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Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest)

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Taktsang Monastery (Tiger Nest)

Taktsang Monastery (also called Tiger’s Nest) is the most famous and picturesque monastery in Bhutan. Perched precariously to a sheer granite cliff 1000m above the Paro valley, this dramatic and artistically structured monastery creates an impressive sight and is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan.

I was captivated right away when I first saw pictures of this magnificent Buddhist relic hanging from the cliff and knew it was a definite inclusion in the trip itinerary.

The name Taktsang means “Tiger’s nest”. It was established as a sacred place for meditation by Guru Rinpoche who, according to the legend, flew over the Himalaya from Tibet in the 8th century on the back of a tigress and visited the site on his second visit to Bhutan.

Taktsang Monastery seen from start of trek - tiny speck on the mountain
He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. The cave is said to be the origin of Buddhism in Bhutan. The first monastery was built in 1694 but a tragic fire destroyed most of the original building in 1998, although the holy cave has been found intact after the disaster. It has since been painstakingly restored to its former glory.

From the parking lot and the base of the hill, the monastery looked rather near but the ascent took us three hours. It was a continuous uphill hike. There were a few viewpoints along the way where one could get a better view of the monastery. Every viewpoint was like a motivation to complete the hike to reach the monastery. At about halfway up the hill, there was a cafe located on the ridge across from the Taktsang which provided a welcomed opportunity to take a rest and to buy some snacks.

From the second viewpoint, one could get a great view of Taktsang and it looked already pretty near. But it was actually still some distance away. The last part of the trail was a descent of about a 100m on one side of the cliff and then ascending up to the monastery on another side of the cliff.

What one saw at the entrance of the monastery was not what one would normally expect to see! A few Bhutanese army soldiers stood guard at the entrance to register the visitors and to ensure that no bag or camera was brought into the sacred monastery.

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Taktsang Monastery (Tiger Nest)
Taktsang Monastery (Tiger Nest)
Taktsang Monastery seen from start…
Taktsang Monastery seen from star…
Pointing up to Tiger Nest at start…
Pointing up to Tiger Nest at star…
Three chortens on the trail(stone …
Three chortens on the trail(stone…
Dog resting inside the Chorten
Dog resting inside the Chorten
One of the prayer wheel along the …
One of the prayer wheel along the…
Stopping at the first view point o…
Stopping at the first view point …
Tiger Nest from the first view poi…
Tiger Nest from the first view po…
Taktsang Monastery as seen from Ta…
Taktsang Monastery as seen from T…
Prayer flags and stones
Prayer flags and stones
Stopping at the second view point …
Stopping at the second view point…
Taktsang Monastery from 2nd viewpo…
Taktsang Monastery from 2nd viewp…
Tiger Nest from 2nd viewpoint
Tiger Nest from 2nd viewpoint
Along the way
Along the way
Tiger Nest from 2nd viewpoint
Tiger Nest from 2nd viewpoint
Prayer flags along the trail
Prayer flags along the trail
Sheer Cliff
Sheer Cliff
Final part of the trek - steep cli…
Final part of the trek - steep cl…
Taktsang Monastery (Tiger Nest)
Taktsang Monastery (Tiger Nest)
Buying Kitkat at a local store on …
Buying Kitkat at a local store on…
Back at the lodge having tea and l…
Back at the lodge having tea and …
Paro
photo by: Kanya