It feels like our entire trip was to prep us and serve as a warm up for this pilgrimage up to the famous Tiger Nest on our last day, Taktshang Goemba! The moment for this 5 hour round trip trek to the sacred monastery perched on a cliff 900m high above the Paro valley floor has arrived! It is said that Guru Rinpoche flew to the site of this monastery on the back of a tigress and meditated in a cave here for three months.
We went to bed early the night before to ensure we would be fit enough to climb up, my aunt took the horse ride up while I insisted on testing how fit I am after years of gym work.
The road up can be steep but management with occasional breaks, after a climb of about an hour we reached a chorten and tons of prayer flags and that leads to the wooden tea house restaurant. We went straight up without the coffee break for another 30 min where horses were no longer allowed, that was where we reached the spectacular viewing point to get a good panoramic view of the Tiger Nest, it feels so close after 2 hours of hike up yet it is still some 150m away sitting majestically on a cliff right across from us, it appears almost as if it’s part of the mountain protruding out into the sky.
The trail continues and in order to reach the Tiger Nest, this final challenge was not too difficult as the steps go downward passing through cascades of colorful prayer flags and an elegant waterfall, here we reached our final destination where bags and cameras need to be checked in. Voila, here we are! It feels so unreal at first sight since Tiger Nest was just a little white peck when we saw down from the ground some time ago and now it sits miraculously right in front of us, I cannot explain that feeling, I was overwhelmed and completely in awe with this holy structure.
We visited the temples and paid our respect and made donations as we are Buddhists, there is some sort of unspoken yet solemn aura about the monastery perhaps from all these years or centuries of prayings and blessings!
Going down the mountain was a challenge since we had to go upward first with the 100+ or more steep stony curvy steps to cross over the valley before we can do the smooth and easy descend, I was suffering a bit from the altitude so I literally was out of breath after climbing 2/3 steps upward.
As we go down the trail, we came across tourists who asked how much more they have left, local Bhutanese wanting to pay their respect, monks preparing for the arrival of the king the following day, workers removing the prayer flags to clear up the path for the king, the experience to visit or worship this holiest place in Bhutan was truly amazing!