Ali, Eliana, and I have been in almost-desert territory for over one month now. Even though Rajasthan is primarily known for being a desert state, there is a sole hill station within our state called Mount Abu. After being highly recommended by two of our bosses, Eliana and I decided to venture south on our day off to see what the hype was about. Since we’ve planned quite a bit of traveling in the coming weeks – Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer (stay tuned for more details!) – Ali decided to stay at home to rest up instead.
As is the norm, our trip did not go as planned. Although the morning was fine – we left at 7 am to board a train, arrived in Mount Abu after an hour and a half, and ate delicious food at a South Indian restaurant called Sankalp. For me, as someone who was raised on South Indian food and has had rarely any in a good month and half, the dosas and medu vada I had was most welcome. During lunch, however, we found out that a trek that was supposed to start at 3 p.m. was postponed for nearly three hours. This left us with quite a bit of free time since all we had really planned to do was to see the Delwara temples – the most beautiful and intricately carved Jain temples in the world (I wish that there were pictures, but unfortunately no cameras were allowed instead). But having finished by about 2 p.m., we went about the town attempting to find things to do to fill those three hours. First, our driver who could not speak any English told us that there was a beautiful temple to the right of the road. This was true, but only after climbing a few hundred steps to the top (I lost count of the steps after awhile). Along the way, there were several humorous trinkets available for sale (see the picture below). After, we stopped by a meditation centre where, instead of finding a soothing place to relax and think, a Brahma attempted to convert Eliana to some unknown religion (they asserted that they were not Hindu – simply “spiritual” – but all across the walls were Hindu art and they were praying to Lord Shiva so we were left confused at best). Since Nakki Lake is the most popular place on the mountain, we headed there next only to be bombarded by sellers, Indian tourists, and beggars. After those somewhat trying experiences, we decided to go for what we knew could only be a success: Café Coffee Day. There, we loaded up on sugary drinks and accidentally-on-purpose napped on their pleather red seats, much to the amusement of the two men working the shop.
Then, we finally headed on our much-needed trek to watch the sun set in the mountains. On our trek, there were also 3 other girls from the UK who were spending 6 weeks traveling across India (see picture below). Meeting them was a special treat for Eliana and I because we have both been starved for Western company. Our trekking guide, an extremely strong, middle-aged Indian man named Ashok, took us off the beaten path on his own trail so that we could witness the beautiful, rolling hills before us. The views from the top of the mountain – especially of Nakki Lake – were so much more appreciated from a distance; Eliana and I were in heaven. In the distance, we could vaguely see the hordes of Indians far below us, but up above the hustle and bustle seemed much more poetic to me. In all, our vacation was an absolutely lovely respite from our village and a fantastic way to unwind on the weekend.