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Entries in what to see in Bali (1)

Monday
Aug132012

Bali’s Dragon Bridge of The Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

One of my favorite places to visit in Bali and one of my wife’s least favorite places is Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana. More commonly known as The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. She has a slightly irrational fear of the mischievous simians but for most travelers and locals, a visit to The Sacred Monkey Forest is a fun one. Mind your shiny valuables and don't try to hide food in your pockets, but if you are aware of the potential pitfalls, the forest has much to offer.

best bali tour monkeyA mother monkey enjoys a tasty yam as her infant clutches her breast as another monkey flies by crossing The Dragon Bridge in Bali's Sacred Monkey Forest
Much has been written about the three troupes of playful long tailed macaques that call the forest home. Depending on whom you ask, there are somewhere between 200 and 600 of our primate cousins living amongst the 115 different speicies of trees in the dense forest. Instead here I would like to focus on one of my favorite places within the Monkey Forest.

There are many remarkable aspects of the Monkey Forest. There are three major temples, the oldest dating back to the 14th century, neatly one hundred fantastical sculptures, impressive huge trees and plants (complete with Tree Spirits), and there are even not one, but two monkey cemeteries. But my favorite is something different.
Bali tours monkey forestA huge Banyon Tree attempts to engulf The Dragon Bridge that crosses the gorge in Bali's Monkey Forest Sactuary
The elaborately carved Dragon Bridge crosses a narrow gorge in the middle of the forest. Its hard to date the bridge acurately. I have been told its more than 700 years old, but many stories and legends surround the mystical bridge. The bridge itself cuts directly through the truck of an enormous Banyon Tree and leads to The Holy Bathing Temple. 

Repairs have been made as when I visited a few years ago one of the dragon’s snouts had been broken off (most likely by a disrespectful tourist rather than a monkey). It has since been repaired and looks none the worse for wear. I suppose it helps that in a tropical setting like Ubud, moss will cover shaded stone in just a matter of months making it look like it has been there since the Majapahit Empire.
Bali travel sacred forestThe view from The Holy Bathing Temple across the Dragon Bridge and through the Banyon Tree in Ubud's Monkey Forest
I won't reveal the secrets of the forest and the current day stone carvers here, but I will say their talent is immense and the traditions remain strong. Come visit us for a special insider’s tour of The Sacred Monkey Forest and we will show you even more that most travelers miss. Pardon me, I said “we”, but I'm sure my wife will not join us for this part of the tour.

 

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