Are the monkeys resident here because they know it’s a place of worship, or merely because they know they’re going to get fed? Typical Indian Monkey Business!
Having seen some of the more infamous monkey temples in other countries, such as at Swayambhunath in Kathmandu, and many of the temples in Bali such as at Uluwatu and Taman Ayun, I wanted to get a good comparison here in India. Are the macaques of Jaipur as notorious as their Balinese cousins? During my brief trip to the Pink City, I heard of a small temple on the hillside that would make a good trip from my hotel for a few hours. This temple was known as Galwar Bagh.
The Temples at Galwar Bagh are located within a narrow gorge near to Kaniya Balaji Town which is around 10km east of Jaipur (an infamous auto-rickshaw escorted me there and waited for me for around 400 Rupees). The present temples were built during the 18th century and remain an important Hindu pilgrimage area. Galwar Bagh is often called “the Monkey Temple” because of it’s huge population of monkeys. While Indians can enter the temple complex free of charge, foreigners are forced to pay 100 Rupees to enter, and an extra 50 Rupees for the use of a camera.
The main temple’s correct name is “Galtaji” and the area comprises of some very run down temples and three water tanks (known locally as “kunds”). There is still water moving in places and the design and shape of the variety of buildings are still really interesting to look at, complete with lots of shaped roofs, balconies, and arches. As I was walking around taking photos, I often imagined how beautiful this all would have been when in it’s prime.
I saw lots of people buying fruit from market stalls outside the temple complex, and during my walk around Galwar Bagh I realised why they were doing this – it was to feed the monkeys! Although monkeys are meant to like bananas, you will find that the monkeys here will prefer eating the oranges! I didn’t want to feed the monkeys myself, but the Indian nationals seemed to have a lot of fun! Regardless of fruit, you should take some bottled water with you as there is little in the way of buying provisions within the temple itself.
When I visited the Galwar Bagh, I couldn’t help but notice quite a few odd looking inhabitants (and no, not the monkeys) hanging around who seemed to be living in the buildings and because of this I was once again drawn to the poverty that exists in all parts of India. This would perhaps this would not be a good place to visit at night or as a solo female. Some of these vagabonds were even swimming in the tanks, which I am sure is not permitted, but this is India, after all, and here the authorities don’t do anything about it unless you’re a foreigner!
Along with Hawa Mahal and the Amber Fort, Galwar Bagh should certainly be on your bucket list when travelling in and around Jaipur. However, this is only applicable as long as you can tolerate large groups of monkeys, for it is not known as the Monkey Temple for nothing!