The notice board should have read, ‘welcome to the world of monkeys.’
If you have explored the world of Mogli from the popular TV serials of the 90’s, adapted from Rudyard Kipling’s book, you’ll instantly know where you've wandered into. It was as if you woke up in the world of monkeys. I have no doubt in my mind that Rudyard Kipling in some way or the other was influenced by this temple when he wrote the ‘Jungle Book’ in Shimla.
Jakhoo temple is 2.5 km east of the Ridge. It is at 2455m above the sea level and is also the highest peak in Shimla. If you take a small road that cuts between Christ Churchand State Library at The Ridge, you’ll come across an arrow-mark on the wall directing towards Jakhoo temple. You just have to follow the steep, ever ascending road. It’s easier than you imagine.
The day I did my climb was a rainy day. So I had an umbrella that could also be used as a walking stick, when it wasn’t raining. I had vowed myself that I’ll walk as much as I could. Shimla was just the right place. You could just have the winding road to yourself. There are pleasantly looking houses all along the way; than, steadily the deodars took over on the upper crest of Jakhoo Hill.
Some monkeys swayed on the tress nearby, some just sat there under thick clumps of leaves to stay dry from the drizzle. A monkey climbed down from a tree and scurried by my side before it ran ahead towards the direction of the temple. I just took it for a welcoming gesture.
At the entrance there were troops of monkeys guarding the temple premises, all the way to the temple. It all seemed fitting for the army of monkeys to stand guard around the World’s tallest statue of Lord Hanuman, inaugurated in 2010. The ancient Hanuman temple on Jakhoo peak is believed to be the site where Lord Hanuman stopped to rest while he was looking for the plant Sanjivni Booti to revive Lakshman from epic Ramayana.
The main temple is small and not as imposing as the giant statue of Lord Hanuman . It is the busiest during Dushera. Devotees usually rang the bell while offering prayers for good luck charms.
Thick clouds enveloped the peak and I couldn't even see Lord Hanuman statue clearly. After I had tea and some snacks at the only canteen, the rain started pouring again. I had only seen wet days in Shimla since my arrival, so it gave me no hope to wait for the sky to clear.
The rain was incessant. Some monkeys had taken shelter inside the tin roof entrance-way. The monkeys were on top and men and women stranded in the rain stood in a group. People entering the temple did so in groups holding hands and sticks. They even refused to stare at the monkeys, not to incur their wrath. I wasn't bothered because I had a big umbrella. I waved it now and then to scare the monkeys and to make way for myself. Then something nasty happened. A rowdy monkey jumped on my shoulder trying to ransack some biscuits I had kept at one of the side pockets in my bag.
After all it’s the World of the monkeys.