How many towns do you know of with a sacred monkey forest at the end of their main shopping street? Perhaps only Ubud, in the foothills of central Bali.
The Monkey Forest Road (or Monkey Forest Street, depending on who’s doing the typing) runs from Puri Ubud, the Ubud palace in the center of town, to a small forest inhabited by monkeys. Both the forest and the monkeys themselves are sacred. Here are some other things to know:
The forest is owned and managed by the village of Padang Tegal, whose graveyard and its associated temples are within the grounds. This is why it’s considered sacred.
There are three temples on the terrain, all said to date from the 14th century:
a. Pura Dalem Agung Padang Tegal, associated with Shiva and the souls of the uncremated dead
b. Pura Beji, a spring temple on the small river that runs through the grounds.
c. Pura Prajapati, associated with the adjacent graveyard.
Size: the forest covers approximately 10 hectares (27 acres) with over 115 species of trees.
Culture: The forest’s name in Balinese is Wana Wenara. (Wana means ‘forest’. Wenara is high Balinese for ‘monkey’. The monkeys are addressed with the respectful title, ‘Jero’.) The Balinese honor the monkeys because of their ambivalent character — as temple guardians they are both pure and fierce.
Money: Revenues from ticket sales go into village coffers to pay for religious ceremonies such as temple festivals and cremations.
Zoological: The monkeys are macaques (Macaca fascicularis), with a population around 600 individuals in five main tribes occupying different areas.
IMPORTANT: Food and monkey bites. The park managers feed the monkeys sweet potatoes three times a day. Bananas are available for visitors to feed them, but don’t tease them. Monkeys may become aggressive if they are teased with food. Monkey bites are considered a serious medical emergency.
Komaneka at Monkey Forest is a wonderful place to stay if you want to explore Ubud on foot. Its excellent location on the upper part of the Monkey Forest Road makes it a short walk to the main market and the cultural activities of Puri Ubud and nearby temples. A stroll to the Monkey Forest takes you past many shops, cafes, restaurants, and galleries. Yet despite its central location, the resort is an oasis of tranquility, set off the road in tall shady gardens, with a secluded infinity pool, luxurious interiors, and first-class service.