The Tiger’s nest monastery also called Paro Taktsang is the star attraction in a Bhutan trip. It is perched precariously at a height of 3,120 metres (10,240 ft) and is without a doubt one of the most beautiful site I have trekked to in my lifetime. I spent a year in Bhutan and had the privilege of taking this hike to the monastery a couple of times in different seasons – sometimes with family groups, other times with friends but the best times I enjoyed were from April to July; though a couple of my friends went in late February and early March and it was pretty pleasant then as well.
The temple complex was built in 1692 where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated in the 8th century. Padmasambhava is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and is the worshiped deity of the country. Today, Paro Taktsang better known as Tiger’s Nest has become the cultural icon of Bhutan. A popular festival, known as the Tsechu, held in honor of Padmasambhava, is celebrated in the Paro valley sometime during March or April.
Here are some quick tips from my hike that will help you plan yours:
You need one full day for the Tiger’s Nest hike and monastery visit. So make sure you mark a day in your trip itinerary separate for this trek as the whole round trip takes up about 5-6 hours. The monastery is 10 kms outside of Paro. So hire a taxi and try to start your hike between 7-8 am so that you can be back in Paro by evening 3-4pm and after resting, enjoy a hearty dinner post the arduous trail at my favourite restaurant in all of Bhutan- Sonam Trophel.
If you have elderly people in your travel group who cannot hike, then there are mules available at the start point.
You can ask your tour guide or hotel to arrange a makeshift nice walking stick or rent a hiking pole at the base which you may see many locals carrying.
Enroute about halfway you will meet plentiful monks who serve local Bhutanese butter tea. My friend loved it though I did not enjoy it much because I am a sticler for sweet tea and this is more salty to say.
The trail is very pretty and I would say very enjoyable in a group. Click some great pictures and carry lots of water with you as there is only one cafeteria about halfway.
The whole trail has those colourful religious flags swaying with the breeze spreading the holy words across the Royal Kingdom. When at last you reach the temple believe me you will be speechless at the marvelous and oh so precarious architectural wonder in front of you. Cameras, mobiles and other belongings have to be deposited with the security before entering the temple.For a while I just sat back soaking in the beautiful scene all around me and then went to the monastery for the diety worship. Each time to Paro Taktsang has been beautiful and so calm and relaxing!