I’m an Indian tourist. Monkeys aren’t new to me. We see them along railway lines, on walls, trying to get into houses … I’ve written about Matheran too, where a monkey came into the room, picked up a packet of milk powder, and then calmly looked around, trying to figure out what else to take.
So, no, monkeys are not an exotic species that I would go and see. I am not tempted by the prospect of feeding monkeys sweet potatoes or corn or bananas. I don’t want a video of a monkey climbing all over me. In fact, I don’t want a monkey climbing all over me. Period.
For some of us in the group, the signboard at the entrance itself was a deterrent. I’m not quoting, but here’s the gist of it.
If a monkey jumps on you, do not panic.
Do not carry a paper bag or plastic bag into the forest.
If a monkey grabs your bag, let go.
Don’t make eye-contact with the monkeys.
The list went on.
Sorry, no. The monkeys weren’t tempting.
Yet, the trees reached out to me. I’ve always been convinced, almost pantheistically, that something connects my spirit to that of splendid trees that tower over me. Monkeys were not be the selling point for me, but the trees … They took my breath away.
Imagine a table for four and put four chairs around it. That was the size of the trunks of some of those trees. And standing at the foot, looking up at the leaves, you couldn’t see the top.
The second beautiful thing about Monkey Forest was the sculpture – beautifully intricate with a touch of humour in the most unexpected places. Bridge railings were carved like serpent skin. Monkeys attempted to peek into the mouths of dragons. Stone monkeys sat one on top of the other – topped with a real monkey. It was such a delight!
And there’s a bonus! The ticket includes a free area shuttle, and you can hop on and hop off as many times as you like! I’ll write about that soon!