Tiger's Nest Monastery Paro
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Bhutan Diaries : Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Paro

Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
That little speck is the Tiger’s Nest Monastery
See that little white spot up there? That’s Taktsang, or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro, the most sacred site in all of Bhutan. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, the Indian saint who spread Buddhism across Bhutan, flew to the top of this cliff on the back of his consort, who took the form of a tigress. A monastery was built at the site in the 17th century. It hangs off the rockface dangerously at more than 3100m above sea level, and I demand to know why it’s not a wonder of the world!
Trekking up to the monastery is one of the holiest pilgrimages that a Buddhist can undertake. Even if you’re not spiritually inclined, it’s an experience of a lifetime.
 
The trek will take a good part of a day, and I’d be lying if I said it’s easy. But seriously, if I (lazy, unfit, somewhat asthmatic) can do it, literally anybody can. The first and last half hours are the hardest – the first is just starting trouble, and the last involves about 700 very steep steps. The rest of the time, you kind of settle into a comfortable pace. Ponies are available to take you up about one third of the way, but better avoided because they are not completely safe. Hiking poles are useful, and you can rent one at the base. We did the trek on the last day of our stay in Bhutan, so we were well acclimatized to the altitudes.
Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
One of the easier stretches of the climb

About 1-1.5 hours into the climb, the cafeteria appears in the distance like an oasis! It’s the only place in the trail where you can stop for refreshments or even a meal:

Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
That cluster of shacks is the cafeteria
Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
This lucky cat lives in the cafeteria

As you trudge on, you are treated to breathtaking views all around, and you can see the monastery slowly getting closer.Sometimes, you can see it clearly, past the greenery:

Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
Past the greenery

Sometimes  you see it through the prayer flags:

Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
Through the prayer flags

If it’s spring, you can see it past the rhododendrons:

Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
Beyond the rhododendrons
Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
Rhododendrons in full bloom

Through the gaps in pine trees

Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
Through the gaps in pine trees

Sometimes, very faintly, through the clouds

Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
Through the clouds

At times, it seems close enough to touch

Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
Almost there!
 And then, finally, you make it! Photography isn’t allowed inside the monastery, so I cannot show you what it’s like inside, but it’s incredibly spiritual and serene. It’s the site Guru Rinpoche chose, to meditate for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours, and you’re right there! Just the thought is amazing 🙂 After making a wish at his altar, we began the long descent, which is harder than you’d think. Some parts can get very slippery, and keeping your balance can hurt your toes quite a bit. It was bittersweet – an absolutely beautiful trip was ending, but in the best possible way  🙂
Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
Holy water cascading down just before you reach the monastery
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2 Comments

  • Reply Aditto April 20, 2016 at 1:35 PM

    Amazing! And great pics!

  • Reply vijay rohit September 14, 2015 at 12:40 PM

    Simply Superb..Wonderful Photos & Excellent writing.. Congrats…

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