Close Encounters with The Monkeys of The Sacred Forest

Featured writer: Bama

Hinduism in Bali is world-away from the one in India. In Bali, the balance of the nature is one of the main principles in life. That explains why many Balinese traditions are heavily influenced with animism which emphasizes the respect to the nature and the creatures that dwell in it. One of the creatures which enjoy a rather special treatment from Balinese people is the gray long-tailed macaques who live in almost every forest in Bali. The story of Ramayana also helps keeping their population healthy because it is said that when Ravana kidnapped Sita, monkey soldiers led by Hanuman fought against the king of Lanka to rescue Sita.

Heading to northeastern part of Bali, I made a stop at one of Bali’s most well-known sacred forests in Ubud where monkeys are well-fed and dwell freely. Unlike the ones in Uluwatu who often steal things from people, monkeys in Ubud behave much more nicely toward visitors. We can watch them very closely without having to worry that they might grab any of our belongings. Under the lush green canopy of the forest, they play around, show affection to each other, eat fruits and leaves, sleep and even fight while us, humans, watch them and giggle every time they do something funny.

Like other places in Bali, there is of course a temple inside the forest. As expected, the temple is adorned with many monkey statues and also the statue of Hanuman. However, like most temples in Bali, the temple at the monkey forest is closed for the public because it is considered as a holy place where only Hindus can enter. Nevertheless this place is worth a visit when you are in Bali, whether you are a monkey lover or not.

One thing that we can learn from this place is that human can choose to live peacefully side by side with animals by respecting their needs. We are here on earth not to destroy what’s in it, but we are responsible to keep the planet a humane place for all creatures.

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60 thoughts on “Close Encounters with The Monkeys of The Sacred Forest

  1. Pingback: I’m going to visit the monkeys (someday)!! « My Life in Paradise

    • funny!
      But I haven’t seen orangutans in the wild. Maybe my next trip will include a visit to their habitat in the forests of Borneo or Sumatra.


  2. What a great article. Your final paragraph is so true and says it all…”One thing that we can learn from this place is that human can choose to live peacefully side by side with animals by respecting their needs. We are here on earth not to destroy what’s in it, but we are responsible to keep the planet a humane place for all creatures.”


    • Thanks!
      Well, I can’t say myself an environmental activist or anything close to that. But it’s just so heartbreaking seeing more and more animals’ habitat being destroyed.


      • I agree. I don’t consider myself an activist either but one does have to care for all creatures great and small. It’s so nice to know about someone who cares! Thank you, again! Keep posting.


  3. I’m so excited, Very interesting information It is very beautiful. I loved how you identified there are so monkeys which respect human visitors which suggest there are those monkeys who do not. I have to tell you, I so curious but knowing me, I continue to read and receive my experience through your words. Thanks for the info wonderful. πŸ™‚


  4. Great article! The animism component is very interesting! I have to say the second photo of the monkey holding some kind of food made me think of the monkey in the “Lion King” who held baby Simba up. πŸ˜‰ Awesome photo captures! πŸ™‚ Diana


  5. Bama, I enjoyed your post. I had read of a sacred forest in Southeast Asia and places in India where monkeys roam free in the book “Don’t Feed the Monkeys.” So, I’m glad to see your pictures. The personalities of the monkeys shine through in the photos.


  6. We were there watching these monkeys trying to outwit a local selling bananas. They’d set up distractions and then a particularly agile one would duck in and grab a bunch.

    Couldn’t help laughing all the way back up the street. Ubud is a really nice relaxing place to stay btw!


  7. I love your postings, the monkeys and totally jealous your in Bali. I dream to go there someday! (I have to get over my fear of flying and boats before I could get there. ;))


  8. Hey Bama,
    I live a ten-minute walk away from Monkey Forest, so it’s nice to read your take on the creatures I see so often.. I only wish I’d remember each time to store away my food and water before walking through ‘their’ territory!
    Hope you had a restful Nyepi!


  9. Great pictures. Sounds like a great experience, and I really like you’re ultimate conclusion here. I also love the beginning. The roles of animals in Hindu religious texts is fascinating and delightful.


  10. Your blog is so cool! Had to comment on this one… how amazing is that forest! You can’t get away with taking bananas through without being attacked haha! The monkeys are so used to people- I was told that some are even trained to pick-pocket people! Did you get warned about that one??


  11. Pingback: Close Encounters with The Monkeys of The Sacred Forest « What an Amazing World!

  12. What I remember about Bali was that everything seemed cheaply made. I felt like I could superman punch the corner off of any building if I felt like it. Also, the staff at one of the hotels I stayed at lined up one morning and walked bent over across the grass courtyard. It took me a while to realize they were cutting the grass by hand. Weird. Nice to visit but I was glad to not have to live there.


  13. It seems like a very nice place (with nice & friendly monkey, too!). i had been to Uluwatu twice (I didn’t got the chance to see Kecak dance on my 1st visit, so I visited it for the 2nd time). I haven’t got the chance to go to Ubud. It’s such a shame considering that the last time I was in Bali, I spent 6 weeks on the island. I’m definitely visiting this place next time!


  14. Important and wonderful words – to leave in peace with animals and nature, not to destroy them. Beautiful post and amazing photos, I just love them and would really like to see them a little bit bigger.
    Reblogging on


  15. Pingback: Close Encounters with The Monkeys of The Sacred Forest « Frozen Moments

  16. i LOVE LOVE LOVE bali. we stayed in ubud and learned how to batik, cook, make jewelry, it was fantastic. went to the temples too and a monkey climbed onto my brother-in-law’s shoulder and stole his glasses right off his face. it ran up a tree only to smash the glasses and drop the pieces in front of us. it was funny and maddening at the same time.


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