Galtaji is a narrow valley on the Eastern side of Jaipur famous for the Galta Temples & kund. It is an important pilgrimage in Jaipur and dates to ancient times. Complete details on Galtaji history is not available but according to the local legend it is named after famous Rishi Galav who made his penance here for 60,000 years. Pleased with his devotion, almighty blessed this place with a perennial source of holy water which many people believe is the sacred water of Ganges. It still flows from ground spring and accumulates in a tank meant for the holy dip called Galta Kund. According to M M Ninan, an important author on Hinduism, Galtaji had temple dedicated to Lord Shiva dating to 600 AD. Some claim that this temple still exists in the form of a cave temple. Galtaji Temples are popular among foreign tourists as Monkey Temple.
I have visited the these temples many times over the years but never enjoyed visiting here because of many reasons. It was only recently that when I started exploring that I realized its real beauty and history behind it.
1. History of Galta Temples
Apart from mythological side of Galtaji history, historians and researchers have something more to add. As per common belief, jogis or babas used to live in Galtaji till 16th century when one Ramanandi Sadhu by the name of Krishnadas Payo Hari came to Galtaji & drove them away with his mystical & spiritual powers. It is believed that Krishnadas was a payobhaksha, living on “milk only” diet. This led to the word Payo being added to his name. It became an important center of Ramanandi Hindus.
Ramananda was a saint following Ramanujacharya sect of Vaishnavism (Hindusim) in medieval India. Ramanandis worship Lord Ram as well as Vishnu and consider themselves descendant of Luv & Kush, son of Lord Rama. Although Ramanandis fall under Ramanujacharya sect of Vaishanav Hindus, over time many differences developed between their philosophies. Center of Ramanjuacharya Hindusim is in Tamil Nadu (Totadri Math) and for this very reason Galtaji is called Uttar Totadri (North Totadri).
Galtaji is an important religious center for Vaishnav Hindus. In recent years, there has been a strong tussle for power among Ramanandis and Ramanjuachrya sect, which led to a court case. There’s lots more to Hindu religion than what I can explain here; I’ll reserve it for the future post.
If you have a lingering question on importance of Galtaji in Hindu religion, here are some facts.
- The famous Indian poet Tulsidas spent 3 years in Galtaji and composed “Ayodhya Kand” chapter of the famous Ramcharitramanas.
- Shri Nabha Das composed Bhaktamal/ Sri Bhakta Maal in Galtaji.
2. Things to see in Galtaji
Beautiful architecture of Galta Temples, Galta kund and monkeys.
This place draw a large number of devotees from the nearby villages since it’s an important local pilgrim too. Makar Sakranti & Kartik Purnima are few occasions when people throng Galtaji in large numbers for the holy dip at Galta Kund.
Even though these temples are a big tourist attraction, I have always found that locals outnumber tourists.
Galta temples were built during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, founder of Jaipur city in early 18th century. Before these temples were built, there was a small temple in nearby hills which are now in a ruined state.
These temples have beautiful frescoes & paintings from the Indian mythology and Hindu religion on the walls & ceilings. The architecture is mesmerizing as it uses canopies/ chhatri, lattice, window in a unique style which is a hallmark of Jaipur architecture.
Out of the three temples, two have been constructed in haveli style- Shri Gyan Gopal ji temple & Shri Sitaram ji temple. The latter being the biggest among all temples at Galtaji.
Shri Sitaramji Temple has five sanctums & idols of Lord Rama depicting various life stages.
There is a popular belief that the idol of Shri Ram Gopal ji in Shri Sitaramji Temple resembles both Lord Krishna and Lord Rama.
There’s a small temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman in one of the annex of this temple. The temple management claims that it has Akhand Jyoti, a flame that’s never put off since the idol was consecrated centuries ago. I’m not sure of this claim since there’s no way to verify the same.
Shri Gyan Gopal ji temple is a smaller of the two and contains idol of Lord Krishna. This compound also houses a school for the students and disciples.
Due to 1981 Jaipur floods Galta Temples were submerged. Thankfully, restoration brought back its glory.
Visitors will notice presence of monkeys everywhere in Galtaji. While this may startle some but they are harmless unless provoked. Monkeys are used to seeing people around as devotees visit Galtaji to offer them food.
Stay safe by ensuring you are not carrying any food items with you. It is best to stash it in your bag, away from the prying eyes of monkeys. They cannot differentiate between a devotee & a tourist!
A new temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman has recently been constructed near the entrance. Despite the fact that tourists refer Galtaji as monkey temple, there’s no connection of monkeys directly with the temple. It is being called so because of monkeys around .
3. How to reach Galtaji Temple?
Surrounded by hills on all three sides, one can reach Galtaji temple by a hilly path which starts from Galta Gate or through Ghat ki Guni. Former is essentially a pedestrian route and closer to the city.
Caveat: Do note that Galta Gate path is filthy and full of aggressive monkeys.
The latter route is longer, approximately 10-12 km from the city center and passes through a beautiful alley called Ghat Ki Guni as well as a forest.
If you don’t prefer pedestrian path or walking, this is the only choice you have. Once you reach Galtaji, this view will greet you.
4. Galta Temple Timing
You can visit Galtaji Temples from sunrise to sunset. Galtaji is open throughout the day for visitors.
5. Galtaji Entry Fee
There is no entry fee for visiting Galtaji Temples. However, Galtaji temple management charges Rs 50 for camera/ mobile photography which I feel is not unreasonable. You can also make an offering if you wish, to help the management in maintaining this heritage & pilgrim site. Given the fact that Galta temple has limited resources to generate money, it will definitely help.
Galtaji is an offbeat tourist attraction in Jaipur. Recommended for those looking beyond the regular places to see in Jaipur. From my own experience, you will enjoy this important religious & heritage site when you have someone who can narrate its history, otherwise its just another place.
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