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The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud covers about 27 greenery filled acres of land which provides a serene home to over 600 long-tailed macaques. These monkeys are classified into 4 groups in accordance with the areas of the park that they occupy. The sanctuary is an eminent cultural and spiritual landmark that hosts about 10,000 visitors each month. The sanctuary is owned and operated under the leadership of the Padangtegal. The forest itself is sacred to the villagers and there are a few sacred sites located within the reserve that draws from the Balinese Hindu beliefs revolving around death and reincarnation. The Temple of Death, Temple of Cremation and Holy Springs Bathing Temple are among the few sacred sites inside. The area is also home to many Ubud Villas such as Alila Ubud Bali and many other lodging service providers that cater to the large crowds that visit the sanctuary on a monthly basis.
If you are wondering how monkeys fit into the life and death beliefs of Indonesia, the Ramayana epic gives you all the answers. The epic goes on to say that Sita the wife of Rama is abducted by the evil king Ravana. Rama is said to have enlisted the help of Sugriva and Hanuman who both resemble monkeys, to bring her back safely. Hanuman and Sugriva battle many antagonistic monkeys ruled by Ravana before they finally bring Sita safely home. The villagers, who believe in the religious lore, both love and hate the monkeys which they feed daily and revere. At the same time, their mischief which escalates to stealing household items of the villagers also turns the villagers’ reverence into malice when the monkeys attack and bite them, becoming a menace to the village.
Shehera Fioni is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Catalina Forbes. Her content is based on many thrilling escapades offered to travellers across the world.