Oasis of Rajasthan
Mount Abu is in true sense an oasis in the middle of the Great Indian Desert. One would not expect there to be a hill station in the vast aridity that Rajasthan mostly is, but Mount Abu comes as a breath of fresh air with a much-appreciated lushness amidst it all.
Nearing the border of Gujarat, the refreshing presence of Mount Abu spreads for a length of 22km and width of 9km, with its highest peak Guru Shikhar at a 1722m height above the mean sea level. Mount Abu is often referred to as the ‘oasis in the desert’ for how the slopes of the mountain are home to several waterfalls, lakes, rivers and even forests.
If you look through the ancient Indian texts, then you will find the mentions of Mount Abu as Arbudaranya. It is believed that the great sage Vasishtha retired here for a while following a feud with Vishwamitra. One legend also says that this is where a serpent named Arbuda saved the life of Lord Shiva’s biggest devotee Nandi Bull, after whom the place is named.
At present, Mount Abu is a tempting leisure destination, set much apart from the rusticity of its surroundings. The slopes of Mount Abu are dotted with posh colonial-style houses, which clearly bear reminiscence of the British era. The spaces between these westernised holiday resorts and hotels are filled with quaint hillside and rural abodes of the local tribal people.
Guru Shikhar here is not only the highest point of Mount Abu but of the entire Aravalli Range. From the crest, one can get the most beautiful panoramic view of the town beneath. The peak is dedicated to Dattatreya, the son of sage Atri and Anasuya gifted by the Holy Trinity as per myth. Thus this peak is important to the Vaishanavites.
At the heart of Mount Abu, Lake Nakki shimmers in the sun with its romantic ambience and tranquil waters, perfect for a boat ride and mountain gazing. This is where Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were immersed after his death and the Gandhi Ghat was constructed by the lake.