Visiting The Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan
You can’t dismiss Paro Taktsang, well known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, when you are visiting Bhutan. It is one of the most sacred religious sites in Bhutan. Guru Padmasambhava, popularly known as Guru Rinpoche visited and sanctified Bhutan in the 8th century when evil spirits abounded and harmed people. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this site on a tigress’ back to subdue a local demon (one of his eight manifestations). Thereafter, it is known that he have meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century. It hangs on a cliff and stands above a beautiful forest of blue pine and rhododendrons.
We drove to Paro from Thimphu to visit the monastery. It takes about 2.5 hours to hike up all the way, but you can rest at the wooden teahouse restaurant or cafeteria after the first hour. You can also hire a horse to hike up, but it’s not recommended. There have been several accidents from the horseback ride on the trail, I’ve heard. The monastery is across the rocky valley, and it is connected by approximately 700 stone steps from the highest point of the trail. It is the best place enjoy the stunning vista of the monastery and cliff. Because of its high elevation (about 3,100 meters high), the hike wasn’t too easy, but I felt great with all the fresh air from trees. Also, it offers the best view of the Paro Valley.
In 1998, a fire destroyed the main structure and all its contents. The fire is the biggest enemy of old wooden temples in Bhutan. Previously, it had suffered a fire in 1951. It was reconstructed in April 2000.
Here are a few things to remember before your visit:
✪ Tourists can enter the monastery as per these timings as long as your guide has arranged the standard permit in advance:
✪ 8 AM to 1 PM and 2-5 PM daily, October – March/ Until 6 PM, April – September.
✪ You have to register with the security at the entrance and deposit your bags and cameras.
✪ Photography is not allowed inside the monastery.