Bali, the paradise island of Indonesia, is known for its natural beauty and protected wildlife. One of the well known forest reserves is the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud. As per the legend, the forest is home to thousands of monkeys who are said to be the guardians of the forest god. The fact that monkeys snatch belongings, had scared us initially and we voted against visiting the forest. However, as Ubud Palace turned out to be a fifteen minutes affair, we shunned our inhibitions, crossed our fingers and bought tickets to the Sacred Monkey Forest. Trust me, it was worth it.
Though the monkeys are harmless most of the times, they might crawl up your back and sit on your shoulders asking for a treat. Better cling to your belongings and try not to open your bag in front of them. We did not encounter any angry primate apart from a baby monkey who jumped to husband while opening the camera bag, thinking we would feed it. We got away safely. Phew!
Spread over 12.5 hectares of land, the lush green forest has more than 186 species of trees and several points of interest to explore. It generally takes 2.5-3 hours to see the forest. Each artifact in the forest is a masterpiece of Balinese architecture. It is the raw unspoiled beauty that makes these so authentic. The statues stand tall in their full glory without artificial reconstructions. It amazes to see the untouched structures with slippery green moss. May be that's how they preserve the natural beauty.
The starting point of the forest is the Center Point which exhibits a fountain, animal statues and signboards with directions. The fountain has animal structure drinking water from this pool. Imagine, this was made long ago even before the forest was open to public. Good imagination leads to great innovations and I found this particularly cute.
We started walking left from the center point and descended a flight of stairs which was the way towards Holy Spring Temple.
Like all temples of Bali, this was too closed for public. You can only appreciate the beauty from outside. A beautiful pool, full of gold fish, with spring water source, across the temple accentuates it’s beauty.
Behind the temple, a little Wooden Bridge brings you to the end of that part of the forest. Sans monkeys and less footfall of tourists, this makes a great place for photo opportunity. So could not miss one :)
As you walk back, you would cross the Dragon Statue and long Wooden Path, leaving you stunned with their finesse.
The most striking structure of the forest is the Main Temple, where every corner is an example of sheer brilliance. The Hindu temple is surrounded by statues of monkeys as well as real ones, which throng the place for food.
Exploring further you'd cross the open stage, where occasional events are organized. The amphitheater was a pit stop to take a much needed break for our tired feet. We had covered more than half of the forest area by then and my new shoes gave me shoe bites. AS we relaxed marveling the beauty, we watched baby monkeys cooling off themselves in a pool nearby.
Apart from the above, an exhibition hall is also a part of the forest, which was not open that day.
As the Sun and clouds played hide and seek, the hues of the forest kept changing shades from light green to deep emerald. Green not only makes you happy but also energetic. At least I was full of energy and positive vibes after touring the forest. Perhaps the effect of abundant oxygen? Natural beauty and playful monkeys gets the forest a footfall of more than 10,000 every month. Still need a reason to visit this delightful place? Think not. Plan your trip now!
Some vital info for all readers-
-The monkeys do not harm or attack you unless provoked or threatened. They are busy eating or lazing around most of the times.
-The forest guards are present anyway to help if required.
-You can buy food for the monkeys in case you want them to jump on your back. Do not scare or hit them, especially the ones with their babies. Remember its their home and you are the visitor intruding into their privacy.
-Do not look them into the eye and stay away from the alpha males or angry ones lest the entire herd should attack you.
-Ladies, you would be required to walk a lot. Wear shoes or flats. Heels are a big no no.
-Be dressed in comfy cottons as the jungle tends to be humid and hot.
-Not wheelchair friendly.
Entry ticket to Monkey Forest- 50,000 IDR
Location- Ubud in Kabupaten Gianyar
Timings- 8:30am to 6pm
Nearby places- Ubud Palace, Ubud Art Market