Consisting of British style bungalows and the holiday lodges of the royals, the city blends in the tribal communities living in the forests on the hills surrounding it. Rich in flora and fauna, these forests serve as further attractions of the city. The highest peak of the hills is Gurushikhar, housing a sanctuary with a rich wildlife. This splendid environment served as the abode of many saints and sages in the old times.
There are numerous legends associated with the city of Mount Abu in Rajasthan, India. It is believed that the mountains of Mt. Abu used to be visited by all the 330 million Hindu gods and goddesses. The great saint Vashishtha is also said to have lived here and performed a yagna to create four clans of fire to protect the earth from demons. The venue of yagna was near a natural spring, streaming from a cow head shaped rock. Another legend is that Saraswati, the divine stream, flooded a gorge in which the cow of Vashishtha fell, to help her float up. Afterwards, sage Vashishtha asked the youngest son of Himalaya to fill the gorge permanently to avoid any further mishap. Arbud, the mighty snake helped in the task and since then, the spot became famous as Mount Arbud. Afterwards, the name was changed to Mount Abu.
Mt. Abu travel and tourism is mainly famous for the Dilwara Jain temples. An architectural excellence, these temples are constructed of exquisitely carved marble stone. It is also believed that Mount Abu was paid a visit by Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankar. There are also a number of Hindu temples in the city reliving the historical past of the city. Another popular destination of Mt. Abu is the Brahmkumari Ashram, a religious community center. Apart from the structural beauty, it is the natural magnificence consisting of weirdly shaped gigantic rocks, lovely lakes and cool climate that makes Mount Abu a unique place amidst the dry land of the Rajasthan.
Mount Abu Sanctuary: The sanctuary located in Mount Abu was declared as a protected area in the year 1960 and ever since then this sanctuary which is spread over the gorgeous Aravalli range of mountains has been attracting not only domestic tourists but also tourists from overseas. Mount Abu is Rajasthan's only hill station and in the days of yore it used to be the summer retreat of Rajasthan's royalty.
Major Temples of Dilwara
Luna Vasahi (Shri Nemi Nathji temple) : The Luna Vashi temple is dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankara Shri Nemi Nathji. This magnificent temple was built in 1230 AD by two brothers - Vastupal and Tejpal - both ministers of a local ruler. The temple built in memory of their late brother Luna was designed after the Vimal Vashi temple. The main hall or Rang mandap features a central dome from which hangs a big ornamental pendent featuring elaborate carving. Arranged in a circular band are 72 figures of Tirthankaras in sitting posture and just below this band are 360 small figures of Jain monks in another circular band. The Hathishala or elephant cell features 10 beautiful marble elephants neatly polished and realistically modelled.
The Navchowki features some of the most magnificent and delicate marble stone cutting work of the temple. Each of the nine ceilings here seems to exceed the others in beauty and grace. The Gudh mandap features a black marble idol of the 22nd Jain Tirthankara Neminath. The Kirthi Stambha is a big black stone pillar that stands on the left side of the temple. The pillar was constructed by Maharana Kumbha of Mewar. The remaining three temples of Dilwara are smaller but just as elegant as the other two.
Vimal Vasahi Temple (Shri Adi Nathji temple) : This temple carved entirely out of white marble was built in 1021 AD by Vimal Shah, a minister of Raja Bhimdeo. The temple is dedicated to the 1st Jain Tirthankara (teacher or guide) Adi Nath. The temple stands in an open courtyard surrounded by a corridor, which has numerous cells containing smaller idols of the Tiranthakaras. The richly carved corridors, pillars, arches, and 'mandaps' or porticoes of the temple are simply amazing. The ceilings feature engraved designs of lotus-buds, petals, flowers and scenes from Jain and Hindu mythology.
The Navchowki is a collection of nine rectangular ceilings, each one containing beautiful carvings of different designs supported on ornate pillars. The Gudh mandap is a simple hall once you step inside its heavily decorated doorway. Installed here is the idol of Adi Nath or Lord Rishabdev, as he is also known. The mandap is meant for 'Arti' to the deity. The Hastishala (Elephant Cell) was constructed by Prithvipal, a descendant of Vimal Shah in 1147-49 A.D and features a row of elephants in sculpture.
Mahaveer Swami Temple (Shri Mahaveer Swamiji temple) : This is a small structure constructed in 1582 A.D. and dedicated to the 24th Jain Tirthankara, Lord Mahaveer. There are pictures on the upper walls of the porch painted in 1764 A.D. by the artists of Sirohi.
Parshavanath Temple : This temple, dedicated to Lord Parshavnath was built by Mandlik and his family in 1458-59 A.D. It consists of a three storied building, the tallest of all the shrines at Dilwara. On all the four faces of the sanctum on the ground floor are four big mandaps. The outer walls of the sanctum comprise of beautiful sculptures in gray sandstone, depicting Dikpals, Vidhyadevis, Yakshinis, Shalabhanjikas and other decorative sculptures comparable to the ones in Khajuraho and Konark.
Pittalhar Temple (Shri Rishabh Deoji temple) : This temple was build by Bhima Shah, a minister of Sultan Begada of Ahmedabd. A massive metal statue of Rishab Dev (Adinath), cast in five metals is installed in the temple. The main metal used in this statue is 'Pital' (brass), hence the name 'Pittalhar'. The Shrine consists of a main Garbhagraha, Gudh mandap and Navchowki.
Places to Stay in Mount Abu
A number of options, according to the budget allocation of the tourists, are available in Abu. The accommodation level ranges from a highly luxurious hotel to a dormitory. But rooms should be booked well in advance if willing to visit this exotic hill station during summer.
Shopping in Mount Abu
Curios in marble, sandalwood and sandstone can be bought from the shops around Nakki Lake. Kota saris, bangles and linen with Sanganeri prints are also available. For Rajasthani Handicrafts there is Rajasthali, Rajasthan Government Handicrafts Emporium and Khadi Bhandar.
How to Get there
Air : Nearest airports are Udaipur and Ahmedabad.
Rail : The nearest railway station is Abu Road (29-km) situated on Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Ajmer-Jaipur-Delhi route. From Abu Road one can take a taxi, jeep or bus to Mount Abu.
Road : Mount Abu is linked with Udaipur and Ahmedabad by road. We would provide you all India tourist permit vehicles for the local transportations and also for the intercity drives too.