After exploring the City of Lakes and its outskirts, it was time to venture out a bit further and visit other gems in the vibrant state of Rajasthan. The next destination of my journey was Mount Abu. Situated at an altitude of 1200 m, Mount Abu is a popular hill station, offering refuge from harsh summers of the region. The hill of Mount Abu, although isolated from the main range, is a part of the Aravali range that bisects Rajasthan into Mewar and Marwar. The hills are surrounded with pristine deciduous forests teeming with wildlife. Along with recreational places like Nakki lake, Mount Abu houses an architectural wonder of Dilwara temples. Being a mountain lover, I was quite excited to visit all the places on this hill station.
|The scenery on the way to Gurushikhar|
I checked out of Banjara hostel by 9 AM and started my journey toward Mount Abu. Half of the route was same as that for yesterday. So, navigation wasn’t much of a concern. It was a bright sunny day and temperature was around 20 degree Celsius. How perfect it can be to ride a bullet on a smooth highway? I was enjoying my ride to the fullest. After I crossed Pindwara, the weather suddenly became warmer. I increased the frequency of water breaks to keep myself hydrated. Soon I reached Abu Road, the town at the base of Mount Abu. From here the ghat road was about to begin. I stopped for a glass of sugarcane juice and geared up to “climb” the mountain. Fortunately, the road was well-maintained. Being a weekday, traffic was scarce. The deciduous trees of Aravali hills were popping out of deep valleys. As I gained altitude, I was greeted with bouts of pleasant wind. A few more turns and I was entering the hilly town of Mount Abu. I had booked a quaint homestay called Babbar’s Deb. It was a little away from the main square of the town. This homestay was managed by Mr. Babbar. He welcomed me with a warm gesture and gave some tips about exploring the town.
It was almost 1 PM and I was hungry. I grabbed a quick meal of Dal Bati at a local restaurant and started my excursion to Gurushikhar. Gurushikhar, rising to 1722 m, is the highest point in the Aravali range. It houses a temple of Dattatreya who is considered an incarnation of Vishnu. The road was not in a great condition and the curves were steeper. However, the scenery was breathtaking. The landscape was adorned with rocky outcrops surrounded by grasslands and forests. The blazing afternoon sun had no effect on the temperature as it hovered around 15 degree Celsius. Within a few minutes I reached Gurushikhar. I parked my bike and started climbing the steps to the summit. The temple of Dattatreya was located just a few feet below the summit. At the summit, there was a small cave housing footprints of Dattatreya. Just besides the cave was the point from where one could see the panoramic view of the Aravali hills. I climbed the last step and stood still looking at the mesmerizing beauty of the landscape. On one side, one could see the vast plains of Mewar dotted with tiny patches of farmland. On the other side, never ending rocky slopes occupied the landscape. On an adjacent hillock, there was Mount Abu Observatory operated by the Physical Research Laboratory. This lab hosts an infrared telescope and conducts astronomy experiments. I sat next to the temple for a few minutes enjoying the view. Clicked some pictures and came down. I had to reach Dilwara temples before they close for the day.
|Mesmerizing view from Gurushikhar|
|The observatory on the adjacent hillock|
Dilwara temples are a group of temples dedicated to Jain Tirthankars. Built by the Solanki kings during 11th and 13th centuries, these temples are famous for their intricate carvings. In total, these are five temples: Vimal Vasahi, Luna Vasahi, Pittalhara Vasahi, Parshwanath, and Mahavir Swami. The main temple, Vimal Vasahi, is dedicated to Rishabhdev or Adinath and it is the most ornate among the five. I parked my bike and entered the temple area. Unlike most temples in India, these temples do not have tall Shikhara or Gopura. In fact, the outer walls appear to be quite ordinary. As I reached the entrance, I came to know that camera, phone, or other personal belongings were not permitted inside. I felt a bit annoyed for not allowing the camera. I left my belongings at the counter and proceeded toward the temple. The first one to encounter was Vimal Vasahi. The inside scene was just beyond words. Every inch of the interior was decorated with detailed carvings. The pillars were like ornaments. And the ceiling of the Ranga Mandapa was like an icing on the cake. At the center of this dome was a stone chandelier. The chandelier was surrounded by several concentric circles, each housing a row of carvings. The outermost circle had statues of Vidyadevi carved with impeccable symmetry. And all this was carved out of a single stone! I was just wondering whether this was carved before installing the ceiling or after. The ceilings of ambulatory passages were also adorned with beautiful carvings. Some portions had geometrical shapes, whereas some portions contained vines and flowers. A central chandelier-like piece protruding downward was common to all portions.
I roamed around all the halls and subshrines, appreciating the sheer magnificence of the temple. Later, I visited the other temples in the complex. These were similar in structure but a little lesser intricate in decorations. I was badly missing my camera. I walked through all the halls and courtyards of these temples and tried to record everything in my biological memory card. The attempt was mesmerizing and exhausting at the same time! After spending almost an hour in observing the masterpieces of architecture I started my journey back to Mount Abu.
To be continued…