Mt. Abu Hill Station — Niagra Falls of the East

Mt. Abu Hill Station — Niagra Falls of the East

India is sweltering hot in the summer – we’re talking 120 degrees plus – so anyone who can afford it flees to the higher elevations where it’s cooler. The entire British Colonial Government would decamp to Simla, another hill station, for the entire summer. Our next stop was Mt Abu, a hill station in southern Rajasthan at the edge of the state of Gujarat, reached by twisting and turning up a series of switchbacks on a steep mountain face. This would have been scary enough, but of course then there were the cows in the road. And did we mention the buses and trucks passing each other during blind curves (which pretty much describes the entire road). And, of course, our jeeps were doing the same. The fact that there were roadside temples with little offerings lining the road did nothing to assuage our fear – in Bali, these kind of temples are placed where people tend to get killed on the road.

To our surprise (and delight), we made it alive to the hilltop, and spent two days hanging around the honeymoon capital of northwest India. Being marriage season, it was full of honeymooners. We met one perplexed Indian-American groom who had come to India for an arranged marriage, only to find now on this honeymoon that his new bride wanted nothing to do with him presently (it takes a while for the parties in an arranged marriage to get to know each other, we think).

The town was full of souvenir sellers, but their target was the local market, and we were left relatively alone. Kathy decided to just hang out and take it easy, but Scott embarked on a death march hike up the side of the mountain with some younger, fitter travel companions. To his credit, he kept up with them – but it pretty much wiped him out for the next day and a half. It was handy having Jordan (the ER Doc) for backup and encouragement. deathmarch

There was only one real sight to see in Mt. Abu – some incredible Jain temples with intricate marble carvings of incredible delicacy. (Sorry, no pictues were allowed). Jainism is an Indian religion, one that split off from Hinduism many hundreds of years ago. A main tenent is not to take another’s life – whether it be a cow or a chicken egg, or an ant. Jain’s won’t eat onions or garlic, as pulling them up from the earth might kills insects. Observant Jains might sweep the path in front of them, to ensure any insects are brushed away so they won’t be stepped on. Jains choose careers that don’t put them in a position of having to kill things — so many of them are business people, rather than farmers or laborers.
The temples were built several hundred years ago, and are still in use today (we visited when there weren’t any services going on). Not only were the carvings magnificent, but it was astonishing how they had managed to get these massive marble slabs up the mountain in one piece.

After two days, it was time for yet another bus ride (arghhh..), this time to the romantic city of Udaipur.

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