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Mount Abu: To Experience Serenity

''Doesn’t seem a part of Rajasthan owing to its lush green surroundings and salubrious weather''

LOCATION : A hill station in the state of Rajasthan.

WHY GO THE DISTANCE : It’s spell-binding to see how a whole town has been set up atop a mountain that has a large area in the form of a flatland. Tourists in large numbers throng this place every year to admire its history, architecture and amazing flora and fauna. But, what has kept the beauty and serenity preserved of this town is the state government’s move a few years ago to ban new construction, both commercial and residential, on the hill.

Driving on Mount Abu roads is quite comfortable compared with other busy hill stations in India except for a few patches where the roads are way too narrow. Drive through the city and spot some excellent bungalows, built during the British era, and holiday lodges of the royal still standing firm. The town is surrounded by thick green forests that houses a number of wildlife species including wild boars, sambhar and leopards. It’s also home to a number of lakes and waterfalls. The town’s cool and soothing climate makes it an ideal summer retreat.

ATTRACTIONS : DILWARA JAIN TEMPLES
Located about 2kms from the town, the temples are a must visit for their intricate carvings and excellent marble artwork. It is also considered one of the finest Jain temples known world over for its extraordinary architecture. There are a total of five temples in the campus including Vimal Vasahi, Luna Vasahi, Pithalhar, Khartar Vasahi, and Mahavir Swami. These temples were built by Vastupal Tejpal between the 11th and 13th centuries AD. The timings for women are 12 noon to 6.00pm, while men can be a part of early morning prayers too. Proper bathing and changing facilities have been provided at the location.

GURU SHIKHAR
Located about 18kms from the town, it is the highest point in the Aravali mountain range. This peak is the home to the temple of Dattatreya, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. There is also a giant bell suspended from a wooden frame with an inscription dated 1411 adjacent to the temple. From top one can see many kilometres into other parts of Rajasthan. The place gives an excellent panoramic view of surroundings.

Mt ABU OBSERVATORY
Adjacent to Guru Shikar is Mt Abu Observatory, operated by the Physical Research Laboratory. This observatory is equipped with a 1.2m infrared telescope and also several astronomy instruments.

WORLD HEADQUARTERS OF BRAHMA KUMARI
Mt. Abu is also the headquarters of Brahma Kumari from where the knowledge of the king of all yogas, Raja Yoga, is disseminated. This further adds to serenity of Mount Abu. The spiritual headquarters complex consists of three campuses – Madhuban, Gyan Sarovarand Shantivan – as well as a recreational park and the Global Hospital & Research Centre. There are people attached to this place permanently, while others who spend a month or two here to render social services. Throughout the year, the place runs meditation courses, which is open to all. Staff here is very cordial and happy to take one around the place and its operations.

ADHAR DEVI TEMPLE
Dedicated to Goddess Durga, this temple is about 3kms north of the town and one has to climb up about 350 stairs to reach the cave. This temple holds high religious value for Hindu devotees.

ACHALESHWAR MAHADEV TEMPLE
It’s is considered the only temple on Earth where the toe of Lord Shiva is worshipped. It’s over 2,000 years old. Lord Shiva Nandi placed right opposite is made of an alloy of five different metals and is said to have repulsed the Muslim invaders by releasing millions of bumble bees to attack them. The temple is not very crowded on regular days and prayers can be offered at ease.

ACHALGARH FORT
Right above Achaleshwar temple is the Achalgarh Fort built by Rana Kumbha of Mewar during the 14th century. The fort is more or less in ruins and can be done only in foot.

GAUMUKH TEMPLE
It is named after the wish-fulfilling cow gifted to Sage Vashishtha after the famous Samudra Manthan. A natural spring flows through the cow's mouth carved in marble stone. The temple is about 5 kms from the town and one has to climb up about 700 steps. It takes half a day to do this temple. So, plan sightseeing accordingly.

TREVOR’S TANK
A nature lover’s paradise, the tank is named after a British engineer who built it. This man-made tank is located about 2kms from the main gate and is used to breed crocodiles. Crocodiles can be easily spotted basking in the sun if visited in mornings. The road leading to the tank is in a bad shape with 2-3 very crooked patches. There’s a local guard at the gate, who is also the gate keeper. You can hire him though there’s isn’t much to be told. One has to pay extra for guided treks in the jungles around the tank that boasts of other wildlife including boars, sambhars and grey jungle fowl. The place offers some excellent views of surrounding hills and is frequented by birdwatchers too.

Entry fee
India Tourist: Rs 20
Foreign Tourist: Rs 160
Two wheeler: Rs 20
Jeep/Car: 130
Timings: 9.00 am to 5.00pm

NAKKI LAKE
It’s one of the largest man-made lake on a hill. Boating and horse-riding around the lake are main attractions for tourists here. There is the toad rock on a hill near the lake, which can be reached through a rough trek or stairs. Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were immersed in this Holy Lake on 12 February 1948 and Gandhi Ghat was constructed.

SUNSET POINT
Just a few metres ahead of Nakki Lake is the Sunset Point. As most tourists head to this place to view the sunset, park your vehicle near the lake itself and walk the remaining distance as chances of getting stuck in traffic are very high.

ACCOMODATION : Hillock Hotel, Main Mount Abu Road: +91 2974 238 463
Hotel Hilltone, Main Road, Opp Bus Stand: +91 94141 54888
STAR VILLA Hotel, Main Street, before Hotel Hilloc: +91 2974 238 642
Hotel Silver Oak, Opp. Bus Stand: +91 2974 238 301
Hotel Banjara, Main Market: +91 2974 235 478
HG Grandiose: +91 97722 04592
Hotel Summer Hill: +91 2974 238 687
Palanpur Palace Hotel, Delwara Rd: +91 2974 235 911
Chacha Inn: +91 2974 235 374
Udai Garh Mount abu, Near Taxi Stand: +91 2974 237 018

KEEP IN MIND : •Cover up properly when entering Dilwara Temples. Avoid wearing half pants and skirts. Photography is strictly prohibited and better if you keep cameras safe inside the car. There’s a locker provision too outside the temple.
•Gaumukh Temple is not recommended on rainy days and late evenings as the area has thick forest cover.
•Walk up to the sunset point from Nakki Lake to avoid getting stuck in traffic.

BEST TIME : Although the place can be visited all year round, period between November and March is the best time. Nights can be chilly though in winters. It is also the summer capital of Rajasthan but sightseeing could be a pain in summers in afternoon.


Source / Review By : Pramugdha Mamgain Nautiyal

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