Friday, January 08, 2016

Mount Abu

Mount Abu is an amazing and a pathetic place in equal measure.

For a series of low, unimpressive hills that rise out of the plains of Rajasthan and Gujarat Mount Abu earns a rather disproportionate share of our awe. It is a place described in the Puranas as "Arbudaranya", it figures prominently in the creation myths of Rajputs and Gujjars. It is home the Dilwara Temples - perhaps one of the most intricately carved marble buildings in India. Escavations from historical sites across Abu span the past two millennia.

These days, Mount Abu is better known as the nearest "Hill Station" for all the residents of Rajasthan and Gujarat. This simply means that the hill attracts all kinds of riff-raff looking for a quick holiday destination where they can toss out all their garbage - especially liquor bottles and chips-packets.

Granite walls "scooped out"?

Despite the present state of affairs, the place is full of fascinating things that have hardly been written about. The rock formations all over Mount Abu is something to behold. Unlike the Deccan Plateau where you see large boulders balancing in improbable places, here you have rock faces that look as though they have been carved by a giant walking around with an icecream scoop!

Achalgarh, Mount Abu

Also amazing is the way animals have been honored in the temples here. At the Dilwara Temples, there is a whole gallery of magnificent elephants in polished marble. These aparently were built to honor the animals that lugged tonnes of marble up these hills.

Less celebrated but even more touching is the sight of three water buffalos carved out of black granite, standing guard on a water tank full of their brethren in flesh and blood. Who built these temples? If you ask the local guide, he will tell you some cock-and-bull story about a king who killed three demons who took the form of bufallos.

Three Buffalos
There is certainly a lot more to the ruins than meets the eye. Is anybody studying them seriously? How long will we continue to cover our ignorance with tales of Gods and Demons?


- Geology -


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