As I sit here my kitchen acknowledging all of the things I should be doing, I decide instead to write another blog.
Galwar Bagh, the Monkey temple is an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site in the town of Khania-Balaji, about 10km away from Jaipur, in Rajasthan. It consists of several temples and is set around a natural spring, waterfalls, and sacred kunds (water tanks), that create two-tiered pools where pilgrims bathe. It is believed that a Saint named Galav lived here and practiced meditation in an effort to achieve self-realization.
It is known as the Monkey temple in travel literature, due to the large tribe of monkeys who live here. The insanely intelligent and quite evil, Rhesus macaque. They are so aggressive, that here they easily intimidate the larger Langur monkeys. Interestingly enough, in Delhi, Langurs were trained to keep Rhesus monkeys from harassing people. They were on guard for decades to keep out armies of the smaller monkeys that plagued Delhi, keeping order in the streets and the hallowed halls of parliament.
So, when I walked here with my friends and my guide, I was surprised to see no monkeys at all.
Our guide then introduces us to the “Monkey whisperer”. He makes a few sounds, “Chahk, chahk, chahk”….and monkeys appear from behind every rock, every wall and every window from the temple. They stare at us. He calls again, “Chahk, chahk, chahk”, they begin to run down the rocks, walls and temple windows toward us.
He tells me to give him my peanuts and camera, and tells me to hold one peanut so the monkeys have to reach for it. I do this while he takes photos. I laugh as the babies reach and play. I’m wary of the mothers; I have seen their wrath on my previous trip to India.
One mother comes toward me, what a face, not friendly, entitled, she wants the darn peanut. I’m going to make her work for it, I hold it up, she stares at me in the eyes and smacks me right in the face! Not surprised, I burst out laughing! I stick to feeding the babies!
I see Langur monkeys waiting at the top of the temple. I ask our monkey whisperer if we can feed them. My experiences with Langurs has shown them to be a more peaceful and playful animal. They have never stolen my food, shown me their fangs, or smacked me in the face. They have only shown me how they play and how high they can jump.
They don’t disappoint!
Then, the Macaques race up the stairs to chase the Langurs away. I ask the “whisperer” if he can bring them back. “No, they are afraid, they won’t be back.”
We walked back down and sat in the temple looking at the strings tied near the well and on the fence surrounding the tulsi plants. He told me what they meant, their meaning has slipped from my mind. I can’t bring it back. I watched the monks, I watched the sun fade. I wanted to stay with the monks, to watch the pilgrims wash in the sacred kunds, to linger here in the Jewel of Jaipur.