I'm near finished editing through the almost 8,000 photos I took while traveling around SE Asia and India. In the meantime, I thought I'd make another post to continue my Well Met photo project, jumping ahead a few cities to Jaipur. Below are some photos from our visit to the Galta Monkey Temple complex outside of Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. There were tons of rhesus macaque monkeys flying around, trying to steal our bags and snacks, but we were able to visit with some of the local sadhus, pilgrims, and priests and spend an afternoon wandering around the mostly deserted temple grounds (hooray for off-season touring!) The temple's main attractions are the spring-fed pools, which are rather auspicious to bath in for Hindu pilgrims that visit.
Vijay is a temple priest in the Hanuman (Indian monkey god) temple at Galta. He came to the temple about 3 years ago from his home in Uttar Pradesh, and had just turned 18. As we walked around the temple grounds, he pointed to all of the different relics and Hindu gods, and what each one stood for. He also took me down into the depths of the temple to bless me with "good luck" in front of the Hanuman statue. I tried to politely decline, saying that I had no money for a donation, but he insisted anyways. After a small bit of chanting and a new string bracelet, I was freshly imbued with some luck, and we walked back up to the entrance of the temple. As we walked, I asked him how long he wanted to stay in the temple, seeing as how many of the priests come from a life outside of religion and return to it after a stay in the temple. He said that has no immediate plans to leave the temple, and in his limited English told me that he enjoys living the simple life of a priest. I asked him what advice he had about life, and he pragmatically responded, "Live life as you like."
Duba, another priest who is living with Vijay in the temple, spoke almost no English, with the exception of "Hello, sir. Please visit my temple!" But despite our lack of spoken communication, we were still able to connect through some miming and smiles. Like Vijay, Duba hails from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and had been living in the temple for over 12 years (from what I could gather).
As far as I could tell, the priests were for the most part, completely detached from the material world, living their lives as ascetics. But one thing they all seemed to posses was a cellphone that connected them (rather poorly) to the internet. So in addition to making some new acquaintances, I also had the pleasure of setting up Duba's Facebook profile, since the sign up page required more English and technical know-how than they possessed.
As the wind started to pick up and a storm approached, it was time for Sacha and I to head back to the safety of our hotel, and I couldn't help but think I had just walked off the set of an Indiana Jones movie.