Mount Abu

Situated at an average height of 1219 metres above sea level, Mount Abu is a famous hill station in the Aravalli Range in the Sirohi district of Rajasthan. Guru Shikhar is the highest peak on this mountain at a height of 1722 metres above the sea level. Since it has many rivers flowing through it and ample waterfalls, lakes and forests, it is often called the oasis in a desert. It is the only hill station in Rajasthan. It is also the summer capital of Rajasthan. More than three million tourists from the world over visit Mount Abu to enjoy its natural beauty and it makes a fabulous holiday destination for people of all ages.

How to Reach Mount Abu-:

 

  • Road Travel – It is well connected all the major towns in northern and western India. It is 222 Kms from Ahmedabad, 235 Kms from Jodhpur and 156 Kms from Udaipur.
  • Railways – Abu Road is the nearesy railway station, 29 Kms away and one can hire a taxi or jeep or board a bus from Abu Road to Mount Abu.
  • Air Travel – Maharana Pratap Udaipur Airport, Dabok is the nearest airport and it is 207 Kms away. Taxi are available to reach Mount Abu.

 

History

There are many stories about Mount Abu. One popular storey says that the name Mount Abu has been derived from Mount Arbud, which is the youngest son of the Himalaya who is believed to have flooded a gorge in the area with water with the help of a snake to save the sacred bull of Lord Shiva, Nandi.
Another legend says that Mount Abu was earlier ruled by the Chauhans and it was considered as a summer home by this royal family. The Britishers also made Mount Abu their summer retreat to escape from the dust and heat of Rajasthan. Apart from this, Mount Abu has served as a home to many rishis and munis. Rishi Vashishtha was the most popular among them and it is believed that he performed a fire sacrifice (Yagna) in a fire-pit and created Agnikul Rajput clans to protect the earth from demons.

Climate

Mount Abu has a short summer season from April to mid-June with the maximun temperature dipping to 36 °C and one feels comfortable in cotton clothes. The geographical features facilitate a fair amount of rainfall during the monsoons. It gets pretty cold during the winters and heavy woollens are required. One can visit Mount Abu is from February – June and from October-December.

Places to Visit Mount Abu-:

  1. Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 290 square kilometres. It is located on the Aravalli Range which is one of the oldest mountain ranges of India. It was adjudged as a sanctuary in the year 1960.
  2. Adhar Devi Temple – Located three kilometres north of Mount Abu, This famous temple is situated in a cave. One needs to climb 365 stairs to reach to the top of the temple. It is also referred to as Arbuda Devi Temple. It is dedicated to Goddess Durga.
  3. Shri Raghunathji Temple – This famous Vaishnavaite temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu and is worth mentioning. It is located very near to lake Nakki. It is believed that a visit to this temple cures all pains of the devotee.
  4. • Dattatreya Temple – Situated 15 Kms away from Mount Abu. this temple is also devoted to Lord Vishnu. It is located on the Guru Shikhar peak. One can get a scintillating view of Mount Abu from here.
  5. Delwara Jain Temples – Situated 2½ Kms from Mount Abu, the Delwara temples are a complex of five temples. The Delwara Jain Temples are made of white marble. They were built between 11th – 13th century AD. The Vimal Vasahi Temple (Shri Adinathji Temple) is the oldest temple. It was built by Vimal Shah in 1021 AD. All the temples have intricate carvings and designs.
  6. The Achalgarh Fort – The Achalgarh Fort, which was built by Rana Kumba in the 15th century encloses the splendid Jain temples. The Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple is 2500 years old. This is the only temple in the world where the great toe of Lord Shiva is idolized.

Mount Abu has state-of-the-art tourist facilities. It is one of the top ten recommended places to visit in India.

Jaisalmer Fort – The Golden Fortress

Panorama of the Golden Fort of Jaisalmer, RajasthanJaisalmer Fort – The Golden Fortress

The glorious Jaisalmer Fort is located in Rajasthan. It is believed to be one of the largest forts of the world. Rao Jaisal, a Bhati Rajput ruler built it in the year 1156 AD and thats how it is named after him. The fort is located on the Trikuta Hill, surrounded by the great Thar Desert, which has witnessed many a battles. The Fort is also referred to as ‘Sonar Qila’ or ‘Golden Fort’ due to the immense use of yellow sandstone. It is one of the most stunning monuments located right at the heart of City in Rajasthan. The beauty of the fort takes you by surprize and leaves lasting footprints on your mind. It deserves a special mention. The best time to visit Jaisalmer is from October to March.

Climatic conditions – Jaisalmer is typically a desert and has an arid climate. It gets really hot during the summers from April – August. In the winters, it feels pretty cool during the day and pleasant at night. At times, it might also get chilly. Being a desert, the rainfall is negligible.

 How To Reach Jaisalmer -:

  • By Road – Many deluxe and semi-deluxe buses are available from Jaipur, Ajmer & Bikaner to Jaisalmer. The inter-state buses connect Jaisalmer to other cities.
  • By Air – The nearest airport is in Jodhpur and one can take a taxi from here. Jaisalmer is 285 Kms from Jodhpur. Jodhpur is also connected to Jaipur and Delhi by air.
  • By Rail – Railway station is one of the significant stations of Western Railways. It is well-connected to all cities of India.

 The Story Behind Jaisalmer Fort

The city played a key role in trade with countries like Arabia, Persia, Africa and Egypt during the medieval period. There are three layers of walls in the fort. The lower layer or the outer-most layer is made of solid blocks of stone and it strengthens the unconsolidated fragments of the Trikuta Hill. The middle or second wall serves as a boundary all around the fort. This is how the fort is protected by three walls. It is believed that the Rajput warriors had once thrown boiling hot water and oil along with solid blocks of rock at the enemies, who became entrapped between the middle and outer most walls.

In the 13th century, Alaudin Khilji captured the fort and held it for nine years. Many Rajput women committed Jauhar during this period. In 1541, the second battle took place in this fort when it was attacked by Humayun, the mughal emperor.

 Important Places To Visit-:

  1. Raj Mahal (The Royal palace) – Constructed in 1500 AD, it is one of the most spectacular structures, in terms of architecture. It is surrounded by beautiful green lawns and graceful gardens. It has seven storeys. It is best known for its lattice work. Members of the royal family used to live here.
  2. Jain temples – These were built between the 12th and 15th century. They are devoted to the Jain hermits (Tirthankars)- Shambhavdev ji and Rikhabdev ji. They have been built in the Delwara style and have human and animal figures carved on the walls.  These temples are also made from yellow sandstone.
  3. The Laxminath Temple- The Laxminath Temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi. Tourists and devotees flock to this temple in large numbers to view this marvelous temple which has a spartan look. It has a beautiful entrance which has been decorated with silver framework. This temple was built in 1494 during the reign of Rao Lunkaran. Maharaja Ganga Singhji later renovated it but the deity of Vishnu and Lakshmi were installed by a Brahmin – Sen Pal Shakdvipi.
  4.  4 Massive Gateways – These gates have been named Hava Pol, Ganesh Pol, Akshaye Pol and Suraj Pol. The Akshaye Pol which is situated on the eastern side of the fort is the main entrance. Suraj Pol which is across the road was built by Maharawal Bhim. It is surrounded by 99 heavy bastions, out of which 92 were built between 1633-47. The Suraj Pol adorned with an image of the Sun and Lord Ganesha. The Hawa Pol or wind Gate is a huge gateway which was built in the 17th century. It is connected to the palace and a courtyard which is called Dussedra Chowk. Another massive gateway which is also embellished with a figure of Lord Ganesha is the Ganesha Pol.
  5. Merchant Havelis  – The wealthy merchants of North India used to build large houses often called Havelis and decorated them with carvings of sandstone. There are many havelis which are more than one hundred years old. Some havelis have been converted into museums, while there are others where the original families still live. One such haveli is the Vyas Haveli of the 15th century and another is Shree Nath Palace. Many of these havelis have innumerable rooms and many floors. These havelis were designed by Muslim and Hindu craftsmen.

 

The Jaisalmer Fort is the only fort in the world, where people still live. It is also believed that at one point of time, the entire population of  Jaisalmer had stayed in this fort. Due to the increasing population, some people shifted outside and found space at the tip of Trikuta Hill. This magnificent fort is a must visit since it gives a glimpse of Rajasthan’s rich cultural heritage

Amber Fort – The Jewel of Rajasthan

Amber or amer fort jaipurAmer Fort – The Jewel of Rajasthan

An excursion to Rajasthan would be worthless without visiting the beautiful Amber Fort. It derives its name from the mother goddess – Amba. Located 11 kms from Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan, the Amber Fort is a magnificent fort built by Raja Man Singh in 1592. It is also called Amer Fort. It is a very old fort, built of red sandstone and marble. This fort consists of various structures such as ‘Sheesh Mahal’ – The mirror palace, Diwan- e-aam – Hall for public audience, Diwan-e-khas – Hall for private audience and Sukh Mahal – The hall for pleasure. Influences of muslim as well as hindu architecture can be seen in this fort. The Rajput kings used to live in this fort with their families.

The Story of Amber

During the medieval period, Amer used to be called Dhundar and the Kachwahas ruled it from 1037 – 1727 AD. After this, the capital was moved from Dhundar to Jaipur. Raja Man Singh, who was a commander in Akbar’s Army built it and it was later expanded by Raja Jai Singh I. Many of the old structures have been demolished but this splendid creation remained intact against all odds.

Amer Fort Entrance Layout of the Fort

There are four parts of the Fort and each of them has a separate entrance to it. The ‘Suraj Pol’ is the main entry and it leads to the main courtyard – The Jaleb Chowk. This entrance is in the east, hence the name ‘ Suraj Pol’ wherein Suraj means Sun and Pol means Gate. The armies used to hold victory parades in this courtyard. The Royal women used to watch them through latticed screens. This gate was open only to the Royal blood. Being the main entry, it was always guarded.

The Sila Devi Temple

The Sila Devi Temple is located to the right of the Jaleb Chowk. This impressive temple has a carving of Lord Ganesha, made out of one single piece of coral stone.The small temple has a diety flanked by two lions. The Rajput Maharajas used to worship and perform their rites and rituals here. During the Navratras (Nine day festival), sacrifices were performed in this temple. However, in 1975 the practice of animal sacrifice(Bali – cutting of a buffalo), was abolished.

iskcon devotees in amberDiwan-e-aam & Diwan-e-khas

The Diwan-e-aam, the second courtyard, which is the hall for public audience is a huge hall which is open from three sides. In this hall, the king used to address the needs of the public. The Diwan-e-khas or hall for private audience is a hall decorated with fine mosaic work. This was reserved for the king’s special guests and dignitaries.

The Sukh Niwas

The Sukh Niwas is located opposite the Diwan-e-khas has a sandalwood door. A water pipe is running through a channel in this hall, which helps to keep it cool. The Sukh Niwas or the hall for pleasure derives its name from the fact that kings used to spend time with their queens and mistresses in this hall.

The Sheesh Mahal

The Sheesh Mahal or the Palace of Mirrors is the most popular and beautiful part of Amber Fort. It is a breath-taking view. This hall is entirely made-up of glass and has some beautiful pieces of art on the walls, which are also madeup of glass. In those times the queens were stopped from sleeping under the open sky, so the king asked the architects to design a hall in such a way that one could see stars all around.

The Kesar Kyari

The Kesar Kyaari or Mughal Gardens , which was built by Mirza Raja Jai Singh adds more scenic beauty to the fort. Kesar is the hindi word for saffron. The kings used to plant saffron in star-shaped sunken flower beds.

Amber Fort – A pleasure to the eyes

The Amber Fort is a ravishing structure with exquisite architectural designs and majestic gardens. One can also enjoy an elephant ride at this fort.

All the images on this page are property of Ananta Vrindavan.