Mt. Abu, with an altitude of merely 1220 meter is the only hill-station in Rajasthan. It attracts maximum tourists from Gujrat for its very easy access, being at the borders and also serves as a water hole for booze parties. The shop owners and hoteliers are mostly Gujratis or can speak Gujrati fluently due to their largest inflow. It would be however, injustice on the part of this extremely charming and soothing place, if it is underestimated as a place for boozing only.
Tourists from all over do also visit the place for its exquisite landscape and lush greenery in the contrast of magnificent hills, lakes in wilderness and naturally carved rocks hanging on the cliffs in various formation, due to natural erosion in centuries. The gem of the jewel is the Nakki Lake, an artificial lake surrounded by the Aravali with a recent inclusion of Bharat Mata Mandir in the middle of the lake on an Island. Chores of colourful paddle boats sailing in the lake are of great attraction.
Morning was cool, but seeking proper rest to rejuvenate the body needed a leisurely relaxation. Hence, decided to spare the day in Spa, Massage and resting by the pool side under the warmth of soothing Sun, evening was decided for outing in the Mall area. After the much required relaxation coupled with a nap, we were ready for the go.
Evening is extremely lively in Mt. Abu, unlike other hills, the Mall road here remains crowded till late in the evening, say upto 10 – 11 pm at least. One of the safest hill station, less colder due to lower altitude and superb law and order, I was always pleased to see the care free atmosphere there. Diwali being just passed, the decorative lightings of the shops and hotels were still shimmering, adding extra charm to the already charming place. The vibrant stalls, mostly laden with Gujrati & Rajasthani stuffs are bound to lure your better half. Rows of ice-cream shops, pastries, cookies and crushed ice-balls (Golas) in different flavor are the trade mark of Mt. Abu.
Activities around Nakki Lake are however, stalled at 8 pm for security reasons. The surrounding is expanding with growing popularity and increasing inflow since I have last visited the place in 1998 and again in 2008.
Despite serving as water hole, the liquor shops are limited and strictly maintain the timings, upto 9 pm only. Available in hotels/resorts however, at a much higher price, almost double the actual rate, so guys, don’t pay extra like me.
Cars & Bikes are available on rent and can be hired by providing your license at reasonable charges, varying upon the models you choose. It is easy and enjoyable self driving or biking around the plateau with skills of negotiating curves in the hilly terrains.
After enjoying the youthful and vibrant evening, we had our dinner before reaching our resort. Next morning was planned to visit the other worth sites viz. Guru Shikhar, Dilwara Jain Temples, Achalgarh, Mount Abu Sanctuary etc. The most prominent characteristic of the tiny hill station is its calmness and lush greenery despite that it is one of the oldest mountain formations on earth.
To start with, we headed towards Achalgarh. The road upto Mandakini Lake, which is almost dried and highly polluted, is attached with many legends. The three bulls carved out of black rock standing on the bank prove their ancient legendry presence. Interestingly, lots of kids will insist you to hire them as guides and amazingly with innocence, recite the memorized legendry stories about the place comprised with occasional dual meaning poems (shayris) to amuse you in bargain of petty tips.
The very ancient Hindu temples present there comprise of the Arbuda Devi Temple and Raghu Nathji Temples, artistically carved out of sedimentary rocks. Shacks and stalls selling local stuffs out numbers the mall road bustles of Abu. If you are not breathless then ascending upto the very old Jain temple may give you a glimpse of the sculptural excellence of the time in architecture. It also provides a bird eye view of the tranquil, serene and lush panorama of the landscape.
Another must visit place is Guru Shikhar, the highest point where the very unique temple of Dattatreya is situated atop, inside a cave where you need to mind your head, with no caution-signs though. A huge bell on the terrace attracts tourist to bang on it and simultaneously pose against its backdrop. The place is also important because of the 360 degree panoramic view available from there. The rows of stalls all the way on both sides of the stairs selling local painting though cheaply framed, artistry, handicrafts etc. are pretty cheap and good options for general gifting or decorations back in home or your office. I bought one gun metal Harley miniature, to satisfy the coveted dream bike of every Man I believe.
Down the lanes, we felt like visiting the Wild Life Sanctuary also hence given a try. After paying a petty entry fee we drove inside the wild in greed to catch sight of some wild life. I am not sure if there is any wild life remains in the sanctuary but the landscape is very wild with dense bushes surrounded by the oldest rock formations. However, the water body inside the park serves the purpose of picnic spot. A few cages were left abandoned, were abodes to leopards, tigers and bears etc., only their labels are left now. An hour of care free hanging around leisurely in the wilderness was not a bad spell.
On the way back a small lake containing bottle green water, surrounded by the rocky Aravalli range was a spontaneous stopover. The lake filled with fishes was also hospitable to many fresh water snakes.
Our next hot spot was the very famous Dilwara Temples, by now, the sun was scorching. The temple complex is a revered pilgrimage to the Jains which are exclusively carved out of white marbles and constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries AD. A cluster of five different shrines interconnected though are dedicated to the Jain Tirthankars. The outer look of the complex is simple but exquisitely detailed craftsmanship and sculpting inside. The pillars, domes, doors, pendants and figurines are minutely carved and chiseled, earning it the fame of being one of the World’s most beautiful architectures. Photography in the premise is however, not allowed.
Pertinent to mention, the headquarters of the Brahma Kumari community is also situated here and attracts visitors to glance its mammoth building inside the large sprawling lush boundary. Followers of the faith, in large numbers, often from around the world also visit the place.
The worst ever place often visited in Mount Abu is the sun set point. Just a waste, as I could never see a sunset kind of view ever in my multiple visits. Why visited! Because you have nothing left to do before the evening in the area. It is funny to see people rushing for the golden moment which ends up in grudge. A white ball is what you can capture in your camera because the sun vanishes in the mist or cloud of fine dust in the atmosphere much before its setting.
When in Mount Abu, evening is always advisable in the Mall area, close to Nakki Lake. We were on our way back to home after the SHORT journey hence, decided some buying for the family members. Believe me you may get all stuffs and handicraft items of Rajasthan and Gujrat at this spot at a fairly reasonable price on bargain, if in off season for the women folk. For men, you may pick a Gun of any shape and model, without a license, abundantly available in the open-market. Don’t be excited, they are only the Air Guns. With shopping enough stuffs for everyone, we slept quite early after putting our extra baggage in the car.
Next morning, with relaxed mind and rejuvenated body, I was once again behind the wheel on the road journey, but this time back to home towards Delhi. But wait, we need to pass by Chittorgarh and neither me nor my wife have ever visited the place hence, may get tempted to visit the fort town on the way.
The journey continues……