According to a legend ‘Abu’ stands for the son of Himalaya, deriving its name from Arbuda, the powerful serpent that rescued Nandi, Shiva’s bull, when it was trapped in a deep gorge and could not free itself. The place thus got famous as Mount Arbud or Mt Abu as it is known now.
Mount Abu, the only hill station of Rajasthan, celebrates this rich legacy of mythology and history every summer. The festival brings alive traditions and gaiety for the natives and the tourists alike. The colorfully dressed Garasia tribals and their cultural celebrations, which coincide with the festival, provide an added bonus of rural ambience and folklore.
It is held in the second half of May during the Buddh Poornima (full moon), jointly organised by the state Tourism Department, the local municipal board and the district administration. The festival is colourful tapestry of traditional events, competitions, joy rides, skating shows, a band show and many other contests.
The celebrations start
off with a shobha yatra, which starts from the Shikhar lodge
and ends at the Nakki Lake. There is avid participation by
rural folk, artistes and the tourists.
The festival is a potpourri of traditional contests like dam laga aisa, shingar, mehendi mandna, deepdaaan panihari matka race , as well as modern events, including tug-o-war, musical chair, CRPF band show.
There are colourful music and dance shows at the Aravalli Rangmanch presented by the folk artistes from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab in the evenings.
Rock climbing sessions, parasailing, skating race, boat race, and magic shows are some of the other tourist attractions of the festival.
While the summer festival is one of the seasonal allures of Mt Abu, the major pull are the famous Dilwara temples. The stone workmanship inside these superbly carved Jain temples dates back to 11th century.
Though a part of the Aravalli range, Mt Abu is separated from it by a narrow valley. The highest point, Guru Shikhar, is situated at its northern end. Guru Shikhar is the highest point between the Nilgiris in the south and the Himalayan range up north.
Nakki Lake is another major tourist attraction, while Todd Rock is famous as the sunset point. The area around Nakki Lake has lots of lodges and guesthouses.
Visitors can buy souvenirs from Rajasthali, the state government emporium. The lake market, plaza, museum etc. are other shopping hubs.
Mt Abu has an interesting mixture of various architecture styles. Upendra Singh Shekhawat, Tourist Officer, Mt Abu, says, "The hill station is interesting contrast between the British-style kothis, the holiday homes of the royals, as well as various tribal dwellings amidst the thick forests on the hills. Mt Abu was a favourite summer retreat of the English colonists, which explains the British-style houses."
The hill station has something to offer to every kind of tourist. Be it a leisure traveller, a pilgrim, somebody seeking an adventure holiday or a foreigner looking for colourful sights of rich Indian heritage.