Thanks to one of my friends who requested to see a sunset, I wandered upon the Nagargarh Fort, where we spent a few hours seeing the sun go down over the city of Jaipur. It was an oasis of peace in Jaipur, which was buzzing with activities below us. For someone who had been to Jaipur a couple of times before, this was a great find but there was more in store.
I had another request in the group…to see a sunrise. After asking around and taking a poll, I decided to take my friends to Galtaji, a Hindu pilgrimage nestled in the Aravalli range on the outskirts of Jaipur. Pilgrims comes from various places to bathe in one of the many kunds (water tanks) situated in the complex. As we were there on the day of Makar Sakranti, a festival which marks the beginning of spring, we were hoping to see Galtaji crowded with pilgrims.
At five on a cold winter morning, the four of us decided to climb the hills at Galta. With every step we took, the magnificence of Galta dawned on us, its beauty magnified by the hills that surrounded it. As we climbed the steps, we could already see a few pilgrims taking a bath in the water tank. Brrr…just looking at them gave me the shivers. Soon, we left the temple complex behind and climbed up to the Surya Temple (Sun Temple) on the top of the hill. And then we waited. For the next hour or so, we could only hear a few men talking and laughing loudly, and some people who were climbing the hill from the other side of town. The experience was magical as the sky changed it’s colour from pitch black to hues of blue and finally yellow as the sun came up. It was also the quietest hour and a half we spent together, everyone inhaling the fresh winter air, engrossed in their own thoughts. Sometimes, you don’t need to say a word and still have the best time together!
As the sun rose up, we started a descent. Galta is known for its monkey population and we were finally going to witness it. One by one, groups of monkeys took over our path, feeding on the food the pilgrims distributed. Even for an Indian, seeing hundreds of monkeys in a span of ten minutes, left me speechless. Making sure that we had no food in our hand, we made our way down and back home.
The best things in life are either free or cheap…and it was correct in our case.