By Chandra Mohan
Mount Abu is a hill resort, one of the best in India, but, more importantly, it serves as a sort of oasis amid the desert climate of Rajasthan. It is situated at 1722 metres above sea level and understandably, this comfort zone, within the lush green Aravalli range, is the only hill resort of the state.
Mount Abu is located on a high rocky plateau and this city experiences colder climates and offers pretty amazing sceneries. Well connected to other parts of the country, this city has been a popular tourist destination for various adventures and sightseeing.
Located on the beautiful Aravalli Plateau, the city of Mount Abu is adorned by lush green forests and loaded with pristine beauty of lakes, architecture of temples and heritage of ancient forts and havelis. Exhibiting the best royalty of bygone times, this city is home to numerous marvels loaded with artistic features and picture worthy craftsmanship. Amid this enchanting surroundings, the life here is very calm and the locals are friendly as well.
Home to various enticing landmarks, Mount Abu city has been exciting its visitors and tourists since ages. Be it the reflection of the starry sky on the Nakki Lake or the flawless ornamental carvings of Dilwara Jain Temple, here you will find some of the best sceneries which will soothe our eyes as well as souls. Here, you will find various serene spots like the Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary, Peace Park, Guru Shikhar Peak, Sunset Point, Abu Road, Trevour’s Tank Toad Rock and many more.
Haven for adrenaline junkies, the city of Mount Abu has been blessed with beautiful surroundings as well as a plethora of adventures. Attracting flocks of tourists, one can try his hand at a number of adventures here. From camping below the starry nights to rowing the boat in Nakki Lake, Mount Abu is bestowed with some of the best adrenaline-rush activities.
The climate of Mount Abu remains comparatively cooler than the other parts of the state. Being a state of Rajasthan, Mount Abu also experiences some hot days even though it is a hill station. The average annual temperature here stays around 20 degree Celsius and can fluctuate with change in the seasons.
Studded with a colourful mix of rustic abodes of tribal communities and posh houses inclusive of British style bungalows and royal holiday lodges, Mount Abu appears to be no less than a wonder in this desert state. Covered in vast stretches of green forests, serene lakes, and effusive waterfalls, this region allows you to revel amidst panoramic vistas, all year round.
Other than its scenic beauty, Mount Abu is also popular as a seat of religious importance for Jains. The structural architectural wonders in Mount Abu, among other places to visit, have been drawing history buffs and architecture enthusiasts from different corners of the world.
Almost all tour packages, including those by Rajasthan Tourism have Mount Abu as one of the most significant destinations to be covered.
Achalgarh Fort is one of the more attractive places which were built by Parmar kings. Dilwara temple built by Mahipala Soalanki .
Myths and legends
The history of Mount Abu can be traced back to the Puranas. Known as “Arbudaranya” or “the forest of Arbhuda” in the Puranic Age, Mount Abu is described to have served as a retreat for Sage Vashistha, following his spur with Sage Vishwamitra.
A popular mythology story associated with Mount Abu mentions a serpent named Arbhuda, who had saved the life of Nandi, Lord Shiva’s mount, here. The name “Mount Abu” is a diminutive of its original name which was kept after Arbhuda.
According to a legend, sage Vashistha performed a great yajna at the peak of Mount Abu, to seek from the gods a provision for the defence of righteousness on earth. In answer to his prayer, a youth arose from the Agnikunda, the first Agnivansha.
Another legend suggests that Sage Vashistha had performed a yajna at the peak of this very mountain range, seeking provision for the defence of righteousness on earth, from the Gods. His prayer was answered by a youth who sprang out of the yajna fire, known to be the first of the Agnivamsha Rajputs.
HOW TO REACH HERE
Mount Abu does not have an airport of its own and the closest airport is the Maharana Pratap Airport in Dabok, Udaipur, located at a distance of 176 kilometres from Mount Abu.
Good motorable roads connect Mount Abu to other cities of Ajmer, Bundi, and Delhi. People can either drive themselves or take one of the buses offered by the state transport service. You can also consider one of the private bus services when planning a trip to Mount Abu.
The railway station at Mount Abu is located at a distance of 28 kilometres from the city. This railway station lies on the connecting rail line between Delhi and Mumbai. Mount Abu is also connected to other major cities such as Jaipur, Pune, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, and Chennai.
Interesting Places To Visit In Mount Abu
Dilwara Jain Temples: These Jain temples boast of giddying levels of marble-work and carving making this a must-visit whether you’re religious or not.
Vimal Vasahi is one of the older temples that took nearly a decade and a half to build, starting around 1031. It is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankar (revered teacher). The 52 Buddha statues here are a joy to behold and so are the 48 carved pillars at the entrance. The House of Elephants just outside the entrance is a procession of these majestic creatures leading up to the temple.
Next in line is the Luna Vasahi Temple erected in 1230. This temple is the crowning jewel of this complex with the pillars and walls so intricately carved; it is sometimes unimaginable that all these structures were created out of blocks of stone. The marble, at some places, appears transparent because of the minute chisel work. The main attraction is a multi-layered marble lotus hanging from the centre of the dome that looks as if it were made out of icing.
The other three temples are: The three storied Khartar Vasahi; Mahaveerswami with its painted elephants; and Bhamashah Pittalhar that houses a five metal 4-tonne statue of Adinath.
The Dilwara Jain temples are about an hour away from the main town. You can either share a taxi or take a leisurely stroll out to the complex.
Famous for: Photography, Nature, Viewpoint, Trekking.
Tickets: No entry fee.
Opening Timings: Open all days (8am – 6:30 pm).
Duration: 1-2 hours.
Things to Do near Guru Shikhar
-Visit the nearby Peace Park en route.
-Go to the Thrill Zone Adventure Park.
-Trekking and Hiking
Mt Abu Wildlife Sanctuary: A nature lover’s plateau
Around 6km from Mt Abu is a wildlife sanctuary spread over 290 sq.km. it is home to leopards, wild boars, crocodiles, sambars, foxes and bears. Birdwatchers will have a great time here as the Mt Abu Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect destination to spot over 250 different species of birds. Spread out on a narrow strip of a plateau, this is by far the most topographically unique sanctuary in Rajasthan.
While the park is covered with over 100 different plant species, keep an eye out for rows of orchids, roses and bamboo trees that really add to the natural aesthetic.
The Mt Abu Wildlife Sanctuary is around an hour’s drive from the main town, and the most picturesque of places to visit in Mt Abu.
Situated within the sanctuary is the Aravalli and Rajasthan’s highest point- Guru Shikhar. Besides being an important pilgrim spot, the peak also offers unparalleled vistas of Mt Abu. The Atri Rishi Temple is at the summit (1772m) and draws as many tourists as it does pilgrims.
If you’re looking for a natural hotspot not too far from town, head over to Trevor’s Tank. This is a crocodile breeding zone 5 km from town and doubles up as a popular excursion spot. Don’t worry, the crocodiles are segregated from the rest of the park. You can even spot black bears here and this is the perfect spot for a day picnic.
Shantivan (Forest of Peace)
Six kilometres from Abu Road on the road to Mount Abu, on your left you can see a magnificent complex known as Shantivan. Built to accommodate the ever-growing Brahma Kumaris community and its spiritual activities, the complex provides a spacious venue for conferences, spiritual congregations and educational and other retreats.
The main attraction of Shantivan is the massive Diamond Hall, built in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the institution in 1996. The simple yet elegant structure, which notably has no pillars inside, can accommodate about 20,000 people.
Shantivan has another large hall, the Conference Hall, which can seat 1,200 people and has facilities for simultaneous translation in six languages. Besides, there are six smaller halls, each of which can accommodate 350 people for lectures, seminars and workshops. There are also two halls for mediation, and a spiritual museum. The residential buildings in the complex can house about 15,000 people.
Famous for: History, Viewpoints, Ruins.
Tickets: No entry fee.
Opening Timings: Open all days (5am – 7pm).
Duration: 45 min.
The name refers to a fort and an ancient kingdom, which was originally built by the Paramara Dynasty rulers. The fort was reconstructed in 1452 by Maharana Kumbha the ruler of the Mewar kingdom and was renamed as ‘Achalgarh‘ or the immovable. The fort however stands in ruins to this day, leaving behind many remnants which make this place a tourist attraction. The main entrances are characterized by two towers carved out of grey granite, which still stand as a memorial of this once pompous and majestic fort. The fort walls and the amazing location give an amazing panoramic view of the surroundings.
Things to Do around Achalgarh
-Visit the Jain Temples in the fort.
-Shop for souvenirs in the nearby markets.
-Pay a visit to Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple nearby.
One of the most popular attractions in Mount Abu, Nakki Lake is an ancient and sacred lake. According to Hindu mythology the lake was dug out by the Gods by simply using their nails to gain shelter from the Demon Banshkhali, however many such mythological stories exist leading to the creation of this lake. Nevertheless, the place is a great spot for picnic with friends and family alike.
The lake is also famous as Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were immersed here leading to the construction of Gandhi Ghat, which is also a popular monument located here. There are plenty of hotels, restaurants and eateries located near the lake which offer some great local food at really cheap prices. The fountains in the lake add to its natural beauty.
Recognized as the first ever man-made lake in India, Nakki Lake is also a preferred place to see Mount Abu. You can choose to take a boat ride at the lake and watch the sun set past the beautiful hills surrounding this place. Nakki Lake is also popular for being the place where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi had been immersed. Toad rock, a place for sightseeing in Mount Abu is located close to Nakki Lake.
Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple
Famous for its natural occurring Shiva Linga, Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple is one of the oldest temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in Rajasthan. A subject of many legends and tales, this fort is situated near Achal Fort and was built around the second century. Recent restoration works have restored this architectural marvel into its former glory. The temple is said to have a foot impression of Lord Shiva himself and also has a brass Nandi and 3 sculptures of buffalos near the pond.
Famous for: Architecture, Pilgrimage.
Tickets: No entry fee.
Opening Timings: Open all days.
Duration: 60 mins.
Located south of Nakki Lake in Mount Abu, the Toad Rock is a colossal rock piece which looks like a toad about to jump into the waters of the lake. Known as the mascot of Mount Abu, this is one of the most frequented points in the itinerary of all visitors. To see the panoramic beauty of the surrounding lake and greenish hilly regions you can climb up the rock and capture the breathtaking scenery.
The path to Toad Rock starts near Nakki Lake and includes climbing 250 steps to the top. The pathway is nestled in lush greenery which makes for a calming walk, though some people might find it intimidating. The staircase is broken in parts, so the climb is not recommended for old people and toddlers.
Where to stay
Rising Sun Retreat : starting price @ Rs 2050
Set within landscaped gardens, this tranquil resort is 3 km from Nakki Lake and 4 km from the elaborately carved Dilwara Temples.
Unfussy rooms & bungalows in a tranquil resort featuring night safaris & rock climbing trips.
Casa De Mount: Starting price @ Rs 2999
Located within 1.9 km of Mount Ābu and 2.5 km of Delmāra, Casa De Mount provides rooms with air conditioning and a private bathroom in Mount Ābu. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi. The hotel features family rooms.