Step by Step – Bhutan Diaries – Day 6

October 15, 2019

Tiger’s Nest

Distance: 10km, Ascent 1,150m

Time: 4 hours – round trip

I didn’t realize how easy hiking over the past five days was until I looked up. Whoa! There it was, the most recognized monastery in South Asia, “Paro Taktsang” The Tiger’s Nest. Dating back to the 8th century, legend was that one of the Gurus who brought Buddishm to Bhutan was flown to the site on the back of a Tigress and blessed the site to tame the tiger. Well, that’s the story I like to believe. Nonetheless, it’s also a sacred site with a ton of meditative experiences and legendary tales.

What a marvel, all I could think of was how were we going to walk up there? The temple was sat on the crest of the mountain, there were two options to get there, hike or ride a mule.

We grabbed on to our hiking poles and walked towards the water powered prayer wheel at the beginning of the trail. It was strenuous from the start, we walked up super steep inclines, huffing and puffing in thin air. I admired the courage of those people who chose to ride up these risky slopes with rocks on the loose on the back of a mule. A few kilometers into the hike, the path looked flatter but restrictive until we reached a viewing point where we took a good look at the temple from a low angle. I watched the daredevils on the mules going up a different trail. We met again at the half way point, overrun with colorful prayer flags. Side note, the half way point was also the mule’s final destination.

The views were breath taking, we took our time and I took as many photos looking out at vistas of hills and rooftops. We stopped for drinks at the cafeteria at the half way where the trail leveled out and was jam-packed with people ambling in and out of the cafeteria, sitting and laying on massive rocks, chilling like we were going to spend the whole day here. After resting, we went back out, I looked up at the monastery only this time with a bout of vertigo.

The second half of the climb was wild. At times, I sat down to push my way down the steepest descents and then crawled back up. We bumped into several other tourists we saw a few days ago which felt like we were all on an organized mission.

We walked down stone steps, crossed the bridge covered in prayer flags, waterfall in the background, then up a steep flight of steps. We waited until we could stuff our bags and cameras into lockers. So, we hung out, breathed in the fresh air and I was just in awe and wrapped up in thoughts about the hermits, their dedication, the meditation, how the building was constructed and who carried all the stones! It didn’t matter how long we waited, it was all perfect! I was grateful it was a clear day.

We went on a guided tour inside the temple, with interesting tales about each room. The first room was narrow and overlooked Paro Valley, in fact all rooms overlooked the Paro Valley. There was a giant Buddha and gold dust on scriptures, colorful tapestries and holy paintings everywhere.

I was breathless at the the number of buildings connected to one another by steps or bridges. It didn’t look as spacious from the outside.

The way back was not as complicated, we stopped for an all-you-can-eat at the cafeteria, packed in like sardines.

Before we left to the hotel, we visited a farm house run by a local family to keep it real. We dabbled in archery, soaked our feet in a hot bath and indulged in a variety of local dishes.

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