India // Rajasthan //

Galta “Monkey Palace”

Nestling in a steep-sided valley 3km east of Jaipur, Galta comprises a picturesque collection of 250-year-old temples squeezed into a narrow rocky ravine. Galta owes its sacred status in large part to a freshwater spring that seeps constantly through the rocks in the otherwise dry valley, keeping two tanks full. These putrid-smelling ponds are now the domain of more than five thousand macaque monkeys, which have earned Galta its nickname of the “Monkey Palace”. For many tourists the sight of the splashing monkeys outstrips the attraction of the temples themselves, though the assorted shrines, dedicated variously to Krishna, Rama and Hanuman, are attractively atmospheric. It’s also worth walking up to the spectacularly situated Surya Mandir, perched above the tanks on the ridgetop, which boasts dramatic views of the city below.

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