Thursday, January 19, 2006

Last of Mt. Abu

Went on a 5 hour tour of Mt Abu. I really should have known better, as organized tours are usually crap.

It was me, and a bus-load of Indians (tourists from other cities) checking out the big sights in Mt Abu. Most were pretty lame, although, the Jain temple we went to was quite interesting, with beautiful carvings.

Mt Abu is the home of a religious university, whose members, er, one could possibly call a cult. It's probably too harsh a term, as they seem to be very nice people. I met 3 (americans and canadians) at the jain temple, and they kindly explained the history of the temple to me, as I couldn't follow the hindi tour.

Afterwards, we headed to a temple on the highest hill in the area - which I was told was part of the oldest mountain range in the world.

Mt. Abu is a strange place. Not so far from the hilltop temple was a government listening station (i.e. a spy station). Down the hill is the Internal Security College - a training place for the country's elite anti-terrorism special forces group.

Yes, a peace-loving religious group and an elite anti-terrorism force, all training in the same lovely mountain area.

The next day, I went on a 4 hour hike of the surrounding hills with a group from my hotel. Really really pleasant, and great views - although, for sure, now I need to ditch my flip flops. 4 hours of hiking is not nice on the feet, and they're still giving me pain.

Mt Abu was a nice place. The center was a complete tourist trap (including a lake in the center with paddle boats you can rent), ice-cream being solid everywhere, and Mt. Abu t-shirts and hats being sold in most shops. The interesting thing though, is that the tourists are mainly Indians - honeymooners and the like, and so it's interesting to see how the place develops accordingly. Indian and foreign tourists want completely different things, and so the town really morphs to support one, but not both of the groups.

No comments: