Almost exactly one year ago today, I hiked up to one of the most amazing places in the world…the Tiger’s Nest. It is a monastery built into the sheer cliff face 3,000 feet above the Paro Valley in Bhutan. It’s real name is Paro Taktsang and it is sacred Bhuddist temple built in 1692. According to legend, Guru Padmasambhava flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress and is said to have meditated here in a cave for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century.
When you are on the valley floor, the temple seems unreachable…you see it only as a small spot on the cliff wall. Fortunately the climb is less intimidating than it appears. Ugay (my guide) and I started the hike early in the morning and were able to reach the top in just over 2 hours.
As one of the first people to reach the top this particular day, we experienced the temple in almost sheer solitude. Taking in the site from a nearby vantage point, I pondered how much labor it took to build it, the engineering behind it, and the peace and serenity I felt gazing upon it. I remember the stillness and the silence…it made a lasting impression on me.
The light for photographs was not the best, so we continued forward to enter the temple. Once inside, we made our way to the most sacred place…the cave entrance where Guru Padmasambhava landed and meditated. The resident monk sprinkled us with water and gave us a blessing. Later we wandered around the various rooms of the temple, investigated the many Buddhas located here, meditated and, lastly, spent time at an overlook taking in the view of the valley below.
Upon leaving the temple,I took several photographs from various vantage points. Somewhat reluctantly, I ventured off of the walking paths to take several images…beyond the wooden rails that provide some safety from falling off of the cliffs (unfortunately, people die here each year while making the trek to the top.) Ugay, perfectly surefooted, made sure I did not fall while I set up my tripod and took the image that you see here.
Bhutan, in general, is a magical country and visiting the Tiger’s Nest was the highlight of my time there. I did not want to leave, so Ugay and I sat here for some time taking in the view and listening to the colorful prayer flags fluttering in the wind. An amazing experience. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Bhutan, I encourage you to go…and take me with you!