Rajasthan has a rich cultural and historical heritage, and is replete with historical monuments. Mount Abu, the lone hill station in Rajasthan can boast of its very own fort, the Achalgarh fort.
Situated at a distance of about 11 km to the north of the town, it is one of the several tourist attractions around Mount Abu.
The fort is very old and believed to be built by kings of Paramara dynasty. However, it is Maharana Kumbha who is credited with renovating and re-establishing the fort. He is also the one to have named it Achalgarh, by which name, it is known to date.
The first gate of the fort is called Hanuman Pol. It comprises two granite pillars.
Further up is the Champa Pol, the entrance to the inner fort.
When you think of a fort, an image of grandeur and opulence, albeit of times past, springs before the eye. However, Achalgarh is more like the ruins of the fort. So be prepared for this so as not to be disappointed.
Although there is not much for a tourist in the fort itself, once you reach there, the panoramic view of Mount Abu spread all around you is breath-taking. In the end, you will find the climb is well worth the trouble .
There are several other attractions around the fort
The Shiva Temple
This is the temple of Achaleswar Mahadev built in the 9th century, commonly called the Shiva temple.In this temple, the toe of Lord Shiva is worshiped. Legend goes that the sage Vasishtha once lost his cow Nandini in a deep gorge near the mountain. Searching for it, he is said to have tried to move the mountain here. Lord Shiva then extended his toe to steady the mountain and prevent it from toppling. Because the toe saved the people of this region from destruction, the toe of the Lord is worshipped here. Lord Shiva also helped rescue Nandini by filling the gorge with water from the river Mandakini so that it could float up to the top.
In the temple,there is also a natural Shiva linga and various other idols sculpted in sphatic, a stone which looks like crystal.
A pit, seen here is believed to go all the way down to Patala, the Netherworld.
There is a brass Nandi weighing about 4 tons, in front of the temple. Nandi is a bull and Lord Shiva’s vehicle. It is also an epitome of power coupled with righteousness.
The stone buffaloes
Near the Shiva temple, there is a pond. 3 stone buffaloes stand in the water. These lifelike statues look quite impressive. There is a fable attached to this too. The pond was originally filled with Ghee. 3 demons would come disguised as buffaloes and drink up the ghee until the king spotted and killed them.
The Jain temples
Important Jain temples are there in the precincts. It takes a 10 minutes climb from the fort. Of these, Parshvanath temple is an important one. These temples are believed to have been built around the year1513.
Things to do
Shopping: There is plenty of shopping near the temple selling a variety of pictures, paintings, clothes and souvenirs.
Must do: The one thing that is unique here is the local artisans engraving your name on a rice grain. It is a great souvenir to take back with you and quite inexpensive too!
Eateries: No holiday is complete without an enjoyable snack and a picnic! A variety of eateries providing all kinds of mouth watering food items are spread around the place.
– Entry is free.
– The climb is rather steep. It may prove difficult for seniors and people with medical problems.
– You can reach the foot of the hill by road, driving your own vehicle or hiring a taxi. The road is narrow but surface is pretty good. The scenic drive on the winding roads is quite enchanting. Once you reach there, you need to trek on foot up the hill to reach the fort.
– Best time to visit is during the day. If you start at mid-morning, you will have plenty of time to do what you want in a leisurely manner.
Locate on Map
So, whether you are looking for a picturesque picnic spot or a tourist place of historical significance, Achalgarh is one that merits to be included in your itinerary.