Monkey temple, Jaipur

Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
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Trip End Apr 30, 2006


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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Well, some good came of being ill as the friend I made at Delhi airport has caught up with me in Jaipur. We spent the day seeing the sights in the town, including the Palace of the Winds which where the Maharajah's wives could watch processions while in full purdah. The facade of the building is incredibly ornate and has many tiny windows and peepholes. We also went to see the giant astrological devices which look like cubist sculptures. The sun dials were amazingly accurate.

On our final morning in Jaipur we went to visit the 'monkey temple' at Galta. Within seconds of leaving the east gate of the hectic city we were on a peaceful track up a hill surrounded by goats. We followed the path through the valley and went into a Hanuman temple. The temple priest gave us bananas to feed the monkeys, they were not vicious like the other monkeys I've seen in Asia, but had soft hands and took the fruit gently. Here we received our first tikka - an orange mark on forehead between our eyes.

The temple is in the cleft between two enormous granite cliffs. It is formed by three baths which fill with water from a sacred underground spring.
The first bath was full of skanky water and bathing monkeys, the baby ones had wrinkled old man faces. The water from this flowed out through a marble cow's mouth down some rocks and into a lower bath for the men to bathe. This bath was surrounded by an ornate building and a colonaded facade which had openings to reveal waterfalls running down the rock face into the lowest bath where the women bathe. It was an unexpectedly beautiful place.

In the afternoon we caught a bus north to the Shekawati region - which is on the eaternmost fringe of the Thar desert.
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