Tiger’s Nest or Taktsang Palphug Goemba, as the locals call it, is probably the most famous landmark in Bhutan. The monastery is perched atop the edge of a 1200 meter tall cliff at an elevation of 10240 feet above sea level. This is located just over 10km north of Paro.
According to the legend related to Taktsang Goemba, Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. The legend goes that Guru Rinpoche flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress from Khenpajong. This place was just a cave in the 8th century. He meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours and the place became holy. The monastery is subsequently said to have been built around the cave where Guru meditated in 1692.
Hike to Tiger’s Nest can take a long time. How much time one can take depends on the stamina and fitness of an individual. It is better not to compare oneself with fellow travellers. Supremely fit persons can finish the two-way hike in as less as three hours. But most people will take more than five hours. Even people in the age group 70s and 80s have managed to do the two-way hike. They can take as long as 8 to 9 hours.
For those unwilling to take the entire hike has an option to take horses as an alternative. Horses can ride visitors to a little more than half the hike. Horses can go to where a cafeteria is located. Visitors normally stop here to rest for some time while going up the hike to the monastery and while coming down from the monastery. However, it is advisable to be very cautious while going on horses. A few accidents have happened in the past.
Hiking up is quite difficult physically but hiking down is not easy as well. This is even more challenging in seasons when there is snow scattered on the path.
If you are good at your fitness, you can hike all the way to the top in less than three hours. But those looking for an easier option can book a horse ride till an allowed point and then hike from there. But taking a horse is not a safer option as there have been few incidents in the past.
Most guides advise tourists to start the hike in the morning. Please note the monastery closes between 12 pm to 1 pm for lunch. It is, therefore, advisable to time the hike in such a fashion that a visitor reaches there much before 12 pm or after 1 pm. Normally, it takes half an hour to around forty minutes to explore the Monastery from inside. The Monastery consists of four main temples and several caves and atmosphere inside are quite mystical. Tourists have to submit all their stuff outside. Please be mindful that photography is strictly prohibited inside Tiger’s Nest.
It is better to carry sufficient quantity of water on the hike. There is just one cafe on the midway where guests can get water. Visitors should also be mindful of the fact that weather can play a spoilsport any time in Bhutan. It is better to keep one day spare in a kitty for this hike. While doing the hike, it is preferred to wear hiking shoes.
For Bhutan tour packages and a hiking trip to Tiger’s Nest, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can also call at +91-9163580464.