Monkeys, who according to Hindu tradition are descendants of the god Hanuman, continued living a life fit for kings on Saturday in the Thai city of Lopburi, where local authorities feed them twice a day and let them roam freely around its streets and temples.
An estimated 3,000 macaques - Macaca fascicularis - live in the city, located 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of Bangkok, although their biggest colonies are found in the Khmer-style Prang Sam Yot temple and the Phra Kan shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
"We have lived together for a long time. I have spent 40 years here, and there have always been monkeys. However, their number has grown in recent years. When I arrived, there were less of them," Taveesak Srisangnan, a 74-year resident, told EFE.
The reason why the primates are tolerated and even cared relates to a legend which says they are descendants of Hanuman, who helped Prince Rama - an incarnation of Vishnu - kill a giant called Thotsakan, according to the epic poem Ramakien, the Thai version of India's Hindu epic Ramayana.
Groups of monkeys climb trees, lamp-posts and the facades of buildings, which have grilled windows to prevent unsolicited visits by the hairy creatures.
In Prang Sam Yot, built in the 13th century, macaques bathe in small tanks, relax around three enormous towers or chase tourists in search of food or attractive objects.
While devotees light up lamps and incense in front of a golden statue of Vishnu in the nearby Phra Kan shrine, monkeys swing from the branches of an enormous fig tree, considered sacred, or feast on bananas, melons, and other fruits.
Curiously, the simians climb around the outside of the temples but never enter them.
Almost all shops keep sticks in case the monkeys get out of control, but generally, it's a peaceful co-existence between humans and monkeys and sometimes macaques are even fed by residents.
"Now I know all aspects of their behavior. The most important is to take care of our belongings," adds Taveesak, who runs a small food shop outside a shrine.
The senior citizen says he does not hate the monkeys, although they sometimes bite car tires and leave a bad smell by urinating and defecating, which drives citizens to complain to the authorities.
Lopburi's name is also inspired by a character in the Ramakien, a reflection