Mount Abu

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Mt. Abu is a green oasis in the barren Rajasthan desert. Situated at the southern tip of the Aravali range , the road leading to Mount Abu is a curved one characterized by arid region dotted with huge rocks in weird shapes and high winds. Families of langur monkeys watch our progress. The only hill station in Rajasthan, ‘Abu’ according to a legend.stands for the son of Himalaya, deriving its name from Arbuada,the powerful serpent who rescued Nandi, the sacred bull of Lord Shiva, from a chasm.

[11/1/2003 journal] We’d thought this would be a rest day, but tour guides live by Parkinson’s Law -- itineraries will expand to fill all available time.. We were collected at 10, and drove higher into the hills. With no forewarning, we stopped at the Rajyga institute and were treated to a monotone lecture of pseudo philosophical gibberish mixing generalized Indian mythology with clumsy attempts to reconcile or predict modern science. Apparently such institutes thrive in this area, with no lack of either domestic or western visitors. When released, we quickly walked around the tiny 'garden' that ostensibly was the reason for stopping in the first place. But finally we found out that this roadside attraction was filler - turns out we were just marking time til temples open at 12. So we returned the the hotel and wandered about the bazaars until early afternoon. The visit to the Dilwara Jain Temple was another highlight of the trip, despite the prohibition of cameras. These beautifully carved temples built between 11th and 13th century A.D. are sheer elegance in marble, dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. The Vimal Vasahi temple is the oldest of these dedicated to the first Tirthankara. Built in 1031 A.D. (by Vimal Shah-a merchant and representative of then Gujarat ruler), it is a superb example of temple architecture.

Later we drove out to Sunset Point to witness a decidedly average sunset, but once again, the diversion was appreciated for the chance to meet curious domestic tourists and chat. Dilwara Jain Temple:

Other links:

The Traveler's Key to Northern India - a Guide to the Sacred Places of Northern India - Alistair Shearer  The best of the TK series, this one keeps the pseudoscience to a minimum while providing more detailed descriptions of Ellora, Khajuraho, Ajanta, Mount Abu and many other sites in Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.
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