My Days in Bhutan: Hiking to the Magestic TIGER NEST


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February 1st 2013
Published: February 4th 2013
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Hiking to the cliff-hanging Tiger Nest was one of the items on my Bucket list: Now, scretched off. Yeahhh!

On May 2012 I made it to the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, where I spent the first few days exploring a little of its wonders and getting a taste of its culture, while getting used to the high altitude, before embarking on the hike.



Paro Taktsang is the popular name of Taktsang Palphug Monastery, also known as The Tiger's Nest, a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex, located on a cliffside of the upper Paro valley. A temple complex was built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours in the 8th century. Padmasambhava is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and is the main deity of the country.

The hanging monastery, with its daring location on a precipitous cliff at 3,120 meters (10,240 ft), and about 900 meters (3,000 ft) above the Paro valley, offers one of the most impressive views I have ever seen, a true reward at the end of a tough hike.

The rock slopes are very steep, almost vertical, and the monastery was impressively built into the rock face.


Background and legends of TIGER NEST


-According to the legend, Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress. This place was consecrated to tame the Tiger demon. Guru Rimpoche was the founder of the meditations cave.



-An alternative legend tells that a former wife of an emperor became a disciple of Guru Rinpoche in Tibet. She transformed herself into a tigress and carried the Guru on her back from Tibet to the present location of the monastery in Bhutan. In one of the caves, the Guru then performed meditation and emerged in eight incarnated forms (manifestations) and the place became holy. Subsequently, the location became known as the “Tiger's Nest”.


THE HIKE



At the beginning of the hike, the monastery was just a spec far away, encrusted on a mountain.

There were very few people around. Actually I only encountered 4 during the first 3rd of the way. Peace reined.

We weaved through the mule track, surrounded by pine forest. Half-way through, we stopped to catch our breath by a cheerful site with fluttering colorful prayer flags and a line of prayer wheels.

All of a sudden a group of Chinese show up, all riding on mules. The peaceful quiet atmosphere was broken, and it was time for me to move again. Unfortunately the mules caught up with me, and excuse meeeee, I had to move to the far edge of the cliff to let them pass. I don't think this group will be accumulating much good karma, making the poor animals work hard to care them up the hill, when they seemed perfectly capable of walking. Arrrrgh!!!!!

We were alone again, taking in the sounds of chanting that could now be heard, all the way from the Tiger Nest monastery. Enchanting!!!

The last hour of the hike was hard, but it was rewarding to feel the monastery getting closer and closer.

Amazing to see locals caring heavy bags of supplies on their backs, all the way up. I can only imagine what it was like to bring construction supplies to this far away site.

Once at the same level as the monastery, we find ourselves on the opposite mountain. Now we had
Way up thereWay up thereWay up there

We hike to the top of mountain on left, then little down and across to the mountain on right where TG is.
to go down, and the up again, through a set of stairs, to finally reach the impressive Tiger Nest.


AT TIGER NEST



Before entering the compound we had to take off our shoes and leave cameras.

Here, lots of people, most locals. An important Llama was visiting and giving blessings.

There were lots of people waiting at this particular chapel, where the Llama was. Chanting accompanied by the sounds of horns, trumpets, and other instruments. I entered the chapel and sat for a while, then walked to the Llama for blessing.

I visited the compounds, observing devotees meditating, praying and giving offerings. I emerged into the athomsphere of the place til time to head down came.



Can't say the walk back was easy. Tired and hungry, I just wanted to get down to eat, and dreamed of the hot stone bath I had booked for the night.



Unfortunately the weather wasn't that great. No blue sky and too much light for good photograph. But, in spite of that, the hike was stupendous, and I hope my pictures can give you a glimpse of this site of stupendous beauty.


Additional photos below
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4th February 2013

nice photos of bhutan
very nice photos updated of bhutan thanks! www.narbatreks.com
4th February 2013

You are living my dream!
Beautiful and well done on the climb up to the tigers nest...one day!
11th July 2013

Incredible
It was a pleasure going through your post and pictures. I hope that you visit Bhutan once more with the same enthusiasm

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