Those who want to watch monkeys in Bali usually go to Monkey Forest in Ubud. However, not far from there is Sangeh, where you will find monkeys and beautiful temples with fewer tourists. According to the locals, this forest is three centuries old. The Sangeh Forest, that originally passed down from generation to generation, is said to have been built as a secret royal garden for the Mengwi kingdom. The iconic and sacred nutmeg trees in this forest come from the slopes of Mount Agung. However, the secret garden became public among the people. This is where the name Sangeh came from. Sangeh means “publicly known”.
Besides watching monkeys, you can admire unique temples in this 13-hectare forest. The largest is the Pura Bukit Sari temple built by the Mengwi family in the 17th century. This temple anchors Vishnu, the god of prosperity. In the 17th century, the adopted son of the king of Mengwi is said to have received a heavenly message to build a temple on the Sari Hill. When he first arrived at the site, it turned out to be one of the barest spots he had ever seen. Obediently, he turned this bare spot into a green paradise. With the help of god Ida Bhatara, he teleported nutmeg trees and other plants from the sacred Mount Agung. This was not the only magical occurrence, because hundreds of monkeys were sent to the area of the temple. These monkeys immediately took up their positions and served as protectors in and around the temple. Some locals claim that when they pray and are very focused, they can communicate with these monkeys and see the sacred nutmeg trees walking around.
Various monkey tribes live in this sacred nutmeg forest. These sacred monkeys inhabit both the forests and the temples. The monkeys are used to people. When you approach the monkeys, they will not run away. Try not to panic if a monkey jumps at you. They won’t hurt you and if you stay calm they will go away on their own. Most of the monkeys in the forest are the Macaques monkeys. They are there of all ages, from small baby monkeys to vigorous adult monkeys. Guides will guide you around during the walk in the forest. They generally bring food with them, so you can feed the monkeys and take photos with them. Sometimes monkeys take the opportunity to grab belongings from visitors. Therefore, it is recommended to keep a close eye on or jewellery, glasses, and other valuables.