Delhi to Mount Abu – A Tiring yet Refreshing Drive

The advent of spring was greeted with great excitement as it gives one of the two breaks – the other being summer – for a long-overdue trip somewhere. Planning started in right earnest for the whole of 11 days in hand which falls towards the end of March. Wanted to do a real long drive but hopes were dashed as the days drew near; school found out that the end-of-the-year meeting with the teacher is best done in the middle of the week, wifey-dear was held up at work for a few days – finally three free days dripped down through the sieve of engagements into my expectant goblet. Rather than sulking at the misfortune, decided to put to use the ‘three drops in the goblet’ as best as I could.

The lot fell on Mount Abu, the sole hill station of Rajasthan. It brought some challenges as well. Being the lone driver, would I be able to do a distance of over 750 km in a day? So far the maximum was just over 500 km. I prefer day driving. Setting out too early in the morning also was ruled out as it disturbs my fragile sleep pattern. The youngest passenger being just 5, frequent and longer breaks were required. But achieving this milestone was important as it would help me plan longer distances all over the country.

And the D-day arrived. We set out at 5 in the morning and soon hit the NH8. With its dancing lights, the Gurgaon expressway looked more like a runway. The expressways, though good for faster movement, seem to take away the romance out of travel. It just takes you from one place to another without any accompanying pleasing sights – you see more of metal poles and concrete which tends to rather depress the traveller. As someone said ‘you can drive from coast to coast without seeing anything’ holds true for such roads. However, the techno-drive ended soon enough and driving became pleasant.

Dodging trucks was the game we played until Jaipur bypass. It took just over 4 hours with a short break for sandwiches and coffee that we carried from home. Truckers never sleep and you find them in hordes any time of the day on this stretch. Interestingly, the game was played while the speedometer was reading in excess of the lowest three figure mark. The highway became wider and smoother after Jaipur and the speedo responded accordingly. Gradually the green cover thinned out and the colour of soil turned sandy – harbinger of the impending harsh summer months.

The landscape

The landscape


Once you reach Kishangarh, there are three routes to the destination: (i) via Chittaurgarh – Udaipur (NH79) (ii) via Rajasamand – Udaipur (NH8) and (iii) via Pali – Sirohi (NH14). The first has the best surface but is longer and the third takes you directly to Mount Abu. As we were unsure of making it to Abu before dark, we opted for the second. It was an undivided two-lane road with ups and downs and lot of bends where you can’t go over hundred – unless you are a rally driver –but I would rather drive on such roads.

However, I was disappointed with what I saw as we reached the rural area – sparse vegetation, dry blades of grass, craggy hills and rocky terrain. I was ready for sand dunes but not rocks! I started thinking about it and it dawned on me that if it weren’t different why would one go to visit another place? As we drove farther on, I started liking it, especially as we went up a hill. Here’s what we saw:

Craggy hills

Craggy hills

I noticed that many of the huge trucks here carry a load of a couple of heavy marble boulders. When we reached a place called Pasoond, we could see rows and rows of shops selling marble slabs. In fact it seemed the only item you could purchase at this place was marble slabs!

At 6 in the evening we reached the outskirts of Udaipur. Odometer read 712. We decided to press on as there was enough daylight. After some confusion over which direction to take, we hit the right one on NH76. It soon turned into a nightmare as the highway was still being laid and there were bad patches where work was still on. Though the rest of the highway was cream, traffic was non-existent and this made us a little jittery. We decided to call it a day after an hour and a half and found a cheap but spacious room for ourselves. It was the right decision as the territory was unknown.

Tunnels on NH76

Tunnels on NH76

No vehicles around. Why not us?

No vehicles around. Why not us?

We set out again the next morning. Just before Pindwara, the new highway ended and thru the town we came on to NH14. One more deviation and we reached Abu Road. The climb to Mount Abu starts from here. 20 km of uphill drive on smooth roads lined with langurs (yes, the primate) amidst flowering trees – red and lavender being the prominent colours – we reached our destination. Odometer now read 835.

View from Gurushikhar, the highest point of Mt. Abu

View from Gurushikhar, the highest point of Mt. Abu

Set on the western end of Aravalli ridges at a height of over 1200 metres, Mount Abu looks fresh. Cool weather, Gujarati/Rajasthani food, wide clean roads, beautiful lake & garden and a few other places of interest close by – you can spend a few days here and refresh yourselves. It doesn’t have the dilapidated look of some of the Himalayan resorts. Visiting Delwara temple with its exquisite marble carvings is a must.

A view of the lake and town from Toad Rock

A view of the lake and town from Toad Rock

Are the rocks here soft? Whether at Gurushikhar or at Toad Rock, its ‘holey’ and ‘cavey’ – susceptible to holes and even cave-ins. Have seen rocks at many places in Kerala and even Atlanta’s Stone Mountain. Those are all massive boulders, pounded by heavy rains round the year, yet with no hint of a hole anywhere.

‘Holey’ Toad Rock

‘Holey’ Toad Rock

Everything except rotis in the Gujarati thali was sweetened. So diabetes is a Gujju’s worst nightmare, I presume. Driving out of Delhi, this is the first place where I got to see an abundance of non-Delhi license plates other than the local ones. Seems to be Gujarati’s favourite destination.

Another view of the lake

Another view of the lake

We started for Delhi the next day via Sirohi-Pali (NH14) which joins NH8 at Beawar. The terrain is greener and flat. The two-lane road passes thru rural areas and the surface is good. Things were great till Jaipur but thereafter all three lanes of Jaipur–Delhi stretch were taken over by trucks – where we had to follow rather than dodge – and reached home safe late in the night.

30 Comments

  • Aditya says:

    835kms.. Great !! Very well described. I have been on both roads Chittaurgarh – Udaipur (NH79) and Rajasamand Udaipur (NH8) so i can very well connect with your road journey. It reminds me the truck which was carrying a giant single slab of marble, we saw it during our Delhi-Vadodara Drive.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • nandanjha says:

    so the next one is of four digit one ? :)

    Great story with so much detail. Makes me itch more and even more to drive out.

    Why the pics look as if they are of last decade ?

    • Patrick Jones says:

      The original plan was for a four digit one, Nandan. Circumstances forced me to go for this one :-)

      Sorry about the pics. Tried my best to do justice to the original but the final output stubbornly refused to cooperate.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Thanks Aditya. Except for the last leg, the drive was indeed good and it gives me the confidence to go farther.

    As someone said, the path is as important as the destination. For me, the sights along the way provides the real thrill.

  • Celine says:

    That’s an interesting read. 835 kms! I think those rocks are igneous rocks which have a tendency to form ‘holes’ or cavities because of the weathering effect. Did you see any interesting wildlife in the region? Are you gonna show us some pictures of the Dilwara Temple?

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Thanks a lot, Celine.

    Mt. Abu is a protected wildlife area but we could only see langurs lined up on the road. There are trails for wildlife watching but we hardly had the time for that.

    You need to deposit your cameras and even cell phones with the temple authorities before entering Delwara (seems this is how they prefer to spell it) so no question of photographs but they really are a marvel in marble, carved out a thousand years ago. The main idol is made of ‘pancha loha’ and said to contain 880 kg of gold but what takes your breath away is the intricately carved pillars, domes, arches and doorways.

    Thanks for your input on ingenious rocks. Geology being one of the (many) elusive areas for me, leave it to you experts.

  • sanjay says:

    Great description. Brought back memories of our trip three years ago.
    Looking forward to more from you.

  • Sudhir says:

    Great drive and a crisp write-up. I have never been on this circuit, though it is on my agenda now. Wish the pics had come out good.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    What a great narrative, Patrick.

    I have been wanting to see the legendary marble temples of Dilwara for a long time. Somehow, farthest I could reach was Udaipur.

    Mount Abu looks much closer now. Your post has created an urge to visit the place soonest.

    • Patrick Jones says:

      Began wondering what happened…..

      Well, thank you for the comment. Delwara definitely deserves a visit. Its hard to take one’s eyes off those intricately carved figural and floral motifs. Hats off to those skillful hands that made it.

  • BENZON JOHN says:

    Hi Patrick,
    Pretty interesting to read…….. well narrated journey – feeling of me too travelled when I finished reading !

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Very interesting and crisp read Patrick, I loved your observations and the way you put them. Gujju’s worst nightmare … :-) I agree with it.

    The idol is not of “Panch loha” but its of “Panch Dhaatu” – Five metals. It is an alloys of five metals copper, gold, lead, silver and iron.

    Only thing, I feel three days in total (including drive) are too less for Mt. Abu, it deserves more.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Thanks a lot, Manish, for your valuable inputs. ‘Loha’ in all southern languages means ‘metal’ and not ‘iron’ as in Hindi. Well, I should’ve thought about it.

    Your were bang on target with your opinion about the time required for Mt. Abu.

    The resident Rajasthan expert was missing but now the post looks complete

    :-)

  • Venkat says:

    I would like to visit Mount abu from Delhi via ajmer, Udainpur and beck to Delhi directly. I would like to know is it advisible drive in santro car ? Is the road condition better now? I have 4 dasy , planning to stay at Ajmer, then at Udaipur and mount abu? is its possible to cover in 4 days?
    Please do advise

    • Akash says:

      Hello Venkat,

      Santro is a very reliable car and can do this without any issue. I did parts of this route around 8 months back in a Santro. My route was Noida-Jaipur(night stay)-Chittaurgarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad(night stay)-Mumbai-Pune(stay)-Shirdi-Indore(night stay)-Chittaurgarh-Jaipur-Noida. I did not face any issue with the car in the entire trip of over 3300 km. On last day of this trip we covered around 960 kms in one day and Santro performed very well so don’t worry your car can do this. Just make sure you get you car checked before the trip.

      However I feel 4 days is not enough time to cover 3 places you have listed. It will be more of touch and go.
      here is how your trip looks like based on your inputs:
      Day 1 : Delhi to Ajmer (Stay at Ajmer)
      Day 2 ; Ajmer to Udaipur (Stay at Udaipur) : around 4-5 hrs drive
      Day 3 : Udaipur to Mount Abu (Stay at Mount Abu) : around 3 hrs drive
      Day 4 : Mount Abu to Delhi (Day 4 will be a long drive, more than 750 to 850 kms based on the route taken making it around 12 hrs drive. )

      Hope this helps.

      Thanks,
      Akash

  • Marendik says:

    Is it possible to reach there on single day and which route is the best? Besides, i ll be the only driver!!!

    • Pat says:

      Its over 800 km from Delhi so its possible if you start early. Take NH8 and then NH14. Please drive carefully taking regular short breaks.

  • harmeet says:

    i wud like to know how the road condition is from delhi to mount abu. and how long it will take as on now..is it advisable to travel with 2 small kids below 3 years of age for this long journey.. how r the hotels there??? comfort and price wise…?? plz reply soon.i m planning to leave tomorrow morning if things work out good…

    • Pat says:

      Roads to Abu is always in good condition unless rains played havoc. Hotels are available to suit all pockets. If you are travelling from Delhi its is advisable to take a halt in between while travelling with kids. It will take about 12-14 hours.

  • rajvir.bhatnagar says:

    I will be driving down from delhi to Udaipur shortly. Last time, we had driven via nasirabad- chittorgarh route. I learn that NH8 is now better with 4 lane all through and therefore travelling via ajmer-beawar-rajsamand-nathdwara may be a better route. We are not interested in any site seeing/pilgrimage enroute to Udaipur.

    Could you please advise which route will be better:- (1). via kishangarh- chittorgarh or ( 2) via ajmer-rajsamand-nathdwara.

    Regards,

    RB

  • Rakesh Bawa says:

    Bhatnagae Sahib, both r equally good. The road via Nathdwara is not as wide as other road and a bitt hilly and curvy and u do not get many dhabas en route but the route via Kishangarh is more wide and having more hustle bustle . U don,t feel that noone is with u.

  • I have never heard of these place such as Peace Park, Toad Rock and Doodh Baori. It’s really good to know that the such place exist, whenever i go there, try to visit all these places you have mentioned, specially Toad Rock, it look amazing from the image only.

  • Meraj says:

    Took me back to the one time I visited Mount Abu a decade or so back. From that time what I remember, and something that’s been reaffirmed by other travellers is that Mount Abu is suffering on account of its proximity to Gujarat. Not sure if you’ve figured it out by now but the preponderance is solely on account of Gujarat being a dry state!

  • Akshay jain says:

    I think you all must visit this place. Great place to hangout with your family and friends i am saying this because i am living near to the mount abu that is udaipur. I must appreciate your work you had a great content which will helps a lots of visiters.

  • Akshay jain says:

    I think you all must visit this place. Great place to hangout with your family and friends i am saying this because i am living near to the mount abu that is udaipur. I must appreciate your work you had a great content which will helps a lots of visiters.even i had also written the same content which will helps also

    http://www.citytoexplore.com/mount-abu-tourism/

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