Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is like going home; that wilderness is a necessity. Just take a peek out of your window to watch the bright shining sun through the glass or the rain pouring down. Get up my friend and leave this cubicle world for few days. Explore the beautiful gifts of nature before it’s too late. Explore ~ Dream ~ Discover. Tiger’s Nest trek or Paro Taktsang trek was the main reason for me to visit Bhutan-The Kingdom of Thunder Dragon.
I had always seen Tiger’s Nest in some random photos and was skeptical of its existence. It is just over 10 Km North of Paro central town. As I came near the foothills of this amazing structure, a long-term dream to hike it just got fulfilled and another started – Discover Tiger’s Nest!!!! A Dream within a Dream- just kidding!!!
Tiger’s Nest Trek Start
Dense forest cover at Tiger’s Nest Trek
Precariously perched on the edge of a 1,200-meter cliff and resting at an elevation of about 10,240 meters above sea level, just a glimpse of Tiger’s Nest from the foothills is enough to inspire you to hike all the way to the very top.
Paro Taktsang as seen from foothill
What’s the History??
According to the legend related to this Taktsang, Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. He flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress from Khenpajong. This place was just a cave in the 8th century. He meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours and the place became holy. The monastery was built in 1692 around the cave where Guru meditated.
On April 19, 1998, a fire broke out in the main building of the monastery. The entire Tiger’s Nest complex was in ashes, except for one thing: the giant statue of Padmasambhava. The restoration works were undertaken at an estimated cost of 135 million ngultrums.
The destruction due to fire had almost no impact on the popularity of this amazing structure and it remains one among the top go-to destinations.
Now let’s leave the history behind and hike all the way to Tiger’s Nest!!! But how do you make it to the top?
If you are good at your fitness, you can hike all the way to the top in around 1.5 to 2 hours. But those looking for an easier option can book a horse ride till an allowed point and then hike from there. But taking a horse is not a safer option as there have been few incidents in the past.
Tiger’s Nest trek starts
The trail winds its way through a forest of deciduous trees and giant rhododendrons draped with lichens. About halfway through the hike, you are welcome with giant prayer wheels and colorful prayer flags.
Prayer Wheels as seen on Tiger’s Nest Trek
The view of Tiger’s Nest from here is just spectacular. You can enjoy tea time at tea house which is just a minute walk down from here. Many people end up their hike at this point.
Breathtaking view of Tiger’s Nest
From here the trail is a series of steep stairs (400 around) downwards, which leads you to a wooden bridge beside an icy waterfall. And the last trail of 100 ascending steps helps you to finish what would have been one of the most amazing hikes you have ever experienced. Considering my high fitness, it took me just about an hour to reach the top. Ha-ha!!So proud of myself!!!!
Amazing landscape as seen on Tiger’s Nest trek
As there are several temples within the Tiger’s Nest, photography is strictly prohibited. You have to submit all your stuff outside. Paro Taktsang Monastery consists of the 4 main temples and several caves. The atmosphere throughout the monastery was mystical.
A moment to remember at Tiger’s Nest trek
Some Useful Tips
- Being a popular tourist destination, there can be a huge crowd. I advise you to reach as early as possible to have the view and the photo spots all to yourself.
- The monastery closes for lunch between 12:00 and 1:00 pm.
- Bring your water as there is not many sources, just a café in the midway.
- Weather can play a part to ruin your trek, so at least have a spare day in your itinerary.
- Don’t rush so much to reach the top. Rather enjoy each and every moment of this beautiful trek.
- Preferably wear hiking shoes.
Visiting Tiger’s Nest was an unforgettable experience. It will always remain one of my favorite destinations from traveling for life. Still, wonder that why it’s not in the wonders of the world.
If you want to read more on Bhutan check out my blog Bhutan – Kingdom of Thunder Dragon.
Are you looking for some essential travel gear? Check out my blog post on What’s in my Backpack.
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