Sangeh is one of the most famous tourists destination in Bali. Sangeh is a forest located in Sangeh Village, District of Abiansemal, Badung Regency which is around 20 kilometers from the capital city (Denpasar). It could be reached in 45 minute driving or getting on public transportation. Besides its function as a tourism object, Sangeh is also an area of conservation forest with size of 14 hectare and most of its area are overgrown by trees of nutmeg (dipterrocarpustrinervis). These trees age hundred years and could reach 50 meters which are dwelled by around 700 grey monkeys (macaca faciculais) species.
The forest area in Sangeh is well preserved by the local villagers near its location. The monkeys are free to roam around without disturbance from human activities. This is also related to the local belief that the monkeys and this forest is sacred. This situation resulting a real atmosphere that could give you an experience of venturing a remote jungle, even though you are actually walking inside a town. Besides that, inside this forest there is also a complex of small temple called Puncak Sari Temple which is covered by green moss and hidden between the towering trees.
Actually, this lush forest is a bit unique because it is the only forest in the area and surrounded by rice fields and houses. There is two legends behind this unique forest. The first one is related to the epic Ramayana. Reputedly, when Hanuman (a monkey God in the story of Ramayana) lifted up the Mahameru Mountain, some of its part fell down in the place where now is Sangeh. This part grows well and the monkeys rule the area until now. The second story is when the King of Mengwi requested a secret construction of a park with the nutmeg trees taken from Agung Mountain. The secret construction was found out and the King abandoned the park construction. From that time, this area has grown by nutmegs and become a lush forest in the middle of a village.
When you first enter the area, at the gate you will see a big statue of a giant named Kumbakarna which is crowded and beaten by a lot of monkeys. This statue is a visualization of a fragment in Ramayana story which is very famous especially in Hinduism. After entering the gate, you will walk down the path around 200 meters heading into the nutmeg forest. In this area, the Puncak Sari Temple is located. In the end of the path, near the exit there is a sacred giant nutmeg tree which is called Lanang Wadon tree (man woman tree). It is named man and woman tree because this tree’s trunk do looks like genitals of man and woman.
The Life of Monkeys
The monkeys of Sangeh live as they have their own kingdom. Usually, they could be seen in group and every group has one leader. They also have one highest leader or king amongst all of the monkeys in the area. This leader or king live in the most spacious area of the forest. The rule of their life is similar like the human’s kingdom, for example the leader must always take precedence in particular situation, such as food sharing, and so forth. The monkeys of Sangeh are also known as the most naughtiest monkeys in Bali as they often annoy the tourists or steal their luggage. However, now these monkeys are more benign and not as wild as they were in the past. So, you should not afraid of visiting this place. However, it is highly suggested that you do not put on jewelries, glasses, mobile phones, or other small and precious things.
Around the area of Sangeh there are also some stands and shops selling various kind of souvenirs and also foods. The entrance ticket for visiting this place is only Rp 5.000. Inside, some staffs of the forests maintainer or local guides in Balinese clothes are ready to guide you to walk around the area of this forest. However, make sure you obey the rules of this area, such as dress modesty, do not disturb the monkeys, or be careful with your luggage because some of these monkeys are naughty enough to steal whatever you bring or put on around your body. It is suggested that before entering the Sangeh area, you buy a bag of peanuts around the shops in the parking lot for feeding the monkeys. These monkeys will be more friendly if you give them foods. Apart from that, Sangeh is a “must visit” tourism object that you need check in Bali.