One of the most memorable days of our trip to India was our visit to the Galta Ji Hindu Temple, or the Galta Monkey Temple as it has become known, near Jaipur.
The present temple was built in the 18th century, but pilgrims have been coming to the site since the 16th century. It is built into a mountain pass and there is a natural spring that fills 7 pools in which pilgrims bathe. There is a main temple and numerous other surrounding buildings.
Many of the temple buildings are abandoned, but some people do live there, monks engaged in religious studies, including children. We happened to catch some of them in the middle of a cricket game.
This isn’t called the monkey temple for nothing. There are two kinds of monkeys that inhabit the temple and the surrounding hills, rhesus macaque and langur. The rhesus are the smaller ones and the langur are the larger ones with the long tails. I am going to be honest and say that I am scared of wildlife and at the thought of any of it climbing on me. I always think about those rare occurrences when normally docile animals just have had a bad day and tear someone’s face off. So it took a lot for me to warm up to the idea of allowing the monkeys to get close enough to take a peanut out of my hand, or even….take a deep breath….climb on me. Jeff had no such fear though and was a veritable monkey climbing post. These are not shy monkeys either, very used to having people around and taking food from them.
These are the larger langur monkeys, look at their super long tails!
Despite all of the monkeys, the temple is dedicated to Ganesha, the elephant god, not Hanuman, the monkey god.
As we walked up into other temple buildings, monkeys ran and played, and engaged in a lot of communal grooming.
We were invited to sit before a monk for a blessing.
There is a small fee to take photos, a small fee to buy food for the monkeys and you are expected to make a donation for the temple blessing, but other than that, a visit to the temple is free. I also suggest you bring some hand sanitizer. I am not a germaphobe, but there are monkeys everywhere and they do their monkey business everywhere and then climb on you and take food out of your hands, so not a bad idea to freshen up.
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