Achalgarh, Mount Abu

AchalGarh is one of the many beautiful medieval monuments that can be found in the picturesque Mount Abu. It was commissioned by Rana Kumbha, the esteemed designer who was responsible for many huge fortresses in Southern Rajasthan. Achalgarh is just 8 Kilometers from the main Mount Abu town and is well connected by road.

The fortress AchalGarh is surrounded by massive battlement walls. It is situated at the top of a mountain peak and offers picturesque views all year round. AchalGarh is found at the top of a steep winding path, whereby the 15th century fortresses and the temples are enclosed within the fortified walls. These fortified walls provide scenic lookouts onto the countryside.
A 10 minute climb from AchalGarh brings you to the beautiful and historic Jain Temples. These temples are a must visit for more great views and the beautiful sculpture.

Another must visit temple can be found below the path. The Achleshwar temple is famous for containing a Nandi which is said to be made of 5 metals, fold, silver, copper, brass and zinc. The Nandi is made up of Panchadhattu and weighs more than 4 tonnes.

Adeshwar Jain Temple:

From Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple, there is an uphill climb of about 15 mins and one reaches a decent height to get a panoramic view of the abu hills. One can also hire jeeps (INR 150) from the car parking to get to the top. After climbing 250 steps you can reach 550 years old Adeshwar temple built by Dhanasa Seth , Mahamantri of Rana Kumbha . There were 14 idols of Tirthakars made in panchdhatu . The total weight of the idols was told to be 57.76 tonnes . One idol was on ground floor, nine idols were on first floor and remaining four idols were on second floor. The white marble structure looks magnificent on the peak. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Adinath bhagwan and there are smaller jain temples around.

The Jain temple is beautiful and peaceful but you need to hike (and climb steps) to reach it. Further to the Jain temple are temples for Brahma & Kali. The view from the Jain temple is decent as you can see the aravalli and specifically Guru Shikkar. It’s a good place to visit if you are interested in trekking/hiking and are in good physical health – bring lots of water, sunscreen, hats and good walking shoes.

Achleshwar Mahadev Temple:

It is believed that the Achleshwar temple was built in the 9th century and legend has it that it was built around a toe print of Lord Shiva. There is also a pit that is said to reach to the netherworld. It is the only place on earth where the great toe of Lord Shiva is worshiped, that is estimated to be going to the centre of the earth. It is the proud possessor of the glory of rich mythology, theology, folklore and even history. Miracles happened in its hallowed precincts. Achleshwar also contains a natural Shivalinga. (A Shivalinga is phallus-shaped and fixed on a base, which is shaped like a yoni. The structure symbolises the supreme creative energy. It is usually made of stone but can also be of wood, metal, crystal, and soapstone.) There are also many other sculpted idols which are made of a crystal like stone. In natural light, this stone looks opaque, but if you place a candle behind the idols they take on a beautiful crystal-like sparkle, the stone is called the crystal stone or sfatik in Hindi. Nearby the temple, we find the scenic looking Mandakini Lake. This lake is surrounded by rocky hills, and rock walls covered with images of a Rajput king and buffaloes. These pictures are said to represent the legend that says the lake was filled with ghee and the watering hole of demons disguised as buffaloes. This was until they were shot by Raja Adi Pal.

Its Nandi, made of an alloy of five different metals, is credited with the marvel of repulsing the Muslim invaders by releasing millions of bumble bees to attack the Muslim marauders. They were the lessons learned by those in charge to preserve and protect the sanctity of the pristine temple that they devised a very injurious, albeit ingenious method of camouflaging the prominence and the eminence of the great temple.

In the process the whole temple was covered under a layer of lime, thus covering the intricate, fine, filigree masterpiece work of the great artisans of the bygone era. The result was that the edifice looked like a very ordinary, insignificant structure. As luck would have it, the people who had tried to camouflage the whole building by covering it with lime got lost into the unfathomable pit of time and together with that the future generation forgot if there ever were brilliantly sculptured temples under the dull, drab, dreary layers of lime.

Mercifully, then the Yuvraj of Sirohi State somewhere in 1979, and chanced upon something looking like marble under a layer of lime, while he was taking his royal visitors around the lime layered temples.

The dexterous state artisans set down in earnest to restore the great temple to their pristine splendor, under the gifted guidance of the proficient prince. At first the cleaning and the removing of the lime insult was done with extreme precaution. Layer after layer the great glory of the temples was being revealed. The pristine, intricate marble poems were being exposed and read with passionate reverence and awe. As the celestial work was being uncovered, utmost caution was taken to prevent any disfiguration to the ancient grandeur of the temples.

At all sites each column was warily detached. Painstakingly, it was repaired and refurbished, closest to its original glory and then with the same utmost care replaced on its own pillar in its true order. This could be abundantly observed at the Nandi corral.

The sanctum sanctorum was found to be built not with bricks or slabs of marble but with blocks of marble. As the cleaning was done a walking space was revealed between the exterior of the sanctum sanctorum and a jacket like walk outside it. It was a gallery like space meant for a walk round the temple termed parikrama. Amazingly, beautifully sculptured statues of Chamunda were found in a beautiful alcove on two of the walls, the rear and the left ones. They were smeared with vermillion, indicating they were then regularly worshiped in those halcyon days.

The Dashaavtar Temple left all the visitors spellbound. The canopy of the entrance had restored statues in various dance forms. The restoration is unnoticeable by even a trained eye. The restitution left all and sundry awestruck. Save and except one of the limbs of one of the statues, all other repaired limbs looked as the part of the primary creation. The one that could be noticed is an isolated example, was due to the different quality of marble, intentionally used to observe the difference.

Photogenic Place, especially over the top of the fort. Recommended since among the best places to visit in ABU.

You can enter the fort , first through Hanuman pol and then through Champa pol . The fort protected Achaleshwar Mahadev temple , Kantinath jain temple , Chamunda Devi temple , Mahakali temple , Raja Gopichand’s cave and Shravan Bhado pond .