The less-travelled places of Mount Abu

H S Manjunatha makes a mention of lesser-known places in Abu that are worth a visit for a nature lover.

Dr Kota Shivarama Karanth in his travelogue ‘Aboovinda Baraamakke’ (first published in 1950) says, “True, to the one who travelled in the Rajaputana desert, Mount Abu is Amaravathi. Cool air, winding tar road, plenty of mango, bamboo and palm trees, small streams of water here and there.” Sun and clouds were playing hide and seek when he was trying to photograph near Delwara temple. Most of the tourists are from Rajputana, some are from Gujarat. Karanth was fascinated by their dress, the headgear in particular and also their moustache!My visit happened in March. Now the picture is different. Tourists from other states and even foreign countries are found in good numbers.

If you want to see nature, you have to get away from the town. Salgaon is about 5 km from the town near the Gyan Sarovar Campus of Brahma Kumaris. It was just a day after ‘Holi ka Dahan’. We came across a procession. Leaving the two-wheeler at a spot beyond the village, we walked towards a strange rock formation. A checkdam is proposed to be built here.

Temple treat

Achalgarh is about 11 km from the town. People go there to see Adeshwar Jain Mandir and Achaleswar Mahadev Temple. But a little below and away, around Mandakini Kund you get a rustic vista. Three stone statues of buffaloes with a hole in their belly! I get the story only later: demons used to trouble sage Vasishta in the form of buffaloes. Raja Adipala Paramar is supposed to have killed them with one arrow!

Scenic landscape

Nature seemed to be undisturbed and unspoilt here. Reason - the place is sparsely populated even now. The shops are only on the way to the temples. The scenic landscapes include gigantic blocks of rocks in weird shapes, an array of coniferous trees, flowering shrubs, lovely lakes and the cool climes’ boasts a brochure. But the lakes are looking more artificial, small shrines are coming up in the rocks, quite a few trees have made way for tourism.

A V Pandya’s ‘Abu in Bombay state’ (1952) is an interesting study. Apart from tracing the history from Rigvedic times, he analyses the transfer of Sirohi State. By 1951, of the 17,000 urban population of Abu Road Taluka, nearly 8000 were immigrants and from Jaipur, Alwar and other areas. Earlier the state had two physiographic divisions: Sirohi tract and Abu area. In 1845, the Maharaja of Sirohi leased out land to the British and the hill station was created. By 1847, 60 British families had settled.

Rajput royal families followed building Bikaner, Bharatpur and Jaipur palaces. In 1950, Sirohi went to Rajasthan and Abu to Bombay. In 1952, Abu was restored to Rajasthan. Pandya says that Abu is culturally more linked to Gujarat than Rajasthan. While the Mughal governors of Jodhpur had looted Sirohi, the Rajasthani immigrants lent money to the farmers and tribals here and gained an upper hand. While travelling to Abu Road from Udaipur via Pindwada and Sirohi Road, I got an inkling of tribal life.

My train journey from Abu Road to Falna, on the way to Ranakpur added another aspect. But Mount Abu is almost bereft of rural culture. While coming down the hill,we saw some old ladies climbing up. My friend told me that they will not take food till they reach Achalgarh and offer prayers to Mahadev. One ‘Aranya Village’ has been created! In the shops near Achalgrah there was an advertisement about a magic pen but ethnic handicraft items were to be seen only rarely.

Karanth calls it ‘Ooty of Rajaputan’. He found people carrying cane props. Some told there were lions in the hills, but all he found were monkeys that too, near a Anjanaya temple midway. A group from Karnataka which visited in October 2004 had come across groups of migrating farmers in frock coats and with sheep on the Chittorgrah - Abu road.

Mount Abu is the only hill station in Rajasthan, the highest peak of Aravallis Gurushikhar (1772 mts above MSL) is here. According to one legend, Serpent Arbuda (from which 'Aba is derived) saved Nandi from a chasm. Now the question is who will rescue the rustic Abu from tourism onslaught? I recall my visits to Kotagiri and Kodai. Narrow roads, small vehicles, tourists who have concern for the local culture - these do not disturb much. But a boom of hotels, shops and fun-lovers can cause damage - although gradually.

No comments:

Popular Posts