Taktshang Goemba which is popularly known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is the most impressive building in the world for me. It is also high on many people’s bucket list and often the reason why travellers visit Bhutan.
The Tiger`s Nest Monastery is said to be the spot where Guru Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche) landed – when he flew from Tibet on the back of his Tigress. That´s why the name!
There was only a cave at the place he landed, the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave – where Guru Rinpoche stayed and meditated for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours in order to overpower the evil demons living inside the cave.
The first Monastery was built around 1692 around the cave but was unfortunately burned down on 19th April 1998 from, what is believed to be, an electrical short-circuiting or flickering butter lamp.
It has been completely rebuilt to its current look after the devastating fire.
The Tiger`s Nest Monastery is built on the edge of a high cliff 3120m/10,240ft above sea level and 900m/3000ft above the valley’s floor. The Monastery is located only about 10km/6.2miles north of the city Paro.
And despite its location high up in the mountainside, it is easily viewable from the road.
But you need to get up close to see how magnificent this Monastery really is.
The Tiger`s Nest is the most visited sight in all of Bhutan, and with being popular means hoards of tourists. I and my guide left Paro at 6 AM in the morning to visit the Monastery before others arrived.
That proved to be the best decision I have ever made during my travels.
I was together with another traveller to be the first ones to reach the Monastery that day. When we left, there was a queue of a few hundred people waiting to enter.
And while going back down we did pass at least another hundred tourists.
So do yourself a favor and get out of bed early the day you are going to visit The Tiger`s Nest.
How to reach The Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
I visited The Tiger’s Nest Monastery in July, and unfortunately, the weather gods were not on my side this day…
Tourists will complain about the bad weather, a Traveler will find a reason to enjoy it.
Here are the photos from the amazing trip not as good as I would have preferred.
The only way to reach the Tiger Nest Monastery is by foot or on the back of a horse.
It´s only a short 25min car ride from Paro to reach the parking lot where you will start your hike up to The Tiger`s Nest Monastery.
From the parking lot is the trail which climbs into a pine forest where you will pass by several Chorten´s buildings with water-powered prayer wheels inside. These buildings are surrounded by prayer flags.
If it´s raining (like during my visit) the path will be extremely muddy and slippery in parts.
I will highly recommend you to use walking sticks during rains. You can also hire a horse to carry you up.
Most people take around 2 hours to reach The Tiger`s Nest but if you are a quick walker, the hike will take around 50min. The small cafeteria on your way marks the halfway point.
When I reached the cafeteria the weather was cloudy hence there was no way to spot The Tiger`s Nest.
I decided to continue the hike with the hope that the weather would clear up when I reached the monastery.
This is also the first viewpoint of The Tiger Nest Monastery.
Surprisingly, many tourists seemed happy about the view from the cafeteria and decided not to continue the hike all the way up to the Monastery.
The cafeteria serves hot drinks, soda, beer and some basic dishes. It´s a great place to warm up if you’re unlucky with the weather. There are few well maintained and clean western toilets at the cafeteria as well.
The path from the cafeteria is pretty steep and slippery; I almost slipped a few times. But when the weather cleared up, I enjoyed the stunning view of The Tiger’s Nest Monastery.