As our city tour of Jaipur was nearing an end, our tour guide asked if we wanted to visit any shops for textiles or gemstones (Jaipur is well known for its gems). I think our guide probably would have received some kind of commission for bringing us into some local shops if we spent money, but we weren’t in the market for any shopping. Instead, I wanted to visit Galtaji, an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site. Galta Temple is sometimes referred to as the Monkey Temple because of the large tribe of monkeys that live there. While planning our India itinerary, I came across pictures of this temple and decided I had to see it.
Galtaji is not part of the typical Jaipur city tour as it is located in the hills about 10 kilometers away. But since we had a driver, I decided to tack this site onto our timeline. Our tour guide was not really on board at first. He was ready for less touring and more shopping so he could earn a few extra rupees (at least that was my assumption anyway). So he tried to sway me from wanting to see the temple. You see, it was a Sunday, and he told me that the pilgrims only visit the temple to feed the monkeys on Tuesdays and Saturdays, therefore, there likely wouldn’t be any monkeys there that day. Well, that was disappointing because the monkeys certainly were a big draw. But I was not deterred because the pictures I had seen online were enough to still warrant a visit.
The temple is built within a mountain pass and set around a natural spring that flows into two tiered pools. Thousands of pilgrims visit each year to swim in these pools because it is believed to bring forth good luck and success. The upper pool is for men and the lower pool is for women. There were quite a few men swimming in the upper pool which didn’t seem too unusual since the water appeared to be fresh and fairly clean. The lower pool on the other hand, was pretty disgusting! Only a true Hindu pilgrim would believe that swimming in that murky water would bring about success. I’m fairly confident a dip in that pool would only bring about infection and/or disease. There were a few
brave desperate women, ankle-deep in the lower pool trying to fish out coins. Not quite the spiritual pilgrimage you may have envisioned.
Oh, let’s not forget about the monkeys that probably wouldn’t be there. There were monkeys everywhere! They live in these hills and I am sure they are there every day of the week. Not just on Tuesdays and Saturdays when pilgrims supposedly come to feed them.
I felt partly redeemed after my Hawa Mahal misstep earlier in the day. Tour Guide: 1 – Dayna: 1