Galtaji is a narrow valley on the eastern hill range in Jaipur. It is famous for Galta Temple & Galta Kund, an important pilgrimage in Jaipur which dates to the ancient times. Complete details on the history of Galtaji 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 sacred water of Ganges. It still flows and accumulates in a tank meant for the holy dip called Galta Kund. Some reports suggest that ever since the spring water source dried up, water is sourced from a well with the help of electric motor. I guess keeping the traditions alive is important to ensure devotees are not disappointed!
According to M.M. Ninan, an important author on Hinduism, Galtaji had a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva dating to 600 AD. Some claim that this temple still exists in the form of a cave temple. Galta Ji is popular among tourists as Jaipur Monkey temple.
I have visited these temples many times over the years. I realized its real beauty when I started exploring recently.
1. What is History of Galta Temples?Apart from mythological aspect, historians and researchers have something more to add. As per common belief, jogis or babas used to live here till 16th century when one Ramanandi Sadhu by the name of Krishnadas Payo Hari came here & 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. Over the years, it became an important center of Ramanandi Hindus.
Ramananda was a saint following Ramanujacharya sect of Vaishnavism (Hinduism) 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 Vaishnava Hindus, over the passage of time many differences developed between their philosophies. Center of Ramanjuacharya Hinduism is in Tamil Nadu (Totadri Math) and for this very reason, Galtaji is called Uttar Totadri (North Totadri).
Importance of Galta Ji
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 the importance of these temples 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.
- It needs to be mentioned that the International ISKON movement started by Swami Prabhupada used Govind Bhashya as its founding philosophy. This was written in 1718 AD by Swami Baldeo Vidyabhusan in Galta Ji.
- It is being claimed that Mughal emporer Akbar also visited Galta Ji & sought blessings. Upon completion of his wish, he donated 2592 Bigha of land to the Archarya or head of Galta Ji. This grant is preserved and Galta Peeth considers it a historical document.
Galta Peeth follows a system of Archrya who presides over this place. The first Archarya was Payo Hari. It is now headed by 17th Archarya.
It is being mentioned in the script of Galvashram Mahatmaya that on a full moon day in the Hindu month of Kartik which is also known as Kartik Purnima, the trinity of Hindu Gods – Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva visit this place. Hence, taking a bath in the holy tank which is known as Galta Kund provides multiple blessings.
There is yet another belief that holy pilgrimage of four Dhams popular in Vaishnav Hindus and Sapt Puri is not complete unless one takes a holy dip in Galta Kund.
I’m not sure if this is widely believed or followed. However, unlike Char Dham or Sapta Puri, you are unlikely to find hordes of devotees flocking to Galta Ji. It is definitely popular among locals and neighboring area.
2. What are things to see in Galtaji?
Beautiful architecture of Galta Temples, Galta Kund, and monkeys.
This place draws a large number of devotees from the nearby villages since it’s an important local pilgrim too. Makar Sankranti & Kartik Purnima are few occasions when people throng here 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.
These temples were built during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, founder of Jaipur city in the early 18th century. There were small temples in nearby hills before these temples 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, lattices, the windows 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 annexes 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 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 the 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 close 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. There is no public transport facility from Ghat Ki Guni route. You will not find any cab or tuk-tuk for your return journey either. If you prefer to save money and use public transport or tuk-tuk, it is best to opt for Galta Gate route. Both public transport and tuk-tuk are available for Galta Gate from walled city area/ old Jaipur. It takes about 20 minutes of walking for a fit person to reach Galta Ji temple from the Galta Gate. I will suggest UBER Hire if you opt for Ghat Ki Guni route otherwise, UBER mini is available easily for Galta Gate from the city. Another alternative to UBER is OLA cab but fare tend to be slightly higher than UBER.
Read all related posts on Heritage Temples of Jaipur
4. What is Galta Temple Timing
It is open throughout the day for visitors. You can visit Galtaji Temples from sunrise to sunset.
5. What is the entry fee to Galtaji Temple?
There is no entry fee for visiting Galtaji Temples. However, the 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 temple management has limited resources to generate money, it counts.
Galta Ji is an offbeat tourist attraction in Jaipur. Recommended for those looking beyond the usual tourist places to see in Jaipur. A visit to Monkey Temple in Jaipur is enriching experience as it depicts the local culture and religion. 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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