Set on the downhill end of Jalan Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali, the Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana, known in English as the Sacred Ubud Monkey Forest, is a 27-acre forested plot in the village of Padangtegal. The forest's residents are its main claim to fame: over 600 crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis) who inhabit the trees and interact with visitors - sometimes to the visitor's detriment!
The forest and its contents are held to be sacred by the residents of Padangtegal - the forest holds the village's pura dalem, or temple of death, where the cemetery and cremation area are also located. The temple's holiness is enhanced by presence of a holy relic in its inner sanctum.
- More information on village kahyangan tiga, or three temples, in our guide to Bali's temples.
The monkeys, far from interfering with worship in the pura dalem, actually enhance it - the macaques are believed to play an integral role to the practice of Balinese religion in the area. The village's management of the forest includes regular feeding of the monkeys, but years of interacting with careless tourists have encouraged the monkeys to steal from unsuspecting visitors.
In the next few pages, we'll explore the temple structures on the grounds, their historical and cultural significance, and meet the resident macaques up close. (Not too close.)
- For an overview of the Balinese belief systems behind the temple, read our overview of the culture of Bali.