September 30th, 2009 – by: aquaholicme2
Today had planned to visit the Taktshang monastery also called as Tigers Nest monastery which is perched on a sheer cliff some 900 meters above the bottom of Paro
valley ground. It is the holiest monastery of Bhutan, Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress in the 8th century and meditated for some months in the cave. Building monastery's, Dzongs in imaginatively inaccessible locations seems Was in favor in Bhutan. The more remote the place is, the more backbreaking difficult the approach is, the better is the location for Dzongs. During my last visit I could not visit this place due to shortage of time, was only able to see it from a far distance. But this time i was determined to climb all the way up.
I booked a taxi from Thimpu
early in the morning to reach Paro and then to the foot of the hill to climb up to reach Taktshang monastery and back to Thimpu, costing me rupees 1500. But a more economical way is to take a shared taxi from Thimpu to Paro bus stand (around rupees 150 and takes some 2 hrs), then another one to monastery parking lot (around 10 kms from Paro town) with waiting charges of 4-5 hrs and back to Paro for around Rupees 500-600, and then another shared taxi back to Thimpu for Rupees 150.
On the way bought a few apples for snacks and reached the parking lot near the hill around 8:30am. The walk up the hill from the parking lot is through pine trees, birds chirping, with the monastery slipping in and out of view.
It takes around 2 hours to reach which seems like eternity. There is a cafeteria half way which is cue to the chicken-hearted to turn back. From this point you get a beautiful view of the Tigers nest. Plodded on along with aged tourists, little novices, entire families, some on ponies. I was the only one traveling alone, everyone else was on package tours. After the last stretch of climb from the cafeteria started descending down a shifty stone staircase, passed beside a waterfall and the after a final dash up, reached the monastery. The view from the staircase onwards is rewarding and you can see the monastery from various angles.
You have to register at the entrance, leave your bags and shoes there before entering the monastery. Went around the various prayer rooms, offered my prayers and sat there from some time.
The place is peaceful and you realize how calm and quite your mind becomes at this place which gets really cold. The walk down the hill is fairly easy and the whole trek up and down can be done in 5 hours. After reaching down, my taxi guy was waiting, had some rest before starting back to Thimpu. We picked up some more passengers going towards Thimpu, the taxi fellow made a few more bucks. When I reached the hotel, was dead tired, legs shaking and the mind still wandering, flashing images of the Tigers nest. The hotel guys were surprised that I was able to complete the tour/trek from Thimpu to the monastery and back in half a day. Tasted some local food and crashed in my room. The climate in Thimpu changed every few hours. In the morning its very cold, starts getting warmer during the day, a bit hot around noon, and then rains in the evening before getting cold again at night.
When i woke up later in the evening, it was wet everywhere after the rains and was getting chilly. So decided to try the local dish Ema Dashi, made of chillies.
Thought will did generate some heat, but my lips were burning for the next 2 days, it was way too spicy even to my Indian tongue.
Later on visited a local fair at a small ground in front of my hotel. This is the center place of Thimpu and there were a couple of souvenir shops, food stalls. A few volunteers were collecting donations for helping the people in Eastern Bhutan who were effected by the recent earthquake on 21st Sept09. The earthquake was of 6.1 magnitude that had occurred at 14:53 local time a week earlier to my visit.