The history of Mount Abu is as diverse as the city itself. It was once a part of the Chauhan kingdom of Rajasthan and served as a summer resort for the Rajput kings of the region. After that, it was leased by the British government from the then Maharaja of Sirohi for use as the headquarter of the resident to Rajputana (another name for Rajasthan).
Mount Abu was the home of many saints and sages in the old days. Legend has it that all the 330 million gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon used to visit this holy mountain. It is also the place where the great saint Vashishth lived and performed a yagna (sacrificial worship on a fire pit) to create four Agnikula (four clans of fire) to protect the earth from demons. The yagna was supposed to have been performed near a natural spring, which emerged from a rock shaped like a cow's head. According to another legend, once sage Vashishth's cow Nandini was trapped in a deep gorge and could not free herself. The sage appealed to Lord Shiva for assistance. The Lord sent Saraswati, the divine stream, to help flood the gorge so that the cow could float up. Vashishth then decided to ensure that such mishaps did not occur in future. He asked the youngest son of Himalaya, the king of mountains to fill the chasm permanently. This he did with the assistance of Arbud, the mighty snake. This spot came to be known as Mount Arbud and was later changed to its present form - Mount Abu. This place is held in reverence by Jains as well since Jain scriptures record that Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankar (spiritual leader), also visited Mount Abu and blessed the city.
It was here that an elderly mystic, Balam Rashiya, fell in love with a nubile teenager. The parents of the adolescent girl were bothered by the unreasonable demand of the sage. They soon devised a plan, according to which they placed a condition in front of the aging spiritualist. They told him to dig a lake with his fingernails, before sunup,
failing which he would not get the hand of their daughter as his bride. The aging guru accepted the stipulation and earnestly went to work to win over his bride. Seeing the sage succeeding in his mission, the parents went to the gods, beseeching them to save their daughter from becoming the bride of a very old maharishi. The gods betrayed the sage by imitating a cock, which crowed too early to announce the daybreak. The sage was heartbroken, thinking that he had failed in his stipulated mission and would not have his much adored teenager as his wife. In the divine process the love lake Nakki was born.
It is in the old scripture, Mount Abu is named after the mythical snake Arbuda. It has been described as the most sacred place on earth. According to Padma Purana one night’s stay at Mount Abu has the blessing equivalent to the charity of giving one thousand cows. It was considered the abode of great saints and Gods. Mount Abu finds mention in the Puranas, like Skund Purana, Upanishads, and Mahabharata and in the travelogues of Magasthanese, Col. Todd and many others. It was here that the four, fiery Rajput clans were born from the fire of Havana performed by the sage, Rishi Vashishta. The place was plagued by incessant tremors. Once again Lord Shiva came to its rescue. He pressed his big toe at the sacred Achalgarh to steady the mountain. Likewise, the peak of Mount Abu came to be known as Guru Shikhar after the guru of the Devas, Dattatreya Muni. Similarly, Gaumukh, the Vashishta Ashram, became famous as the precincts of the sacrosanct fire, which gave birth to the four Rajput Agnikula clans.
Historically this mountain terrain has been the sanctuary for regional warriors. It was because of this strategic topography that the invaders could never defeat the local rulers. As the attackers would attack, the local warriors would climb the familiar mountain ranges and from the top would assault the aggressors and force them to retreat. Accurate historical information is not available on the early history of Mount Abu; only mythology. We learn of the Bhillas and the Nagas who, according to legend, lived here in ancient times. The latter worshipped the Godess Durga, which points to the existence of a fertility cult, traces of which remain even in historic times. After this we come across the name of the first kings. First ruler, Dhumraja, established the Parmar (The slayer of the enemy-the name given by the sage Vasistha) dynasty in 916 AD. They were the important rulers of the region. They were the tribute paying vassals of the powerful Solankis (who influenced the architecture of the region, whose examples are the older Delwara temples) of Gujarat, the neighboring state of Rajasthan. After a fierce war between the two, Bimal Shah of the Solankis was filled with penitence and desired penance. He met a Jain hermit who told him that there was no such thing as penance for a willful sin, yet he could make his life better by constructing temples to lessen his guilt. He soon went about to construct Dilwara temples, the exquisite poems in marble. The two tycoon brothers, Tej Pal and Vastu Pal, who were then considered to be the biggest builders in the country, ably helped him. If there was something like a record book like the Guinness then they would have been included in it.
The conquest of Mount Abu in 1311 by Rao Lumba of Deora-Chauhan dynasty brought to an end the reign of the Parmars and also marked the decline of Mount Abu. He shifted the capitol city to Chandravati in the plains. After the destruction of Chandravati in 1405, Rao Shasmal made Sirohi his headquarters.
These mountains are the oldest ranges in India, as old as water and as fresh as thirst. Their contemporaries are the Appalachians of North America, together with which they constitute the oldest mountain systems in the world. They are older than the Nilgiries; they are older than the Himalayas yet they exult eternal youth. Mount Abu is the highest peak between the Vindhias and the Himalayas. It is the proud abode of the verdant, salubrious forests, habited by leopards, wild boars, Sambhars, monkeys, porcupines, snakes, civet cats, hares, bears and many exotic birds, highly praised by the great, renowned Indian ornithologist Mr. Salim Ali, after whom there is an observation tower in the jungles. With the passage of time Mount Abu was declared a sanctuary and a very big area, the Trevor’s tank, too was demarcated, named after the British officer Mr. Trevor; just like the beautiful walk, the Bailey’s walk, was named after another British officer Mr. Bailey.
It was left for the British to rediscover Mount Abu. Col. Todd was surveying the then Rajputana state and now the Rajasthan state and stumbled upon Mount Abu. His master, the Resident, the local representative of the British Viceroy in India, selected Mount Abu, as the summer capital of Rajputana state. This made Mount Abu an important destination for the royals of Rajputana. They made their palaces and the ‘Vakalat Houses’ for their lawyers, who accompanied them to plead their cases in the court of the Resident. Many of theses royal edifices have been converted into heritage hotels or prestigious schools or army or paramilitary cantonments.
After the Second World War there was rapid growth in tourism in Mount Abu. The single bus service from the railroad, Abu road, known in the olden days as Kharadi, was gradually increased in frequency and the number of the vehicles plying too swelled. By 1954 Mount Abu was merged with Rajasthan from Bombay province. By the eighties, tourism multiplied in geometrical progression, crossing the 1.2 million mark per year by late eighties
Agra Tourist Places
Historyof Agra :
Agra has a rich historical background, which is amply evident from the numerous historical monuments in and around the city. The earliest reference for Agra comes from the epical age, when Mahabharata refer Agra as Agravana . In the sources prior to this, Agra has been referred as Arya Griha or the abode of the Aryans. The first person who referred Agra by its modern name was Ptolemy.
Though the heritage of Agra city is linked with the Mughal dynasty, numerous other rulers also contributed to the rich past of this city. Modern Agra was founded by Sikandar Lodhi (Lodhi dynasty; Delhi Sultanate) in the 16th century. Babar (founder of the Mughal dynasty)also stayed for sometime in Agra and introduced the concept of square Persian-styled gardens here.
Emperor Akbar built the Agra fort and Fatehpur Sikri near Agra. Fatehpur Sikri remained his capital for around fifteen years after which the city was left isolated in mysterious circumstances.Jahangir beautified Agra with palaces and gardens despite spending most of his time in Kashmir with which he was passionately attached.
Agra came to its own when Shahjahan ascended to the throne of Mughal Empire.
He marked the zenith of Mughal architecture, when he built the Taj in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. In his later years, Shahjahan shifted his capital to the new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi and ruled from there. Shahjahan was dethroned in 1658 by his son, Aurangzeb who imprisoned him in the Agra Fort. Aurangzeb shifted the capital back to Agra till his death. After the death of Aurangzeb, Mughal Empire could not touch its peak and many regional kingdoms emerged. The post-Mughal era of Agra saw the rule of the Jats, Marathas and finally the British taking over the city.
Origin and Development
Agra is the city of the inimitable Taj Mahal. The story of Agra beigns much earlier then the Taj, However it finds mention in the epic Mahabharata when it was called Agrabana are Paradise. Ptolemy, the famous second century A.D. geographer, marked it on his map of the world as Agra. Tradition and legend ascribe the present city of Raja Badal Singh (around 1475 A.D.) whose Fort, Badalgarh, Stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 12th century A.D. persian poet Salman, too, Speaks of a desperate assault on the forrtress of Agra, then held by one King Jaipal, by sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. It was Mughals who finally nurtured Agra with the finest monuments architects could design : The Taj Mahal of Shah Jhan, Agra Fort of Akbar, Itmad-Ud-Daulah and neighbouring Sikandra are but few of the many that spangle the city, each of which stands in mute testimony to the city's grandur over the ages.
Location, Boundaries and Weather
The Agra district is situated in western U.P. between 27.11' degree Latitude North and 78.0' degree to 78.2' degree Longitute East. Its Altitude is 169 meters above sea level. On the North it is bounded by Mathura District, On the South it is bounded by Dhaulpur District, On the East it is bounded by Firozabad District and On the West it is bounded by Bharatpur. Agra is situated on the bank of Yamuna river.
In Agra Maximum Temperature in Summer is 45°C and minimum temperature is about 21.9°C and in Winter maximum temperature is 131.7°C and minimum tempreature is about 4.2D°C. Best season for tourist is from October to March.
Area and Population
According to Census 1991, the are of Agra district is 4027.00 sqr. km., Where Rural area is 3838.60 sqr. km. and Urban area is 188.40 sqr. km.. Its Total Population is 27,51,021 out of which Males are 15,01,927 and Females are 12,49,094. Of the Total Population, 16,39,935 constitute the Rural Population and 11,11,086 are makes the Urban Population.
The Agra district is divided into Six Tehsils and 15 Blocks. Total number of Nayay Panchayats in the district are 114 while Gram Sabhas stands at 636. The total populated villages are 904. The total number of police stations in the district are 41 out of which 16 are in Urban area and 25 are in Rural area. The total number of Railway Stations (including Halts) are 29 and Bus Stands/Bus Stops are 144. Total number of Broad Guage lines is 196 K.M. and Meter Guage is 35 K.M..
Although tourism contributes to a large extent in the economy of Agra, the city has a substantial industrial base. A lot of manufacturing plants and industry related wholesale markets is prominent in Agra. Agra Industries are doing a fine job in various fields. Producers and dealers of Agra deal in different products and has a vast market to support them. The economy of Agra is also dependant on indrustrial production. But, the cities industrial base also produces automobiles, leather goods, handicrafts and stone carving.Agra has a good number of apparel and garment manufacturers and exporters. Some of the leading names in the industry are Kamlesh Exports, Jsn International, India Craft etc.Agra has also developed a thriving export business. Agra has developed an important market for the automobile industry. Anil Diesels, Benara Auto, Harvest Group of Industries and Malloys India are some of the major players of the automobile industry in Agra. The leather industry is among the most traditional and original industries of Agra. Today, Agra's economy is mainly dependant on tourism. This city is home to some of the most prestigious spas, resorts and hotels in all of India. In fact, one of the largest spas in all of Asia is the Kaya Kalp which is located in the Hotel Mughal. Primarily the Economy of the Agra district is agriculture based while the economy base of Agra city is Small Scale Industries, Commerce and Trade. Major crops
Agra, located on the Indo-Gangetic plain has a continental sub-tropical climate, with long, hot summers from April to September when temperatures can reach as high as 45°C (113°F). During summers dry winds (loo) blow in this region. The monsoon months from July to September see about 67 cm (27 inches) of rainfall annually.
Area: 120.57 sq. km
Altitude: 169 metres above sea level
Location: Uttar Pradesh, India
Languages: Hindi and Urdu