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>> Mount Abu
|Perched at an altitude of 1,220 metres above sea level, Mt. Abu is Rajasthan’s only hill station. It is around 180 km away from Jodhpur, the second biggest city of Rajasthan, and 509 km away from Jaipur, the state capital. It is also one of the major pilgrimage sites of India for both Hindu as well as Jain religions. Besides the temples and sites of historical importance, Mt. Abu is also rich in natural scenic beauties.
Mt. Abu was once a part of the Chauhan kingdom. It was later leased to theBritish by the then Maharaja of Sirohi for use as the headquarters of the resident to Rajputana (another name for Rajasthan). During the British rule in India, it was the favourite summer destination of the British who came here to escape the dusty, dry heat of the plains.
Mt. Abu was also the home of many saints and sages in ancient times. Legend has it that all the three hundred and thirty million gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon used to visit this holy mountain. This place is held in reverence by Jains since Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankara (spiritual leader), visited Mt. Abu and blessed the city.
Mt. Abu is the highest point between the Nilgiris in the south and the Himalayas in the north. The location and weather of Mount Abu has given this charming little hill station a wide variety of vegetation. On the drive up to Mount Abu, the flowering trees and shrubs make it seem like a huge garden. A meandering stream nearby and tall pine trees make for excellent natural scenery and gives the place an almost ethereal aura. Besides being a popular hill station, this cool and cosy city is also famous for its temples. The first to come to mind are the Dilwara Temples, which are the finest examples of Jain art and architecture. The plain marbles of the exteriors do not prepare the visitor for the richly embellished interiors. Episodes from different Jain legends are intricately carved in marble and so lifelike and delicate are the sculptures that it is difficult to believe they are indeed carved out of stone. Mount Abu is indeed the pivot of the Jain world.
Mt. Abu offers some good day-treks to nearby places. Achalgarh (11 km) offers superb views of the surroundings. The famous Achaleshwar temple here is believed to have Shiva’s toeprint. Guru Shikhar (15 km), set at an altitude of 1,720 metres, is the region’s highest peak and offers good views especially at dawn.
DILWARA JAIN TEMPLES
Dilwara is a historical pageant of many years and many stones, much sweat and much love, a legend in marble. A sacred pilgrimage of the Jains, the five legendary marble temples of Dilwara are an overwhelming blend of simple beauty and exquisite elegance—no other temple in Rajasthan can come close to these in terms of architectural perfection. It would be very difficult to exaggerate the beauty of these temples. When travellers in the past recorded their impressions of these temples it was with a sense of awe. The amount of ornamental detail spread over these structures in the minutely carved decoration of ceilings, doorways, pillars, panels and niches is simply marvellous, while the crisp translucent shell-like treatment of the marble surpasses anything seen elsewhere, and some of the designs are just dreams of beauty. Dilwara is a historical pageant of many years and many stones, much sweat and much love, a legend in marble. A sacred pilgrimage of the Jains, the five legendary marble temples of Dilwara are an overwhelming blend of simple beauty and exquisite elegance—no other temple in Rajasthan can come close to these in terms of architectural perfection. It would be very difficult to exaggerate the beauty of these temples. When travellers in the past recorded their impressions of these temples it was with a sense of awe. The amount of ornamental detail spread over these structures in the minutely carved decoration of ceilings, doorways, pillars, panels and niches is simply marvellous, while the crisp translucent shell-like treatment of the marble surpasses anything seen elsewhere, and some of the designs are just dreams of beauty.
In the heart of the town, at one end of the Mall, is the serene Nakki Lake which has an interesting history. It is believed that the gods formed the lakebed by digging it with their fingernails (nakh); hence the name, Nakki Lake. Picturesquely set, with the hills rising all around it, the lake has several islets to which you can hire boats. An interesting facet of the lake are the many rock formations around it. They have been named Toad Rock, Nun Rock, Nandi Rock and Camel Rock because of their resemblance to these figures. Nun Rock is a large smooth rock as it supposedly looks a woman with a veil. The climb up to these rocks, through the wooded forests is a beautiful one, with each of the rocks on the way making unique formations, fissures and shapes.
Like all other hill stations, Mt. Abu too has its horse rides, honeymoon and sunset points. The Sunset Point here is definitely worth a visit. An entire hill has been carved into several layers, top to bottom, and as the sun begins to lower itself in the sky, the hill is crowded with people covered in the golden glow of the setting sun. There\’s also a Honeymoon Point that gives a good glimpse of the sunset and the plains as well. A few kilometres from the lake and on the western side of the Adhar Devi temple, there lies the Shanti Shikhar (the peak of peace), which offers a panoramic view of the valley.
Excursions for Mt. Abu
||Achalgarh, situated around 11 kilometres from Mt. Abu, offers superb views of the surroundings. It houses the Achalgarh Fort, built in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha. The ninth-century Achaleshwar Temple situated here is believed to have Shiva’s toeprints, a brass Nandi and a deep hole that is supposed to reach the netherworld. Nearby is the Mandakini Tank, where the image of Adi Pal, a Paramar king, along with three large stone buffaloes pierced with an arrow is a major attraction.
|Around 15 km from Mt. Abu is Guru Shikhar, the highest peak of the Aravalli range (1,721 metres). There is a certain serenity about the temple built atop this peak. The temple might just have stepped out of a fairy tale, with only a small portion in pink jutting out of an otherwise plain white chalk building. Inside is a shrine of Dattatreya, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu while outside, a little distance from its door, is a huge brass bell, which stands as a sentinel overlooking the lush greenness of Mount Abu. The view from Guru Shikhar, especially at dawn, is marvellous.
• Area 15.54 sq. km
• Population 15,593
• Altitude 1,220 metres above sea level
• Languages Rajasthani, Hindi
• Best time to visit February-June and September-December
• STD code 02974
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