with it. After talking to the hotel owner I realized that the public transport system is really poor in Mt.Abu and most of the tourist spots are spread around a 20km radius. So, I decided to hire a motor bike and I saw a number of bike for hire shops. I rented a Honda Twister for Rs.250 and filled it with Rs.100 worth of petrol. It’s just over a liter, but I’m hoping it should get me at least 60km. After a Gujrati lunch, I set out to explore the Oasis in the Hills.
First stop – the famous Dilwara Jain Temple. I had learned about this place and its architectural grandeur in the History classes in school. But I must say, the text failed to do justice to this marvelous creation. The intricately carved white marble that adorned the temple walls, the ornate doorways and ceilings would captivate and impress even the cold-hearted. They are simply majestic and I did spend a lot of time enjoying the hard work and craftsmanship of the temple architects. The only issue is that they don’t allow camera or mobile into the temple complex. I would’ve taken at least a 100 images if they had permitted me. Nonetheless, I bought a tourist book that contained some good photos of the temple. If you ask me, I’d say its worth visiting Mt.Abu just for the Dilwara Temples.
I next went to Guru Shikar – the highest point in Rajasthan. It’s just 1220m above MSL, but to Rajasthani standards, it’s quite high. However the view it offers is splendid and breathtaking. The most importantly, everything around you looks green and not the sandy yellow of the desert. This place offers a stunning 360 degree view of the valley below and the cool air currents rejuvenated my spirits. By the way, I could see only bikes or taxis at the parking, which means that had I not rented one,I wouldn’t have reached here. Oh yeah, and there’s a temple there. On the way down through the poorly maintained road, I saw a few small waterfalls too. And all the way down, I had put my bike in neutral and let gravity do its thing – fuel saving, you know. On the way down I visited the Peace Park. It’s a beautiful garden that’s surprisingly silent and peaceful. I don’t know whats wrong with the people here – NO photography! Again!!
I then went to Achal Garh. Frankly I had no idea what that was till I got there. It was an old fort and a temple. It had a very deserted feel and on climbing up the stairs, I had an eerie feeling. The background music was some hymns from the temple and all I saw around me were a few villagers moving around with their day-to-day life. It was almost sunset and I could see that it was getting dark under the tree canopy and cute monkeys were jumping round. I went to the temple and even though it was closed, the security allowed me to go around it. No Photography yet again!! It too was a small but beautiful marble temple. But later I realised that the main temple is still further up – the Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple. It was a small temple and had statue of Nandi and 3 stone buffaloes.
I wanted to visit the sunset point, but I guess I was too late. Half way through I watched the golden sun go behind the pinnacle of a granite peak. It was as good as any sunset point, in my opinion. My last stop on the road was Adhar Devi Temple. Stairs again! I climbed the 360 odd steep steps in less than 10 minutes and I nearly ran out of breath. It was a small cave temple dedicated to Goddess Durga.
Back in Mt.Abu town, I went to the Nakki Lake in the middle of the town. I should’ve visited it earlier but it doesn’t matter. I could see the silhouette of the famous toad rock to the south of the lake. I just walked around the lake for a while and sat down looking at the dark lake with the reflection of the city lights, recharging myself. Time to call it a day. I returned the bike and then walked into the bazaar. 10 minutes later I realized that I was lost and I was walking in circles. Finally, I figured out the way myself and walked to the hotel after a Punjabi dinner. I had half more day in Mt.Abu, but I decided to cut it short and head to Udaipur the next morning. By 8:30pm I was back in my room and the cool climate made me jump on to the bed.
Tomorrow, I’m going to Udaipur. But how?