Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest)
Paro Travel Blog› entry 4 of 13 › view all entries
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.
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.