Galtaji Temple is an ancient temple complex as well as a popular local Hindu pilgrim in Jaipur. There’s an interesting history of Galta ji. The name Galta is derived from Rishi Galav who as per the local legend worshiped for 100 years. Pleased with his austerity & devotion, the almighty blessed this place with a perennial fountain of holy water. There’s a sacred bathing tank where Hindu pilgrims take a holy dip. During the reign of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II who founded Jaipur, many temples were built in this area. Surya Mandir is one of the prominent temples. Galtaji lies beyond the eastern hill range of Aravalis & can be reached either through Galta Gate or Ghat Ki Guni although former is popular due to its proximity to the city.
Inspiration for “Jaipur Then & Now” series is 290 years of founding of Jaipur city. Jaipur was founded on 18 November 1727 AD as India’s first planned city by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II.
Here is a picture of path that leads to Galtaji overlooking Sun Temple from Galta Gate. This picture was captured by Gobindram Oodeyram, a leading photo studio during the end of 19th century.
I’m reproducing a small excerpt from “Handbook of the Punjab, western Rajputana, Kashmir, and Upper Sindh” by John Murray (Firm) Edward Backhouse which journals author’s travel to Jaipur during 1880 AD & describes Galta.
“Galta– Another day may be spent in visiting the shrine of the “Sun God” which is situated on the summit of a range of hills, about 1 1/2 m. to the E. of Jaypur. The traveller may go on an elephant, or if he prefers it, walk. The road for a m. in length is paved with rough stones. It goes in a zigzag up the Ghat, and at 200 ft. up are some neat banglas, built for people to witness the procession from the Temple of the Sun, which is about 350 ft. above the plain, and built on a jutting rocky platform. It is a plain building, with an octagonal vestibule supported by pillars. The view from it over the city is perhaps the best that can be had. In particular one should remark the sandy desert, which is encroaching from the S.W. The sand has caused one large suburb to be deserted, and the houses and garden are going to ruin. The sand has even drifted up a ravine to the N. of the Temple of the Sun. This evil ought to be arrested at any cost. Just beyond the banglas and half-way to the temple is a small alcove, with a statement in Hindi of the expenses incurred in making the road, and half-way before reaching the banglas is a Hindi inscription on the rock, on the right hand, saying that the road was constructed by Shim Lai, of the Kayath caste, and his brother, who were governors of Jaypur about 60 years ago.”
Here is a photo of Galta Gate shot 150 years after the Jaipur was founded in 1727 AD. I ‘m not 100% sure but it’s likely that the photographer of this picture is Lala Deen Dayal, one of the early photographers in India. Lala Deen Dayal captured the life on Indian streets, famous monuments as well as portraits of royalty during second half of 19th century.
This picture shows Galta Gate as the only standing structure in the area along with few Chhatris (dome shaped pavilions) on its right & sand dunes.Then Galtaji was at edge of Jaipur city limits, a little further from the Surajpole Gate, which was one of the 9 entry points to the city. Just beyond this gate was a wall which ran all along the perimeter of Jaipur as a fortification. One can see this wall in the above picture.
Let me show you another picture which I took earlier this year where I have tried to capture the same spot.
Galta Gate still stands where it was but there’s an enormous amount of construction & buildings in the vicinity. Chhatris on its right can still be spotted, which now is a Hindu cremation site. Close to Galta Gate is a highway which leads to Delhi.
The development over 150 years is understandable but the haphazard & unauthorized construction one sees in the vicinity is an eyesore. Due to the populist policies and vote bank, authorities never bothered to check on it. There is lot of filth near Galta Gate because this is a Hindu pilgrim site. People feed cows, monkeys, and other animals with offerings to earn good karma. One often comes across banana peels, grains, fodder strewn all over & animals loitering everywhere.
It is not that cleaning doesn’t happen, the area is being cleaned on a regular basis but it is just not enough.
To be honest, I prefer not to visit this area because of these reasons. I have mentioned this in one of my earlier post – Surya Mandir/ Sun Temple, Jaipur…Stupefying Views!
Litter, animals, unauthorized encroachments, damaged foot path are difficult to bear with. While the government is spending a huge sum of money on private temple trusts in the vicinity, this area has been ignored. Authorities must understand that many foreign tourists visit Galtaji temple because it is a tourist attraction. Galtaji Temple is famous among foreign tourists as Monkey Temple because of a large number of resident monkeys.
It is really a pity to see this entire route from Galta Gate to Galta Temple in such a state. It was a scenic route and residents would often hike up the Galta hills for the great view and to enjoy nature. This is a prominent route for reaching Galtaji Temple. I’m hoping that authorities will take some action and restore its old glory. At the same time residents too need to do their bit by not littering.
Let me end here with another travelers account of Galtaji. This time from a Banarasi Brahmin – Vyas Ramashankar Sharma who visited Jaipur during 1903 AD accompanying a rich widow Dhanadevi Mahodaya as her personal secretary.
“23 January. One and half kos (3 miles) from here is famous Galta, with numeroud temples worth seeing. To reach it, one has to climb up a hill, so a palanquin with eight bearers was arranged for Shri Sarkar Sahiba. We got up in half an hour. The hills are high and with binoculars one can see the magnificent town and forts. Galta has splendid mountain scenery. A waterfall feeds two large tanks. There is a small Shri Ram Temple and many other small buildings………….”
All old pictures have been sourced from Internet. In case, some one has any issues with this post, kindly let me know.