Friday, 1 March 2019

Huggin' Up The Big Monkey Man - Galta Ji Temple


Like many other travelers, Jon and I can tell you a few stories about our dodgy past experiences with monkeys. However, we never learn. We'd heard about an ancient temple, now home to some five thousand macaque monkeys, and decided that we needed to see it for ourselves.


Nestled in a steep-sided valley 10 km from Jaipur, Galta Ji has been a popular pilgrimage for Hindus since the 15th Century. 


Our tuk tuk dropped us off at an unprepossessing fly-blown, litter strewn patch of ground and within minutes we were surrounded with touts offering to save us the hour-long hike ahead by taking us on the back of their dirt bikes or to accompany us on our walk,  I'm Monkeyman, monkeys steal your sunglasses, break your phones, very bad. Monkeys not hurt you if they see you with Monkeyman. Tourists were thin on the ground and they're only trying to make a living so we declined politely and started our ascent.



 Our first stop of the journey was a 200 metre hike up to Surya Mandir,  the Temple of the Sun God, where we were anointed with oils, had tilak marks daubed on our foreheads, scarlet thread knotted around our wrists and ate prasad with the priestess who lived within the temple grounds. I'm sure our donation towards the upkeep of the temple made the sun god equally generous, I reckon it explains the record-breaking, unseasonably warm weather and glorious sunshine the UK has been experiencing since we got home!


Sun God appeased, we carried on with our journey, stopping to chat to this charming sadhu along the way. We loved his twinkly eyes and radiant smile and were thrilled to finally meet an Indian who didn't ask us about Brexit!


If you've been following our travels no doubt you'll be familiar with my wardrobe by now so here's a new maxi dress to add to the three I took to India with me - my other purchase from Anokhi. There's one currently on Etsy for £200 - needless to say, I didn't pay that much!


Squeezed between cliffs in a rocky valley, Galta is a desolate, if evocative place. We'd been walking for about forty-five minutes without seeing another soul or glimpsing anything that resembled a temple and were starting to think the smiling sadhu had pointed us in the wrong direction .....


But no, smiley man was to be trusted. We'd arrived at Galta Ji.


What is it that Diana Vreeland said? Pink is the navy blue of India. She wasn't wrong. The sight of those colourfully-clad pilgrims performing their ritual ablutions was unforgettable.



You'll find a picturesque collection of 250 year-old temples squeezed into a narrow rocky ravine. Galta Ji owes its sacred status in large part to a freshwater spring that seeps constantly through the rocks in the otherwise dry valley. From here the water flows into tanks, the depth of which is claimed to be several elephants deep.


In a chamber at the end of the bottom pool you'll find 250 year old frescoes, still in reasonable condition, depicting the maharajah playing polo. the exploits of Krishna and his milkmaids.

























We visited a shrine dedicated to Hanuman (the monkey god) where the priest tied more scared thread around our wrists, beat us with peacock feathers and chanted a mantra. We were a bit concerned when he bolted the doors behind us - until we heard banging on the roof and the windows rattling - the doors were locked to keep the monkeys out. Is nothing scared?!



After we left the inner sanctum of the temple and sat on a bench so we could put on our shoes Jon started shrieking, What the f*ck!!! Get it off, get it off! I looked up to see a bastard massive monkey sitting astride his shoulders, massaging his ears. Luckily the priest was on hand to distract the wayward monkey away with a boiled sweet. With monkeys perched on walls and trees throughout the duration of our hour-long hike back up the hill, poor Jon was a quivering wreck.


But they're cute really, aren't they?


During our tour of the Golden Triangle we also visited Amber Fort, built in 1592 (photos HERE), Jaipur's Albert Hall Museum, opened by the Prince of Wales in 1876 (photos HERE) and Amrapali, an absolutely incredible museum of tribal jewellery which sadly didn't permit photos but you can read all about it HERE.

See you soon for our final Indian adventure!

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.

29 comments:

  1. I'me in stitches again vix , wish i could have seen john and the monkey ,So funny xxx

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  2. Poor Jon! They might be cute to look at, but I don't think I would have taken kindly to one perching on my shoulder and massaging my ears! And all that after being beaten with peacock feathers ;-) Oh well, another one to add to your dodgy experiences with monkeys, then. But the setting of those temples looks truly magnificent, and I love all the colourful attire. Much much better than navy blue. As for your maxi, there are no words to describe how stunning it is! xxx

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    1. It was definitely an interesting experience - I'm just glad a monkey didn't take a fancy to my new dress! xxx

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  3. Beautiful pictures! The colours are fantastic. Poor Jon he must have been terrified. Hope he has recovered. Xx

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    1. Thanks, Shelagh! Don't mention monkeys next time you see Jon! xxx

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  4. what a magnificent place!, and so interesting to go there and watch all the people and have a chat with the sadhu. It's amazing even the part of been beaten with peacock feathers or having dodgy experiences with monkeys! Amazing!!! (obviously, Jon could not agree!)
    Love to see you in your fabulous dress looking gorgeous!, a joy for the eyes!
    besos

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    1. Thanks, Monica! We were trying so hard not to giggle during the peacock feather whipping - not sure what that was all about! xxx

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  5. Galta ji temple is glorious. Such amazing architecture! I could watch these photographs forever....and someday I should try to paint some Indian landscape. How funny that priests needs to lock the door of the Monkey God shrine to keep the monkey away. But at least you got your blessings in piece.
    You look beautiful in that dress and Jon looks nice too. Sorry to hear that he was sort of attacked by one of the monkeys, I imagine that isn't fun but they are really cute, aren't they?

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    1. Isn't it special? The colours the ladies were dressed in seemed to make Galta Ji even lovelier. Such an atmospheric few hours (minus the monkeys!) xxx

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  6. We were told red-faced monkeys are the mean ones, black-faced monkeys are okay. That said, I am nervous of any monkeys, and am not at all surprised that Jon was shaken by his encounter with a 'bastard massive monkey'.

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    1. I knew one type was better than the other but I couldn't remember which one! xxx

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  7. I do love macaques but poor Jon must have got such a shock.
    This looks like an amazing trip, just fascinating. xxx

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    1. They're very cute from a distance. xxx

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  8. Poor Jon! From childhood I've been warned that "monkeys are as smart as hogs, as hungry and as mean." (Nearby Peru, Indiana is an old circus town that still hosts a 3-ring indoor performance venue.) And every Hoosier farm kid knows "hogs'll eat you!"

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    1. Hi Beth! That warning will stay with me, evil little sods! xxx

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  9. Monkeys, love em and hate em. They tend to be attracted to my husband, more than one monkey has hugged him

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    1. It used to be me that they went for, I'm glad they left me alone this time! xxx

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  10. we were there too - of cause :-D
    but we´ve been told (by our trusty riksha driver) that it was a palace in the first - and ages after it was left some priests, sadhus etc. made themself a housing there and installed shrines.....
    the monkeys behaved back then - but there was a scary guy with a flute and cobras on the stairs - i´m not phobic with snakes, but that bunch looked not trustworthy.
    xxxx

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    1. I couldn't find any reference to it having been a palace in a previous incarnation but it would make sense of the frescoes.
      Snake charmers - now they are a bit worrying! xx

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  11. That's a naughty monkey, poor Jon! You were brave heading into their territory! Not sure I could cope with all that monkey mayhem, I'd be very wary of the little beggars xx

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    1. They're so cheeky! I think it will take a while for Jon to venture anywhere with a large monkey population any time soon. It didn't help that there was one sitting on our balcony when we got back to Hotel Sweet Dreams! xxx

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  12. I don't blame Jon at all-I'd have died of a heart attack on the spot.

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    1. They're no fun when they're that close! x

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  13. I'm not keen on monkies, they make me nervous, you were brave to do all this with them pestering you. It was a worth braving the monkies though to get access to all this. fabulous - feeling miserable now your India posts have ended for this trip! ....

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    1. I like them from a distance but they're far too cheeky for my liking!
      I'd better get another trip booked up (not that I need an excuse!)xxx

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  14. They are cute, but I'm not sure I want one massaging my ears. Other than that it sounds perfect, the architecture, the ladies in pink, the smiley man...
    xx

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    1. No, a monkey massage wasn't something Jon really wanted either! xxx

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  15. What a beautiful spot! Poor Jon, that must have been frightening. I love animals, but I don't think I would want to have a monkey sitting on me either.

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Lots of love, Vix