Sangeh is a small village 20 km north of Denpasar, and home to one of the large attractions on Bali; the Bukit Sari monkey forest. Bukit Sari is famous for it’s old temple and of course the many macaque monkeys which rules the forest. The temple, Pura Bukit Sari, is probably built in the 17th century. In the temple yard there is an interesting statue of the mythical Garuda bird.

Bali, Badung, Sangeh. South of Sangeh, close to 100 women with offerings on their head. Everyone is dressed in traditional costumes. The musicians follow behind the women. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Badung, Sangeh. South of Sangeh, close to 100 women with offerings on their head. Everyone is dressed in traditional costumes. The musicians follow behind the women. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

According to Balinese tradition the place is mentioned in Ramayana, the epical Hindu poem. The legend tells about Hanuman, the monkey-god who in order to kill the evil demon Rawana took control of the gigantic cosmic mountain Mahameru. A piece of the mountain with monkeys still clinging to it fell down on Sangeh, since then the monkeys have been living here.

Bali, Badung, Sangeh. South of Sangeh, close to 100 women with offerings on their head. Everyone is dressed in traditional costumes. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Badung, Sangeh. South of Sangeh, close to 100 women with offerings on their head. Everyone is dressed in traditional costumes. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The tall nutmeg trees that surround the temple is unique on Bali and is looked upon as sacred. Nobody can explain how they came here, adding to the myths that cling to the site. Another mystery is that supposedly no monkey or remains of a monkey has ever been found here.

Bali, Badung, Sangeh. Macaque in the monkey forest. This is my kingdom, and I am the king! (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Badung, Sangeh. Macaque in the monkey forest. This is my kingdom, and I am the king! (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The monkeys are of the same species as those in Ubud, but a lot more obnoxious. If you bring food they will more than likely jump on top of you to grab the goodies. By all means do not try to take the food away or pet the animals, they may bite. If you follow these simple rules they make no problem and are just entertaining to look at. You can hire a guide at the entrance who will show you how to treat the animals, and who know how to scare away the most nasty of them. As usual do not have any loose belongings as they can easily be stolen by the monkeys, to be safe you can bring a stick.

In front of the temple there is a lot of souvenir stalls, Sangeh is easily a tourist trap. They are however easy to bypass. The forest entrance close at five o’clock and is open daily.

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Bjørn Grøtting

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Photographer based in Norway. See a collection of my best photos in the portfolio. Licensing of images is done through Photoshelter or alamy.
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