Mount Abu in Rajasthan

sunset pointRajasthan’s only hill station and a major pilgrim centre, Mount Abu is located in the south-western corner of Rajasthan. Although a part of the Aravalli range, it is detached completely from it by a narrow valley and the highest point, Guru Shikhar, is situated at its northern end. Interestingly, this is the highest point between the Nilgairis in the south and the Himalayan range up north. Mount Abu, owing to its good rainfall, has the richest vegetation in Rajasthan, a wide variety of trees and shrubs can be viewed as one drives up to Mount Abu. The flowering trees, notably Flame of the forest, and shrubs make the area seem like a gigantic garden. The Padam Purana relates the story of how Mount Abu came into existence. Once Nandini, the cow of the venerable sage Vashishtha, was trapped in a deep chasm and could not free herself. The sage appealed to Lord Shiva for assistance.

Saraswati, the divine stream, flooded the pit and the cow floated up. Vashishtha then approached the great Himalaya and asked him to fill the deep gorge permanently to avoid further mishaps. The youngest son of Himalaya, with the assistance of Arbud, the mighty snake, did the needful. The place came to be called Mount Arbud and was leter reduced to its present form. Mount Abu was also a holy retreat for many sages and seers. And one of the most sacred rites – a yagya- was performed here by sage Vashishta for the purification of the ancient fighting caste, the Kshatriyas. An elaborate sacrificial ceremony was held at the holy Gaumukh and form the mystical fire were born the agnikula Rajputs. These clans were later to have an important impact on the history of this region.

nakki lakeTill about the 11th century, Mount Abu was an important Vaishnav and Shiva pilgrim centre but is today recognized more as a Jain pilgrim centre. More than the weather, vegetation and mythological importance, it is these Jain temples that draw lakhs of visitors to Mount Abu. The Dilwara temples are the best Jain temples in the country. No descirpition can do justice to the beauty of these temples. They are to be seen to be believed. The intricate carving, the sheer beauty of these temples are nothing you may have seen before. It is art at its finest.

As you walk inside these marvels of jain art, you are forced to stop and wonder if it is in indeed the work of human hands!

Gaumukh temple, Achalgarh fort, Toad’s Rock, Sunset Point, Trevor’s Tank are some of the interesting areas to be visited. For those who like walking, Mount Abu has many delightful walks. Nakki lake, carved out by the gods with their nails, is a favourite spot for boating. Mount Abu is best visited during March-June and September-November.