The best way to explore Mount Abu is on a two wheeler. Nothing to beat the ‘ cool wind in your hair’ experience as you go about exploring the nooks and corners of this quaint hill station. If you have your own bike just too good- otherwise also no worries. You have the option of hiring a two wheeler once you reach Mount Abu for a rental between Rs 300/; per day to Rs 1000/; per day depending on the style quotient you desire.
We reached Mt Abu after a six hour ride from Ahmedabad. There is something about mountains that invigorate you , so after a quick cup of coffee in the local market we decided to check out the city. The first sign board we came across was that of the Government museum. Probably not a very popular place with the tourists as we were the only visitors there. Its worth appreciating that only after we entered the museum where the lights and fan switched on- surely a lesson in energy conservation. It’s a very small museum but its worth setting aside 20-25 minutes to see it. It majorly displays sculptures of Gods and Goddesses dating back to 10th century . Also on dispay are local artefacts, dresses, ornaments, artillery, weapons which give a kind of snapshot of the culture and lifestyle of some of the tribes and clans of Rajasthan.
From here we drove to Nakki Lake – most certainly very popular with the typical tourists for whom a visit to a hill station is about boating, horse riding, shopping knickknacks and souvenirs, eating sweet corn and ice cream while strolling around. One can do all this here ( not sure about the horse riding bit) ,so this place is bustling with lots of activity. There are some beautiful rock formations around the lake like the recommended toad rock– one can trek up to them to capture some good pictures. For staying one can opt for one of the many hotels lined up on the lake side with claims of ‘rooms with lake view’ or opt for hotels which are more peaceful , away from the hustle bustle.
After lunch and a siesta we headed straight for the Sunset point to catch the sunset. I wonder why travel guides and websites recommend Sunset point as an ideal point for couples and honey moon travelers. Believe me there is nothing romantic about the place as it is teeming with hordes of people specially during sunset. There are multitude of people not only at the officially constructed viewpoint but there are people perched atop every accessible rock in the near vicinity. I am sure there are other more peaceful and less crowded places from where one can enjoy seeing the sun go down the horizon rather than clamoring for space in this over hyped view point.
On the way back from Sunset point in a densely forested area we crossed the Brahmakumaris World Spiritual University. Curiosity got the better of us and we decided to venture inside this beautiful well kept complex after reading a an unending set of instructions for visitors displayed at the entrance. These included not clicking of photographs inside the premises. We were taken around the complex by a volunteer who also gave us a spiritual discourse on the mysteries of life and death from a ‘Brahmakumaris perspective’.
Rested and recouped after a good nights sleep we were up early to catch a beautiful sunrise. Whenever you are at a hillstation whether in the Himalayas or the Aravallis the thumb rule is not to miss the sunrise and sunset. After breakfast we took off on our bikes to scout around. At a distance of about 4 kilometres from the marketplace are located the 11 century Dilwara temples which are an important pilgrimage for the Jains. The temple complex houses 5 marble temples with very intricately carved architecture. If you are not a Jain you can only visit these temples after 12 noon as the morning hours are reserved for prayers offered by Jains.
From here a very picturesque ride of about 18 kms took us to Achaleshwar village where the Achalgarh fort and Achaleshwar Mahadev temple are located. The temple has a toe print of Siva and a Nandi Bull weighing 4200 kg made of five metals- A similar Nandi is there at the Pashupatinath temple in Nepal. Not much remains of the Achalgarh fort. Our guide Vasundhara a prodigy brought to life this otherwise lustureless place with her interesting stories and legends narrated in the most spectacular manner. Vasundhara actually stole the cake and was the best part of our entire Mount Abu trip.
Next we took the road to GuruShikhar the higest point of the Aravallis. In other words Guru Shikhar is to Aravallis what Mount Everest is to the Himalayas. This involved a steep climb as we rode from an altitude of 1220 metres (Mount Abu) to an altitude of 1722 metres (Guru Shikhar). A cave temple dedicated to Dattatreya an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and another one dedicated to his mother Ausuiya attract hordes of locals. There is an observatory and lots of rocks on which you can climb to have an unhindered view and a ‘top of the world feel’.
That was all we had time for. We grabbed a quick bite in a café at the market place, strapped our luggage onto our bikes and started our ride back to Ahmedabad after bidding adieu to this humble hillstation- Mount Abu.