It’s hot in India. Really hot. Is it possible here to escape the chaos of the city and cool down? Next to the high temperatures it hasn’t rained in a long time. People are waiting, almost praying, for the monsoon rains to arrive.
Water in India is scarce and rivers floating through cities are terribly polluted (honestly, they are just open sewers). No rain, means no harvest. No harvest means no food. It’s that simple. This is the time when the monsoon rains (normally) arrive. India is the land of festivals so welcoming the monsoon is a great reason to celebrate!
This festival is called the Teej festival. We witnessed a couple of parades each day where women carry water in clay bowls on their head. Men carry water as well, but in jars attached to wooden sticks. There is music all around and some of the parades include decorated elephants. We were told these people carried the water all the way from the Galta temple (see later on) down to many of the Shiva temples in Jaipur. They walked the 2 or 3 miles on sand, stones and boiling asphalt on bare feet….
Galta or Monkey Temple
People in India need rainwater but also adore holy water to bathe and rinse out their sins (who wouldn’t want that?). There is one great place in Jaipur where you can find holy water….and take a dip in it yourself if you dare to! This place is called the Galta temple (or Monkey temple because of the many monkeys swarming the place and bathing as well!).
Thousands of people travel to the Galta Temple in Jaipur to bath in the holy water. The temple is actually build in a gorge amidst a lush green landscape. Going to the temple by foot provides great views of the area (but it’s a real challenge in these months when temperatures are always between 30 and 35 degrees Celcius!). But it’s worth the effort and not to be missed when in Jaipur!
You can see men and women bathing, complete families enjoying themselves. A fun thing to watch: it’s colorful and all the people seem happy…the cool water is so much welcomed.
Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds
Cooling down…..also in the times of the Maharajas there was a desperate need for escaping the heat of the desert. The many (many) wives of the Maharaja here in Jaipur had to observe strict ´purdah´ (face cover) and weren´t allowed to go out on the streets that much. To still offer them a glimpse of the ‘real’ life without being seen, the Maharaja built the Hawa Mahal in 1799. It’s a very narrow facade where the women could take place behind one of the 935 small windows. Here they could look down on the streets…
Great benefit of the open structure of the building is the wind blowing right through it. They also call this the Palace of the Winds. The pictures below also show some of the street life in front of Hawa Mahal.
Fellow blogger Wendy shared good information about a cycling tour in Jaipur. Great way to discover the city!
Click here to read about our adventures in Delhi!