Abu, Mount

   Mount Abu is a small peak (some 4,000 feet high) in the southwest of the Indian state of Rajasthan that figures in Hindu legend. It is especially holy to Jains (see JAINISM), who built beautifully adorned temples there. It was once a British hill station for retreat from the summer heat.
   According to one legend, the sage Vasishtha’s cow Nandini was once trapped in a deep gorge and could not free herself. The sage appealed to Lord SHIVA for assistance. The Lord sent SARASVATI, the divine stream, to help flood the gorge so that the cow could float up. Vasishtha then decided to ensure that such mishaps would not occur in future. He asked the youngest son of HIMALAYA, the king of mountains, to fill the chasm perma-nently. This he did with the assistance of Arbud, the mighty snake. This spot came to be known as Mount Arbud, and the name was later changed to its present form—Mount Abu.
   It is said that this mountain was visited and blessed in the sixth century B.C.E. by MAHAVIRA, the 24th and last Jain TIRTHANKARA of this half of the cosmic era. It is known for its marble Jain temples, two of which are famous. The first, built in the 11th century, is devoted to RISHABHA, the first Tirthankara of the line leading to Mahavira, The other, from the 13th century, is dedicated to Neminatha, the 22nd Tirthankara in the line. The temples are not large but are known for their stunning and intricately carved statuary and ornamentation.
   Further reading: Lothar Clermont, Jainism and the Temples of Mount Abu (New Delhi: Prakash Books, 1998); Sehdev Kumar, A Thousand Petalled Lotus: Jain Temples of Rajasthan: Architecture and Iconography (New Delhi: Abhinav, 2001); Jodh Singh Mehta, Abu to Udaipur (Celestial Simla to City of Sunrise) (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1970); Muniraj Jayanta Vijayi, Holy Abu: A Tourist’s Guide to Mount Abu and Its Jaina Shrines (Bhavnagar: Shri Yashovijaya Jaina Granth-mala, 1954).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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