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Rawana, the villainous giant of the Ramayana epic, could die neither on earth nor in air. To kill him, themonkey general Hanuman devised a plan to suffocate the giant by pressing him between two halves of the holy mountain Mahameru-a destruction between the earth and air. When Hanuman took Mahameru, part of the mountain fell to the earth in Sangeh, along with a group of his monkey armies. And so they stayed to this very day.

Such is the legendary origin of Bukit Sari, or The Monkey Forest, a cluster of towering trees and home of hundreds of sprite monkeys. The forest is sacred and for many years no one has been permitted to chop wood there. A moss-covered temple lies in the heart of the woods and is a familiar hideout for the nimble inhabitants. You make many friends by buying a bag of peanuts, and for such a feast the monkeys often bring their families along.

Rumor tells of a king of the monkeys who invariably has the first choice in selecting peanut handouts. He oversees one camp, while a rival king and his followers control another area of the forest. A beautiful restive place, Sangeh has long been an inspiration for painters and monkey-watchers.

The temple, Pura Bukit Sari, was originally built around the 17th century as an agricultural temple and has been restored several times, most recently in 1973. In the central courtyard, a large statue of Garuda, an old carving of uncertain date, symbolizes freedom from suffering and the attainment of amerta, the elixir of life. The forest of nutmeg trees in which it lies was presumably planted deliberately a long time ago, for it is unique in Bali.

There is a separate route linking Sangeh directly with Denpasar that begins at Jalan Kartini, making it a short trip. A side - road joins Blahkiuh, just south of Sangeh, with Mengwi which can also be reached by returning to Denpasar and taking the trip to the west. A sub-standard road links Sangeh with Ubud.


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