When most people think of the word "monastery," they probably imagine a group of solemn men clad in robes, sequestered away in some remote corner of the world, living a life of quiet contemplation. But the Tiger's Nest monastery in Bhutan is nothing like that. This Buddhist temple, perched high on a cliff overlooking the Paro Valley, is one of Asia's most breathtaking and awe-inspiring sights.
Situated about 3,000 meters above the Paro valley, Tiger’s Nest is one of Bhutan's most important religious sites. The Tiger's Nest monastery was built in 1692 and is said to be where the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche (also known as the "Precious Master") meditated in the seventh century. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this spot on the back of a tigress, and that's how the monastery got its name.
The temple's surrounding area is also home to several caves used as meditation retreats by guru rinpoche and other important Buddhist masters.
Today, hundreds of pilgrims make the arduous journey to Tiger’s Nest each year to gain some of Guru Rinpoche's divine power and wisdom.
Some of the myths and legends associated with the Tiger's Nest monastery
According to one legend, the great Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche flew to the site on the back of a tigress, leaving his imprint on a rock at the entrance to the cave where he meditated.
Another legend says that Guru Rinpoche meditated in a cave for three years, three months, three days, and three hours to subdue a demon terrorizing the valley's people.
When is it open to visitors?
Tiger's Nest monastery is open to visitors throughout the year. However, the best time to visit is between October and November, when the weather is cool and dry. During this time of year, the monastery is often blanketed in mist, which adds to its ethereal atmosphere.
How much does entry cost?
The entrance fee for visitors to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest Monastery) is 2000 BTN (USD25).
Children below the age of 18 will be granted a 50% concession on the fees and children ages 5 and below will be exempted from the payment of fees.
How to get to the Tiger's Nest monastery?
The Tiger's Nest monastery, also known as Paro Taktsang, is a large Buddhist temple complex that is perched on a cliff in the Himalayan mountains. The views from the monastery are breathtaking, and the site's history is fascinating.
The only way to reach the monastery is by hiking up a steep trail from the Paro valley below. The best way to reach the monastery is to hike up the mountain trail. The trail is about 4 miles long and takes about 3-4 hours to complete the hike. There are also horses available for hire that can carry visitors part of the way up the trail.
The hike to the Tiger's Nest monastery is challenging, but it is well worth the effort. The views from the temple are simply stunning, and the sense of history and spirituality surrounding the site is truly palpable. If you are planning a trip to Bhutan, be sure to add a visit to Taktsang Monastery.
What are the highlights of the Tiger's Nest Monastery?
The Tiger's Nest Monastery is a stunning piece of architecture set on the side of a cliff.
The monastery building is comprised of 4 main temples, and there are 8 caves in total and is known for its architecture, paintings, and sculptures.
The monastery's main hall is the Dukhang, or "Assembly Hall." The Dukhang has a statue of the Buddha and murals on the walls. The monastery has a library, a shrine to Tibetan saints, and a garden.
Tips for visiting the Tiger's Nest Monastery
The hike to the monastery is strenuous, but the views are more than worth the effort. Here are a few tips for making the most of your visit:
Start early: The Tiger's Nest hike can take between three to five hours, depending on your fitness level. It's best to start out early in the morning to avoid the day's heat.
Wear comfortable shoes: The trail is rocky and steep in places, so it's important to wear comfortable shoes with good grip.
Bring plenty of water: There is no water available along the trail, so be sure to bring enough for the entire hike.
Take your time: There's no need to hurry on the way up or down. Enjoy the views and take your time taking photos. If you're tired, there are benches along the trail where you can take a break.
Finally, the monastery is an active religious site, so please be respectful of the monks and refrain from taking photos inside the temple. If you follow these guidelines, you will have a memorable experience at the Tiger's Nest Monastery.
The Tiger's Nest Monastery is one of Bhutan's most beautiful and spiritual sites. The hike to the monastery is challenging, but it is well worth the effort. The views from the temple are simply stunning, and the sense of history and spirituality surrounding the site is genuinely palpable.
Just remember to start early, wear comfortable shoes, bring plenty of water, and take your time. And if you're visiting the monastery, please be respectful of the monks and refrain from taking photos inside the temple. Following these guidelines will surely have a truly memorable experience at Taktsang Monastery.
Have you ever visited the Tiger's Nest Monastery? Share your experience in the comments below!