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2013 Bhutan – Hike to Tiger’s Nest

Saturday, October 19 ~ Hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest

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We walked slowly up to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery close to Paro and situated on a beautiful hanging ledge. The photo of the Tiger’s Nest has become the symbol of Bhutan. Much of the trail is quite steep up to the famous viewpoint at a restaurant across from the Tiger’s Nest. The Bhutanese name is Taktshang Goemba for this beautiful Buddhist monastery. The trail becomes even steeper continuing on from the restaurant, but levels out on approaching the Tiger’s Nest.

Guru Padmasambhava, popularly known as Guru Rinpoche visited and sanctified Bhutan in the 8th century when evil spirits abounded and harmed people. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this site on a tigress’ back to subdue a local demon. Thereafter, he meditated here for three months.

Taktshang Goemba or Tiger’s Nest Monastery was blessed and sanctified as one of Bhutan’s most sacred religious sites. It hangs on a cliff and stands above a beautiful forest of blue pine and rhododendrons.

Since this was only our first full day in Bhutan and we were not accustomed to the altitude, this was a long hike up to 10,000 feet. The scenery along the way was beautiful and we all kept pace with each other. We stopped for tea at the restaurant half way to the top. Brian and I felt better for the last half. However, just before reaching the monastery, we descended 800 steps to the bridge at the base of the monastery and climbed the 300 steps up to the monastery. We reached the entrance half an hour before it closed for the monks’ lunch period. I almost cried when we stepped through the door and saw the steep flight of steps that still awaited us. Brian practically dragged me up the steps. When we turned the corner and came to the second flight still left, I crawled up on my hands and knees!

The hike back down was much easier and we stopped for lunch at the midpoint. Driving back to the hotel, we passed a group of farmers harvesting rice by the side of the road. After cutting the stalks with a sickle, the stalks were put into a machine that shook off the rice grains. The stalks are reserved for cattle feed, the grains were bagged. As it turned out, this was the only time we saw this mechanized process. Elsewhere in Bhutan, we came across farmers winnowing the rice.






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