Thursday, March 08, 2012

Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery

One of the highlights when visiting Bhutan is a completing the hike up to Taktshang - the Tiger's Nest Monastery. Originally built in the 8th century, the present monastery was constructed in the 17th century but rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1998. This is the place where Guru Rimpoche, the 2nd Buddha, is said to have landed while riding a flying tiger in the 8th century. The monastery sits almost 2,000 feet above the valley floor and the hike up is by a steep trail about 2.5 miles long. The setting is spectacular and the day we had was unbelievably clear and bright!

Look at the day we woke up to in Paro! Not a cloud in the sky. At over 7,000 feet Paro has cold mornings and warm afternoons this time of year.

The peaks north of town look very interesting

Our hike begins about 9:30 AM

The monastery was visible from down below. Of the 47 people on our trip, 37 attempted the climb up and just about everyone made it to the monastery with a few feeling satisfied to stop at a famous vista halfway up.

The trail was definitely steep, rutted and well-used. People still come here for pilgrimages.

But around every turn there were amazing views of the Paro Valley...

... or the monastery as we got closer

It is a fabulous structure but it is the location perhaps that makes it so interesting

You can see the monastery from this halfway point (upper left corner), where a small cafeteria has been built. Notice the rock face that the monastery is built into!

Monks dressed in red can be seen out on one of the balconies at Tiger's Nest monastery

After the trail achieves the elevation of the monastery, it drops down 200 feet into a cliff-lined ravine. There you have to cross a small bridge and climb back up to the monastery.

The setting is spectacular, the day was fantastic and just our luck - March 8 is the full moon so there were special chants being made inside

Some of the last stairs to climb

On the way down I was enthralled with the lichens and other epiphytes that were growing on the oak trees in the forest

Tiger's Nest through the oak trees

Stupa's in Paro town. Time to go to India but I'll write more later.

2 comments:

Gaelyn said...

Hard to believe a structure would have been built on that rock face over 100 years ago. But the Puebloans did it. That trail looks like climbing out of the canyon in some places. What a view!

Dr. Jack Share said...

Tremendous!!!! Great photos!