Alas Kedaton or “Holy Forest: is a small forrest measuring 12,00ha where you can see hundreds of monkeys in their natural habitat.
It’s one of the place in Bali where monkeys exist, free and peaceful. There are hundred of monkeys in this forest and high up on the big trees many bats area hanging and singing with their loud voices. Located in Sangeh Village, the six-hectare forest is populated with giant nutmeg trees of up to 40m in height. Hordes of Balinese monkeys that inhabit both the trees and the temple, Pura Bukit Sari, located in the heart of the forest, will greet you as you enter the forest, some of them even daring to get close to you. The monkeys have become well acquainted with human company, but beware – sometimes in their attempts to get food, they will snatch some object in order to trade for food. Be aware that the monkeys are easily attracted by shiny objects, such as cameras, jewelry, wristwatches or glasses – best to leave these things behind or keep them hidden.
Alas Kedaton Location
Alas Kedaton, known as Kedaton Monkey Forest, since within the small spot of forest of high trees live dozens of wild monkeys and fruit bats, enclosing a temple characterized with old tradition of monolith which is supposed to originated from megalithic period. The location of this forest is just 2 km from a settlement or village which is belong to the area of Kecamatan Kediri Tabanan, or located around 5 km from the town of Kediri. From Denpasar this place is around 17 km, and from Kuta is shorter, around 14 km. The environment of this forest with temple is a rice field and a small river on the east border. Along the way from Denpasar or Kuta one will pass the villages and towns which is densely populated as the area relatively closed to the biggest city of Bali, Denpasar and very close distance to the capital city of Kabupaten Tabanan that is Tabanan city. Between Denpasar and Tabanan one passes cities such as Kapal, Mengwi, and Kediri which is now has no clear border between them along 21 km length.
The reason of preserving the forest in the populated area of Bali is the existence of a temple. A temple must have an area that is to be preserved either in the condition of natural or a rice field or dry field considered as the wealth of the temple itself. A tradition of Balinese that to preserve a forest or nature, a temple is built, so the relation between temple and nature is two aspects that must be co-existence. It is not only for nature but for any natural heritages such as animal. For example see Goa Lawah, to preserve the existence and life of the bats, a temple is constructed on the mouth of the cave where the bats live, monkeys habitat can be found many in Bali other then Alas Kedaton, such as Sangeh, Uluwatu, Grokgak, Ubud, and others. At each of this animal habitat a temple were established, so people will not trouble the life of the animal.
At every places that have dense forest a temple also constructed to warn people not to trouble the forest. Only later after the independence of Indonesia with the formation of forest rangers some permits to cut the trees in the forest has been issued. This permits have caused most of the trees were cut including clearing for a new field of farming. To strengthen the traditional technique of Alas Kedaton preservation by Balinese, even a myth of frightening has been also created. For a myth of monkey’s culture has been developed, and to protect the National Bali Barat Nature Reserve a myth of invisible town also has been created, and still many myths to protect places in Bali which is in the main idea to deter the people to trouble the preserved object. For Alas Kedaton with its wild monkeys it is a story of the smart monkey life, like a human being the monkeys will burry their died member. That is the reason that from hundreds of years the farmers around the forest never find any dead monkey.
A spot of land south of the forest which is look like a cemetery with dozen of small domes is considered the cemetery of the monkeys. This group of monkeys are more diligent compared to other monkeys as it is belong to the holy spirit that abide the temple, and any one who gives trouble to the monkey will be encountered with problem. This is the believe of the people living around Alas Kedaton. This story was created to preserve the forest and its wild monkeys and fruit bats. The way Balinese preserve the nature sounds superstitious, yet so success so far. The only government side did not understand how to adjust this good traditional technique to shift it into scientific way of preservation, as it is realized that superstitious way will sooner or later will be re-considered by the people themselves in the pace of their knowledge.
A partial solution to the effort was done by Department of Archaeology of University of Udayana in 1982, only just to discover the truth of the myth by organizing an excavation to the spot supposed as the monkeys cemetery, but without the adjustment of the preservation ideas laid out behind it. It was lucky that Alas Kedaton has developed into tourist object and by this, the people were given advantages, if not the lost of believe on the story of the monkeys ability to burry their died member will fade the believe of the people to the holy spirit that abide the temple and at last will harm the spirit of preservation. The number of monkeys live until today is believed more then a hundred which are become so tame due to the tourists always giving them souvenir for feeding such as peanuts, banana, and any kind of fruits. On the high tree also dozens of fruit bats which is called flying foxen can also be seen during the day.
At the front of the temple where buses and cars of visitors first arrive now have been built many shops, especially souvenir shops from handicrafts, garments, accessories, and any other goods. The shops are expected to interest the visitors to buy small souvenirs at their shops. This is indeed giving bad impression to the guests, just like Tampak Siring Temple that the guests are forced to walk among the shops to see the object. Such errors almost happened also with Besakih temple, but with the new Bupati, the head of the region it can be re-located. A visitor to Alas Kedaton arrive at the parking area then walk around the temple or can also walk further through the shadow of big trees. Yet the monkeys already presence at the parking area waiting for gifts.