Mountains & hilly regions have always fascinated me with their pristine beauty and grandeur. Standing tall as a testimony to the majesty and glory of the Creator, they seem to be shrouded in mystery that begs exploration, whether you are an introvert who just loves a great viewing spot or the adventurous kind more into trekking or even mountianeering. Given the choice between a beach or a hill station, though hard-pressed, I would choose a hill station. In all of my travels in India, a visit to one or two hill stations, has always been on the itinerary. So even when we were in Gujrat to attend a friend’s wedding, a visit to the nearest hill station in the neighboring state of Rajasthan, was inevitable.
Mt. Abu is the only hill station in the desert state of Rajasthan, situated in the Aravalli Hills, the oldest fold mountains of India. Just like the destination, the journey to any hill station is always a thrilling one. We started our early morning drive from Ahmedabad, 167 km to go. Driving through the plains, just watching life go by as you pass through populated areas and the serenity and calmness when its just the highway, to the villages and fields in the rural areas, long drives are always beautiful. About 3 hours later we entered the state of Rajasthan and took the bypass road towards Mt. Abu. This area is more green than the rest of Rajasthan as we are passing close through the Aravalli range. About half an hour later, we start the actual scary and steep ascent on what is known as Abu Road. With hairpin bends and narrow 2 way road, I am at the edge of my seat, taking in the view and praying for our safety. After a thrilling 45 minutes ascent on this road, we finally arrive in Mt. Abu.
We had decided to stay in The Jaipur House, a heritage hotel built by the Maharaja of Jaipur in 1897. It was an excellent choice since we were staying for only 2 days and the best thing about this hotel is its location. Perched atop a hillock, it’s the best place in town in terms of the view it offers of the Nakki lake & the plateau below. So a quiet short stay, lounging in its terrace garden restaurant and enjoying the view was just what we wanted.
In addition, the overall look and feel of this place was a treat in itself. The architecture is a fascinating blend of Mughal and colonial style. A lot of pictures adorn the walls and vintage furniture adds to the beautiful and neat decor. The staff were friendly and welcoming. We instantly felt relaxed as we walked through the peaceful gardens, up the stairs lined with rose bushes giving a heady scent into the air, and to our room in the interior part of the building.
Its a 3 star accommodation with small but comfortable rooms and moderate amenities. It was clean and pleasant.
We went out soon after to explore the town a little. A stroll down to the Nakki Lake in the pleasant weather. The lake itself was beautiful but crowded.
We walked along a little more, ate some simple vegetarian food in the cleanest nearby eatery we could find and walked back to the hotel, which was a bit of a steep ascent. The staff were happy to give us a tour of the place all the way up to the rooftop with balconies on the edge of the hill and even showed us around their royal suite with the best view. Thereafter we took our favorite spot in the terrace restaurant and had a great evening with some banana split and coffee. Soon after it started to rain (yay!) thankfully a light shower, which made everything look even more beautiful. We walked back into the lounge and enjoyed it from there. Later, we had dinner in the restaurant’s indoor seating. The had a great service serving international cuisine and the food was great. We mostly go vegetarian when traveling because of the halal issue. We enjoyed some great traditional Rajasthani vegetarian food – Kadi Khichdi & Ker Sangri ki Sabzi. The waiters were dressed in traditional attire and told us they even wear the turban when the royal family is visiting for a stay.
Some of the activities in Mt. Abu include a museum, ancient temples and trekking trails in the nearby mountains. But due to the rain we cancelled most of our outings. Just shopped around close by in the Tibetan market in the evening and walked around the town. For the most part we were happy enjoying some of the best views from the restaruant patio, the peaceful gardens and the viewing points on the rooftop. A short and sweet stay with a royal touch!