Tiger's Nest Monastery
Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Paro Valley, Bhutan
December 13, 2023
HISTORY of the Tiger’s Nest Monastery
The cultural icon of Bhutan, Paro Taktsang, also known as the Taktsang Palphug Monastery and the Tiger's Nest, is a sacred Vajrayana Himalayan Buddhist site located on the cliffside of the upper Paro valley in Bhutan. It is one of thirteen Tiger's Nest caves in historical Tibet in which Padmasambhava practiced and taught Vajrayana.
First established in the 9th Century as a meditation cave, a later monastery complex was built in 1692 where Guru Padmasambhava meditated and practiced with students including Yeshe Tsogyal before departing the kingdom of Tibet in the early 9th century.
Padmasambhava is credited with introducing Vajrayana Buddhism to Bhutan, which was then part of Tibet, and is the tutelary deity of the country. Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen taktsang or "tiger lair" caves in which he and his students meditated.
Tsechu, a popular festival in honor of Padmasambhava, is celebrated in the Paro valley sometime during March or April every year.
The architecture of Tiger’s Nest Monastery is Bhutanese style.
Tiger’s Nest Monastery has become the cultural icon of Bhutan.
Kingya and Jimmy, my guide and driver and I cross the river and begin our motorized climb to the to the park entrance of the monastery. Tiger’s Nest Monastery clings to the cliffside, high, oh so high above.
Locally carved wooden hiking sticks are for rent, but I always carry my own lightweight, adjustable, and collapsible aluminum Pocketrek-Master.
Horses and donkeys are also available, but they only climb for the first hour. Per pedes is the only means of transport for the second steep hour to the monastery “that clings to the cliffside high, oh so high above.”
I do manage a short walk up a hill to the trailhead. Several smiling, ambitious and confident mountaineers walk past, some with double hiking sticks and backpacks filled with appropriate supplies.
An Indian tourist, a man much younger than me, but apparently not that young, approaches, huffing and puffing after his brief excursion. For him and his friends I thought, “No way!”
My dear friends, even with my modern hiking stick, my ancient legs cry out “No way!”
I remain at my spot with Kingya. I do my best to shoot the Monastery high above. I love the majestic trees – so tall and straight and green in the wintry weather.
I chat up another group of “no way” tourists. I decide we shall be selected as the honorary members of the Ad Hoc Non-Climbing Mountain Climbing Club of Bhutan.
We have our laughs.
A beautiful moment of yet another delightful travel day.