Rajasthan’s only bona-fide hill station, MOUNT ABU (1220m) is a major Indian resort, popular above all with honeymooners who flock here during the winter wedding season (Nov to March) and with visiting holiday-makers from nearby Gujarat. Mount Abu’s hokey commercialism is aimed squarely at these local vacationers rather than foreign tourists, but the sight of lovestruck honeymooners shyly holding hands and jolly parties of Gujarati tourists on the loose lends the whole place a charmingly idiosyncratic holiday atmosphere quite unlike anywhere else in Rajasthan – and the fresh air is exhilarating after the heat of the desert plains. The town also occupies an important place in Rajput history, being the site of the famous yagna agnikund fire ceremony, conducted in the eighth century AD, from which all Rajputs claim mythological descent.

Note that during the peak months of April to June, and at almost any major festival time (especially Diwali in Nov) the town’s population of thirty thousand mushrooms, room rates skyrocket, and peace and quiet are at a premium.

At the centre of town, Nakki Lake is popular in the late afternoon for pony and pedalo rides. Of several panoramic viewpoints on the fringes of town above the plains, Sunset Point is the favourite – though the hordes of holiday-makers and hawkers also make it one of the noisiest and least romantic. Honeymoon Point, also known as Ganesh Point (after the adjacent temple), and Anadhra Point offer breathtaking views over the plain at any time of day, and tend to be more peaceful. 4pm is a good time to visit, but don’t try to take clifftop paths between Sunset and Honeymoon points, as tourists have been mugged here.

The Brahma Kumaris Museum, between the polo ground and the lake, is devoted to the spiritual ideals of the Brahma Kumaris (“children of Brahma”), whose headquarters are situated nearby. The Brahma Kumaris preach that all religions reach for the same goal, but label it differently. Once through the “Gateway to Paradise,” you’ll be greeted by freakish, life-sized mannequins including blue monsters wielding long knives. Each personifies greed, sex-lust and other vestiges of the so-called “iron age” that temple leaders promise deliverance from. If it all sounds somewhat cultish you’ll understand why many locals try to keep foreigners from entering into the sect’s clutches.

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