Caves of Wonder located at 10,200 feet are Legendary Buddhist Caves called The Tigers Nest
For a person who is an admirer of the great Buddhist architecture, Buddhist Monastery or the Pagoda is usually the first thing that may ever come to his mind. Taktshang, a Monastery located in Bhutan, is one such fascinating wonder spots of Buddhist that is located at the edge of a mountain cliff and is situated at the height of over 2300 feet and at the foot of the Paro valley. The Monastery was built in the year 1692 and is also considered as one of the holy and religious places that are located in Bhutan. The very word Taktshang has its meaning known as “Tigers Nest” certainly does have a curious legend behind it that does explain the real reason why and how did these series of thirteen hanging caves were given such an interesting name.
Taktsang Monastery as it was before fire destroyed the roof
When speaking of the real legend and stories that are related to the construction of Monastery Taktshang, you can easily find its roots dated back to nearly 8th century and is also linked with the existence of real historical figure of Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche, as was better known. Guru Rinpoche is also called as the second Buddha as he was also responsible for the spread of the Buddhism religion across Bhutan and Tibet. He was also believed to be having some of the miraculous powers, as was believed by a number of common devotees who followed him; Guru Rinpoche had also traveled to a number of places along with the long lasting company of a number of tantrics and consorts of dakini, who were also believed to be vanquishing demons.
One of the former wife of a renowned emperor called Yeshe Tsogyal had also managed to join the company of Guru Rinpoche, willingly came to be known as the flying tigress so that she could in fact bear the guru to the top of the mountain cliff of Bhutan to the present place where the famous Monastery of Taktshang still stands. Amongst the various caves, one of the caves had also become a famous meditation place for the Guru Rinpoche where he had managed to come out with his eight manifestations, and later in the years this places was also declared as a holy place for most of the monastery and so it had derived it name the “Tigers Nest”.
Taktsang from the cafeteria
The original construction of the Tigers Nest Monastery has an equally interesting tale behind it. It is said that notwithstanding the sheer cliff face where Guru Rinpoche decided to land, the air-borne dakinis bore building material on their backs to facilitate the construction process. It remained a place of worship for the people and stood sturdily through the fire damages of April 19, 1998. The Bhutan government took extensive steps to restore it in its original glory by referring back to ancient pictures and other testimonials. It took years of toil and perseverance until the renovation was completed in 2005.
Tiger’s Nest Monastery with the fire destroyed part
Taktshang Monastery – Paro, Bhutan / Photo from ray_in_la
Today you can visit all the temples of the Taktshang Monastery standing at an altitude of 10,200 feet. However, prior to the ascending the slope on mule-back or foot, as a non-Bhutanese you require a special permit and a guide for the venture. Once you begin the trek, you can experience the close touch of nature in the woodland leading to the ascending slope with interspersing sound of a bell. However, if you are not used to walking for rough stretches on mountainous paths, you will do best to take a horse or a mule.
Tying Prayer Flags on a small Shrine in Bhutan
You have to be patient through your trek to catch the first glimpse of the much-coveted monastery, for you cannot see anything for the major part of the trek because of the interposing vegetation. Look out for the small prayer wheel as when you reach it, you can see what your eyes were thirsting for. When you reach up to the cafeteria viewpoint, the vision will get clearer and get provisions for ret and refreshment. From this point, you must ready yourself to climb a series of stone steps, cross a waterfall and accept the difference between what the monastery looked from a distance and what it really looks when you actually get there.
What is remarkable about the Tigers Nest Monastery is the variation of the four temples that appear different from one another. One of these is fabled to be the famous spot for the three-month meditation of Guru Rinpoche and the birthplace of one of the leading lamas. You must rest sufficiently and save some energy for the journey back. If you had covered the monastery-wards journey on foot, the second half of it can get particularly fatiguing. Yet the charm of the Taktshang Monastery is such that you will want to come back repeatedly.
Takstang Lakhang / Photo from Grete Howard
Tiger’s Nest Monastery / Photo from Grete Howard
Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan / Photo from Grete Howard
Tiger’s nest (Taktshang Goemba) monastery