The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, also known as Paro Takstang, is one of Bhutan’s most recognized spots in Bhutan and for a good reason. This amazing monastery preaching precariously on the edge of a cliff is a jewel in itself.

Photo: Enroute the hike up to the monastery / CCo

Behold The Tigers Nest Monastery

This monastery is located in Paro, the place with the only international airport in Bhutan. You can take a taxi from the main city of Paro to the base of the monstery which will take around 30 minutes. From there you will have to trek up the hill to reach the monastery.

The monastery is one of the most venerated places of pilgrimage in the Himalayan. This monastery consists of four temples with residential accommodations for the monks. Despite the daily visits by tourists, Paro Takstang still functions as a monastery today

The Monastery hanging on its cliff 

The Legend

The legend of Taktshang (Tiger’s lair) evolved from 747 AD when Guru Padmasambhava chose a cave on a sheer rock face to meditate and, assuming a wrathful form, Guru Dorji Drolo, astride a tigress, subdued the evil spirits n the locality. Taktshang thus became one of the most important Buddhist monuments in the Himalayan Buddhist world.

Legend has it the tigress actually was Yeshi Tshogyal, a consort of Guru Rinpoche, who has transformed herself into the fearsome animal to subjugate spirits

Taktshang clings to the rock towering 800 meters (over 2,600 feet) above the valley and is located 2,950 meters (9,678 feet) above the sea level. It takes about 2 hours walk to reach the monastery from the road at Ramthangkha, 12 kilometers from Paro town.

Photo: Some chillies at the entrance of the monastery / CCo

The Hike

The climb to the monastery takes about 3 hours on a comfortable pace. Frequent trekker and gym enthusiast can complete it in about 2 hours. The total distance walked is about 4 km one way with 700m in elevation gained.

On average, it takes between four and five hours to do the round trip hike, plus one more hour to tour the monastery. Many people also have lunch in the cafeteria not far from the monastery. You can plan on leaving Paro around 8 am and arriving back at your hotel around 3 pm.

The hike starts at the bottom of the mountain, right at the car park. There will be people selling souvenirs and hiking poles and this is a place to hire a horse if you want one.

Then as you move ahead from the market kind of area you will reach a clearing where you can see a glimpse of the monastery way ahead on a cliff. Don’t get disheartened as in a few hours you will be looking down from there instead.

Photo: The Monastery as seen from the base / The Art of Travel Partners

Once at the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, your guide will take you on a tour of the temples. Backpacks, photography equipment, and shoes are not allowed inside the monastery. These will need to be left with security staff located just outside of the monastery walls.

After your tour of the Tiger’s Nest, you will hike back the way you came. Make sure you get all the photos you want, you will want to look back on this religious adventure of yours for later.

The Monastery

The monastery buildings consist of four main temples and residential shelters ideally designed by adapting to the rock (granite) ledges, the caves, and the rocky terrain. Out of the eight caves, four are comparatively easy to access.

The cave where Padmasambhava first entered, riding the Tiger, is known as ‘Tholu Phuk’ and the original cave where he resided and did meditation is known as the ‘Pel Phuk’. He directed the spiritually enlightened monks to build the monastery here.

All the buildings are interconnected through steps and stairways made in rocks. There are a few rickety wooden bridges along the paths and stairways also to cross over. The temple at the highest level has a frieze of Buddha. Each building has a balcony, which provides lovely views of the scenic Paro valley down below. The Monasteries have ancient history of occupation by monks, as hermitages

Photo: The four  differenet temples at the Monastery / CCo

Best time to visit

October to December is the best time to visit Bhutan when the weather is clear and cool. The weather remains clear through the winter, although it can get quite cold during this time. The spring season can also be a nice time to visit Bhutan.

Photo: You will see different types of vegetation on the way to the peak / The Art of Travel Partners

How fit should you be

Anyone of average fitness can complete this hike. Many kids and elder people visit it. Take your time, it is not a race. You may want to bring hiking poles to help out your knees on the descent. If not you can always hire a mule/ horse to make it to the top. But it is the hike which adds to the beauty of this place so try not to skip it.

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February 17, 2019 12:19 am Published by

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