The jaw-droppingly beautiful monastery clings precariously to a cliff at an altitude of over 10,000 ft above sea level and nearly 3,000 ft above Paro Valley. The hike up from Paro Valley requires 2 – 4 hours, depending on your fitness level and tolerance for the high altitude. Starting out in the early morning, the cold Himalayan air hits your lungs like a freight train.
Taktsang is also known as “Tiger’s Nest” because Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambahva) is said to have flown there on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. Legend has it that a former wife of an emperor willingly became the consort of Guru Rinpoche in Tibet. She transformed herself into a tigress and carried the Guru on her back from Tibet. The guru then meditated in a cave for three months where the monastery was later built. The cave is said to be the origin of Bhuddism in Bhutan.
Looking up at Taktsang from the bottom of Paro Valley, the first question that comes to mind is “How on earth did they get that up there?” The second question is “How on earth am I going to get up there?”
There are three options to reach Tigers Nest. The first is to fly on the back of a magic tiger. The next option is to ride a horse until you reach the 800 very steep stone steps leading to the temple.
Of course, my first preference was to fly on the back of a magic tiger but there were none available on the day of my hike. I love horses but find it profoundly unfair to be that big and still have to sit under someone’s ass all day. I chose to walk the entire way. I took some nice pictures of horses.
I have profound respect for the relationship between horses and people. Truth be told, I’m a little intimidated by them. This might have something to do with a rather petite stature and never quite reaching the stirrups, which leaves my bottom pretty sore. I prefer the view from the ground.