After Bikaner it was times for us to experience to leave the desert, and relax in Mount Abu.
The leg of our journey from Bikaner to Mount Abu was the longest among other intercity journeys in Rajasthan. Jammu Tawi-Ahmedabad Exp is a long distance train, with both our boarding and alighting stations not being the terminal station. The train was about 2 hrs late at Bikaner and arrived at 2:30 am instead of 12:45 am, and was to halt for only 10 mins. If this was not enough, on boarding a bitter situation was awaiting me. As is the norm in all long distance trains, our berths and luggage space were occupied by a family from Punjab. They were extremely displeased to understand that I will not ‘adjust’ by shifting to another berth with my toddler son and wife being granted one of my reserved berths. After around 30 mins of stand-off and me almost threatening to pull out their luggage to the walkway, they withdrew. Remaining night was peaceful.
We reached Abu Road at around 11:30 am (around 1 hr late). Abu Road is the nearest rail head to Mount Abu. It is an important stop on the main Indian Railways line between Delhi and Ahmedabad. Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) buses and cars are available to reach Mount Abu, around 27 kms away. Mount Abu is a popular hill station in the Aravalli Ranges. The mountain forms a distinct rocky plateau on the boundary of Thar Dessert, is evergreen and home to many lakes, streams and waterfalls. The mountain has a long connection with spirituality, as it is said sage Vashishtha retired here and performed yajna. There are several Archaeological Sites in the hills. The hill station was cooler than I had expected after spending a summer week in Rajasthan. There was a pleasant chill in the air even in that April afternoon. Mount Abu is a small town, with most of it extending between the bus stand and Nakki Lake. The road connecting the town to the lake is dotted with stores, hotels and restaurants. One has several sightseeing mode option. RSRTC buses conduct sightseeing at nominal rates, self-driven two wheelers are available on hire (Rs 200-300 per day), jeeps (Rs 1200 full and Rs 400 per member) and cars are also available. Since we reached after noon, the first evening we spent visiting Nakki Lake and surrounding market. It is a large lake surrounded by hills and the central attraction of Mount Abu town. There is rock shaped like a toad, called Toad Rock, on a hill behind the lake. The rock is a popular lookout point. There is option to enjoy the lake from the shore, on paddle boats or from inside of giant balloons! Photographers flock the area for snaps in traditional Rajasthani attire. The place is very lively and colorful in the evening. Due to its proximity to Gujarat, during weekend lot of tourist can be seen from Gujarat. The restaurants and food joints here serve food to suit taste buds of both the state.
I booked ourselves for sightseeing with RSRTC on next day. Night was even cooler and pleasant, making us like the place even more.