A secret gem of a place

Abu Travel Blog

 › entry 29 of 33 › view all entries

A morning coach journey continuing west to Mount Abu.  The landscape getting ever more increasingly dry and desert like with reducing amounts of foliage. However once passed Abu Road, the climb up to the mountain town of Mount Abu provided a complete change with suddenly a mass of palm trees and odd shaped rock formations.  The temperature still very warm despite the altitude.

Mount Abu is a big holiday (especially honeymoon) destination for Indian couples but seemingly off the backpacker route for most Westerners.  The main attraction in the Jain temples that are "the finest examples in India".  The complex of 5 temples, 5km out of the town don't disappoint.  The whole complex is made of white marble, dating from between 11th and 16th century. The two biggest temples (11th and 13th century) provide the most intricate carving I have seen in any stonework (apparently the masons were paid by the weight of dust created by their carving).

  Not a square centimetre on the walls, pillars or ceilings left untouched with delicate and stunning designs.  The Indians have done well to keep this place under wraps for themselves as I was blown away by their beauty.  The only detraction was the groups of school parties that saw me as more of an attraction and several times got surrounded by 30 off them with random questions.  They had pretty good English but I didn't like their cockiness and often made a comment in Hindi behind my back that left the group laughing.  What can you do but smile and carry on?

I walked the scenic road back down to the town with plenty of photo opportunities and basked in the glorious weather.  Unable to find a decent restaurant in town and even the Rough Guide recommendations only good quality fast food outlets.
  Hopefully this is not the future of Indian food.  I was in and out of the restaurant in 30 minutes and unable to find any bar for a beer to people watch, I went to the English Wine Shop (I challenged this wanting to see some English wine, but they only offered me whiskey) and bought a beer to take back to my hostal and watch a film. The town clearly trying to be western with hotel names like Hotel Hilltone and Hotel Sheratone.

I met up with Richard and Laura the following morning for a final trek for this trip.  Another beautiful day as we made a short jeep journey out of town to the bottom of the mountain.  Our guide explained that the reason for the odd rock formations is that the whole mountain formed out of volcanic rock that used to be under water causing the rocks to be shaped in to their current form.
  We set off uphill and quickly rewarded with views looking down at the town.  As with most mountains, for every peak conquered, another peak comes on to the horizon and we continued on up to the next.  Each look out providing better views of the range of rocky outcrops towering over the town and valley. 

After a number of leisurely climbs that allowed for many water breaks we hit the ultimate peak.  Not the best with heights at the best of times, I was torn between awe at the stunning view and stomach churning vertigo as we were rewarded with a slab of granite that looked out over a 1500 foot sheer drop down to the Rajasthan plain that otherwise continued for 100km without another hill in sight.

  Thankfully the slope of the stone lent inwards so I scrambled to within 5 foot of the edge before my nerve failed.  Laura and the guide put me to shame teetering on the edge. The trek didn't provide any wildlife spotting regardless of the advertised sloth bears, but the hike still a good little trip.

Met up with laura and Richard again in the evening where we all went for the South India speciality Dosas (a kind of fried savoury pancake) and belatedly discovered Raita (natural yoghurt - not sure why they needed to serve it with curry powder on top though !).  Established that they were heading on a similar route for the next week so agreed to head off to Jodhpur together on the same bus tomorrow.

Mount Abu a nice interlude between the fort cities in Rajasthan.  Even better to have some good company for the next leg of the trip.


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photo by: Sads79