The Tiger’s Nest is another name of Paro Taktsang or Taktsang Palphug Monastery. It is a sacred temple of the Buddhists that was built in 1692 in Bhutan, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup Cave. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava had meditated in these caves for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century. Today, Paro Taktsang is famous for the 13 ‘tiger lair’ caves in which he had meditated.
A temple which is devoted to Padmasambhava (also known as the Temple of the Guru with Eight Names) is a classic structure built around the cave by Tenzin Rabgye in 1692. Therefore, it is Bhutan’s cultural icon.
According to legends, Guru Padmasambhava came here from Tibet, on a tigress’ back from Khenpajong.
There is also an alternative story by another legend that stated that the former wife of the emperor Yesh Tsogyal willingly became the disciple of Guru Padmasambhava. She transformed into a tigress and carried him on her back. Consequently, the place came to be known as the ‘Tigers Nest’.
It is also believed that Tenzin Rabgye, the builder of the monastery in 1692, was the reincarnation of the Guru Padmasambhava.
How to reach the Tiger Nest Monastery?
The Monastery is 10 km to the north of Paro in Bhutan, at an elevation of about 10,000 ft. You can reach the Tiger’s Nest by walking or on horseback. It is a quite challenging trek, you gain merit with every step but the view of the Paro Valley from the monastery is worth the endeavor. The trek starts from the valley floor which is at about 7000 ft and it takes about 2-3 hours (on an average) to complete the hike. It starts with slow climbs into serene pine forests where you will find water- powered pray wheels and flags. It is said these are for trekkers to be bestowed upon with power and stamina to complete the forthcoming journey. From here onwards, the climb becomes steep, arduous and steady up to a ridge. Horse- ride is only allowed till the second viewpoint due to some accidents that took place in the past.Once you reach the monastery you will find the atmosphere to have become mystical; you will find a deep sense of calmness and peace. Also, you should seek blessings from the monks. It is the true feeling of being a pilgrim!
- Wear hiking shoes and it is better to wear thick socks as you have to remove your shoes at the entry.
- Bring your hiking poles. If you forget, you can buy a wooden walking stick at the parking lot.
- Bring your rain gear as the weather is unpredictable.
- The hike should be done at the end of your trip to give you more time to acclimatize to the altitude.
- Walk at a steady pace and avoid walking fast and resting too much.
- It is recommended to start the hike early in the morning.
So get set and go to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan if you want to have an adventurous cum religious trip!