Friday, August 15, 2008

A dreadful visit to the Monkey Temple.

We found out about the Jaipur’s Monkey Temple online and the reviews were overall good so we asked our guide to take us there.After about a 40 min drive we arrived to the temple and, as we were going in, a couple of tourists were coming out looking not too happy. Any way, we kept walking towards the actual temple which is about 200 meters from the parking lot.

It was a very hot day, and when we arrived the smell was kind of disturbing, but not too bad as to make us turn our backs and leave so we went towards the main door – darn, if we had known then what was waiting for us when we crossed that door we would have turned on our heels and left as fast as possible, alas this was not the case.

As we entered the complex we met a breath taking temple painted in yellow tones and beautifully ornamented with drawings typical from Jaipur. The place was just magnificent with buildings on both sides of a little road which led to a larger structure built in the middle of two marble mountains.

Each of the buildings was decorated with domes of different sizes and shapes, and they had balconies and windows adorned with rich stonework that showed the dedication and skill of the artisans that built them.

Following our guide we kept walking towards what he told us was the highlight of the complex: the main building at the end of the road that guards three sacred pools.

Those pools are sacred to Hinduism believers, and bathing in them brings blessings to the devotees. The pools are fed by water that comes out of the mountain, although its origins are unknown, therefore people consider it holy.

Going our way up a woman came to us to paint a red dot on our foreheads (this is a blessing, I believe), then she made it very clear that she wanted money in exchange and, since I was the last one of the four of us, it was up to me to give her something. I had some change in my pocket so I took out a note (a rather large one) and while I was taking out the other smaller note this woman pushed me and just as fast took both notes out of my hand and then went away. I know what you’re thinking: this was my fault for being so slow and not preconceive that even inside a sacred temple people would steal from you, but what can I say? One would believe that inside a temple one would be safe, no? Guess I was wrong.

Any way, I kept going up the stairs and suddenly heard N. call my name and yell "be careful with the snake!". I was probably a bit slow in grasping what he said since, remember, I’ve just been robbed a few steps down, but when I innocently looked to my side I find myself facing a cobra with its neck totally open and moving right to my leg -- here's where I left a torrent of cursed words in Spanish come out of my mouth, and pretty much fled towards my companions.

There were about 300 more stairs to go up, and on our left side we had two of the three pools which I couldn't really pay attention to since the stairs were almost completely covered in human and monkey waste, banana peels, trash, and thousands of flies.

At this point I really wanted to get out of there immediately, but our guide kept going up (since he turned out to be a devout believer of the sacred waters), my brother was looking at the actual temple and the mountains completely absorbed by whatever, and N. was nowhere to be seen. I just took a deep breath (covering my mouth and nose so as not to smell my surroundings) and carefully leaped my way up the stairs.

About midway up it came to me the idea that if the stairs were awful in the area where the humans are, then they would be disastrous around the monkey's pool so I prepared myself for the worst. Fortunately the monkeys are apparently cleaner than the humans since the surroundings of the monkey pool was not half as dirty and gross as a few stairs down.

At this point we pretty much had enough and we just went down the stairs as fast as we could, trying to get out of the temple soon. Also then I understood why the tourists we saw on their way out looked so grossed out.

On our way out we saw our guide get some of the water in the floor and rub it on his face and head. This is the same water where somebody else had washed his feet after walking over the stairs dirty with poop.

So ... if you ever in your life happen to be in Jaipur and hear about the monkey temple, save yourself the trip and just go shopping for tablecloths because that place was bad beyond any description I may give you.

I must add though, that it is a real pity that the Monkey Temple is not well kept since the building is simply gorgeous and with a little work and much more hygiene it has the potential of being a major touristic attraction.

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