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Mount Abu in India


¤ Mount Abu a Hilly Resort of Rajasthan

The Aravalli hills stretching from Delhi to Gujarat reach their highest point here in a mountain, atop which is a picturesque plateau. This is Abu in Sirohi district, a lush green summer resort and the only hill station in Rajasthan. Mount Abu has a somewhat steep incline, with ravines cut into its sides, filled with trees, bushes and beautiful birds. It is a detached hill, and on the plateau on the summit are granite rocks of fantastic shapes, the space between them covered with greenery. The Hill of Wisdom, The Saint's Pinnacle, The Rajput Olympus, the Mon Capitalia of Pliny. Yes all these are titles for just one place – Mount Abu.


Travel Guide to Mount Abu Temple in Rajasthan, India¤ The Numerous Legend Associated With The Town

This town is associated with legends from both Jainism and Hinduism, and is supposed to have been home to no less than 330 million different gods and goddesses. There are a number of places on this hill that are believed to have affiliations with various gods, goddesses, saints and sages associated with Jainism and Hinduism. On the hill is a place called Devangan or the courtyard of the gods. The great Hindu sage Vasistha is believed to have performed a sacrifice here which led to the birth of four agnikula (born from fire) Rajput warrior clans to protect the earth from demons. The Jains believe that Lord Mahavira, the last tirthankar (fordmaker), paid a visit to Mount Abu before attaining salvation. A temple with the idol of Lord Rikhabdev, one of the tirthankars, built by his son, is also believed to have existed here in ancient times.


¤ Famous As An Archaeological Site

For centuries Mount Abu has been a pilgrimage site. Till about the 11th century it was an important Vaishnav and Shiva pilgrim center but today it is more readily associated with Jainism. Its most remarkable attractions are its beautifully carved Jain temples, which were built between the 11th and 15th centuries. Another site of archeological interest close to Mount Abu is the Achalgarh fort built in 1452-53AD, and is a standing testimony of the exciting political history of this region.


Quick bytes

Altitude :
1,220 meters (4,003 feet)
Distance from Udaipur :
185km (115 miles)
Population :
17,000
Area :
25 sq. Km
Best time to visit :
March-June and September-November.


¤ Renowned As A Hill Station

Mount Abu is not just about religion and legends; it has also served as an important hill station for the various kings that ruled Rajasthan, and for the British. In 1845AD Mount Abu was leased by the British and was developed as a hill resort ("a sort of Shimla for Rajputana") to escape the heat and dust of the Rajasthan plains. Many maharajas and princes like that of Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Alwar, Tonk and Dholpur built their summer resorts in Mount Abu. With all these maharajas in one place Mount Abu must have been a real happening place for high society. We know of this waggish story about a maharaja who hosted a dinner to which he pointedly did not invited Maraja Jai Singh the Maharaja of Alwar. Maharaja Jai Singh bought up all the food supplies for miles around, forcing the dinner to be canceled. He then added insult to injury by inviting everybody to his place instead.


¤ Rich in Vegetation

The only hill station in Rajasthan, Mount Abu is still a very popular resort. Owing to its good rainfall the region has a variety of rich vegetation of which Flame of the Forest is the most notable, making the area look like a gigantic garden.


¤ Summer Festival Attraction

Adding to the already mentioned attraction is the Summer Festival held every year in the month of Aashadh (June). The picturesque landscape with its steep rock surfaces, tranquil lake and pleasant climate make Mount Abu an ideal location for such fun and frolic. The three-day festival is a feast of folk and classical music and a window to the tribal life and culture of Rajasthan. The festival begins with the singing of a ballad which is followed by Gair, Ghoomar and Dhap folk dances which enthrall the spectators. Sporting events such as the boat race on Nakki lake add variety to the festival. The Sham-e-Qawwali is a much awaited musical extravaganza, as renowned singers of the form popularly known as qawwali, gather here. The grand finalé of the festival is a display of dazzling fireworks which adds to the tourist’s delight.


¤ Bhils & Nagas Tribal Dance

Amongst the tribal cultures that you get a glimpse of at this festival are those of the Bhils and the Nagas. Both have a rich cultural history and have contributed considerably to the development of music and dance.


¤ Ghoomar Dance

The Bhils of Rajasthan have a variety of dances which correspond to the agricultural cycle. The Ghoomar dance is the very life-blood of Bhil culture. Performed in all seasons, it is always accompanied by songs of love, glory or defeat. Men and women move in a circle; one half of this circle constitutes the men and the other half of women. This ghoomar dance should be clearly distinguished from the dance of the same name prevalent in urban Rajasthan. The ghoomar dance of the Bhils is an energetic and lively performance while the other is a polite social dance of urban women. Gair is a religious dance-drama of the Bhils. It is performed by the men in the months of sharavana and bhadra (July-August). The dance revolves around the worship of the deity Bhairavanath. The chief worshipper is the bhoya who goes into a trance while dancing; others dance in a circle around a trishul (trident) while keeping time with the parat and thali (metal plates). Many different type of dresses are worn by the dancers, representing different characters. In form and style this is a ritual dance-drama, or rather an occupational dance. In essence, this is a fertility rite (see Haryana Tradition & Lifestyle.)


¤ Bhils Carved Sculptures

The Bhils also offer talent in the field of sculpture. The sculptures by these tribes are not beautifully carved masterpieces, but are interesting, nevertheless. In rural India there is a widespread ritual of offering sculptured clay figures to appease local gods and goddesses to thank them for a favour or to seek their benevolence. The Bhil tribes also place their trust in these votive figures, usually of animals. The Bhil potters mould distinctive clay horses, camels, elephants, tigers and bulls that are then offered to the village deity or to a revered animal itself such as the tiger. Set down in the sacred grove that always lies in a secluded spot near the settlement, the terracotta animals are clustered together in a jumble of new and old, all eventually disintegrating and returning to the earth in their turn.


¤ The Legendary Tale

Once upon a time there was this Rishi (Saint) Gautama who had a pupil named Uttanka. Uttanka was very devoted to the Rishi and the bond between the two was so intense that Uttanka stayed on to serve his scholar long after his formal studies were over. One day while performing his daily chores Uttanka noticed grey hair stuck to a bunch of wood that he had carried on his head. It was at this point that he realized that he was growing old and should move on to the next stage of his life, that is, marriage and children. He went to his scholar to take leave and inquired as to what he would want for gurudakshina (an offering by a pupil to his scholar in return of the education he had received). Rishi Gautam sent him to his wife Ahalya who asked Uttanka to bring her the earrings worn by Madayanti. This was no simple task for Madayanti was the wife of Saudasa who had been cursed to become a man-eating devil. Uttanka obliged by the promise made to his scholar went to the palace were Saudasa lived with his wife and the expected did happen. Saudasa cornered him. But at heart the devil not such a bad guy after all and when Uttanka explained the purpose of his visit and promised to return, Saudasa relented. He not only set Uttanka free but also ordered his wife to part with her earrings. Madayanti did as she was told and warned Uttanka that a certain naga (snake) was also desirous of possessing the ear-rings.

 Mount Abu IndiaOn his way back Uttanka became hungry and could not resist the temptation of stopping by a ber tree (Zizyphus maudrentiana) to collect some fruits. Leaving the earrings on the ground Uttanka climbed up the tree, not realizing that the naga Madayanti had warned him about this act. As soon as Uttanka was up the tree the naga picked up the ear-rings and fled into his den. Uttanka came down and helplessly dug into the hole with a piece of dry wood but in vain. Indra (the god of Rain) who was watching the desperate attempt by Uttanka to recover the earrings took pity on him and with one stroke of his bolt made a huge chasm into which Uttanka could enter and reclaim his precious artifacts. All went well for Uttanka but this episode left behind the enormous gorge in the ground.


¤ The Mythical Formation of Mount Abu

As per a legend Mount Abu came into existence when Nandi, the wish fulfilling bull that accompanied Hindu sage Vasistha, was trapped in this deep chasm created by Indra and could not free herself. The sage appealed to the gods for help, who sent Arbuda, a celestial cobra. Arbuda brought a huge rock on his hood and dropped it in a nearby lake. The water from the lake was displaced into the gorge and the holy cow was saved as it floated up. The spot came to be known as Arbudachala after the mighty serpent Arbuda.

The Padam Purana (ancient Vedic scripture) also mentions this story in a slightly different way. According to the Padam Purana, it was Saraswati, the divine stream, which flooded the pit. Vasistha then approached the great Himalaya and asked him to fill the deep gorge permanently to avoid any future mishaps. The youngest son of Himalaya, with the assistance of Arbuda, the mighty snake, did the needful. Still another version of this story is that Arbuda carried the cow on his back to safety. The bottom line is that Nandi was saved and we have Mount Abu to cherish.

The name `Abu’ is variously described as another name for the son of Himalayas, a corruption of Arbuddha (hill of wisdom), or Arbuda, the name of the legendary serpent. Abul Fazal (Akbar’s chronicler) has mentioned in the Akbarnama (a historical record written during Akbar's time) that the old name of Abu was Arbuda Achal – Arbuda being the name of a spirit who, disguised as a woman, shows way to the wanderers, and achal meaning mountain.


¤ Legendary Origin of the Warrior Clans

Origin of Parshurama
The legend has it that Parshurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, killed the Kshatriya (warrior) caste 21 times over to avenge the death of his father who was murdered by some kshatriyas. Great disorder soon ensued from the lack of warriors and the want of a strong arm. Mankind did not have a protector it could turn to, no one to fight the demons. The gods were determined upon the recreation of the kshatriyas. They came to Mount Abu to ask sage Vasistha to restore the situation and regenerate the warrior race. It was then that Vasistha sat at here at Mount Abu and performed great yagna (fire scarifice) to create warriors who would rid the earth of the demons.

Origin of Paramara and Abu Dhar
The fire foundation or the agnikund was purified with water from the river Ganges, sacrificial rites were performed and after a protracted debate it was resolved that Indra, the king of gods, should initiate the work of Recreation. Indra made a figure with grass, purified it with the water from Ganges and threw it into the sacred fire and chanted mantras. A figure slowly emerged from the flame, bearing a mace in his right hand, and exclaiming, "Mar! Mar!" (kill, kill). He was called Paramara, and Abu,Dhar and Ujjain were assigned to him as a territory

Origin of Solanki and Anhulpur Patum
Next it was Bramha (the Creator of the universe) who made an image and threw it into the fire pit. What emerged was a figure armed with a sword in one hand, the Vedas in the other, wearing a sacred amulet around his neck. He was named Solanki or Chalukya, and Anhulpur Patum was appointed to him. Rudra (a prototype of Shiva associated with Storm, aka the Howler) formed the third. The image was sprinkled with the water of the Ganges, and thrown into the pit. On incantations being read, a black ill-favored figure arose, armed with a bow. His foot slipped when he set out to battle the demons, and so he was called the Pratihara, and placed as the guardian of the gates. He had the Nouangul Marusthali (nine habitations of the desert) assigned to him.

Origin OF Chauhans
The fourth clan was formed by Vishnu (the Preserver of the universe), and an image bearing his likeness issued forth from the flames. Like Vishnu, this figure had four arms, each having a separate weapon and was called Chauhana or the `four armed’. The gods bestowed their blessing upon him and gave him Makavati as a territory.
James Tod, in his Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan, gives the following description of what followed: "The Dytes [deities] were watching the rites, and two of their leaders were close to the fire foundation; but the work of regeneration being over, the new-born warriors were sent against the infidels, when a desperate encounter ensued. But as fast as the blood of the demons was shed, young demons arose; when the four tutelary divinities, attendant on each newly created race, drank up the blood, and thus stopped the multiplication of evil. These were Asapurana of Chohan [Chauhana], Gajun Mata of the Purihar, Keonj Mata of the Solanki [and] Sanchair Mata of the Pramara. When the Dytes were slain, shouts of joy rent the sky; ambrosial showers were shed from heaven; and the gods drove their cars [mounts or vehicles] about the firmament, exulting at the victory thus achieved."
"of all the 36 royal races [says Chund, the great bard of the Chohans], the Agnikula is the greatest – the rest were born of women; these were created by the Brahmins."
and this is how the four agnikula Rajput clans – Chauhans, Paramaras, Pratiharas and Solankis originated. The descendants of these warriors were to rule a large part of India.






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