Tiger’s Nest takes the cake in Paro. It is obvious that if you are in Paro, you would have trekked up to the Tiger’s Nest, formally known as the Taktsang Palphug Monastry. Perched on a high and steep cliff and amidst lofty pines, Tiger’s Nest is probably the most popular and most photographed sight in Bhutan.
Folklore running down through ages has made it a pilgrimage which every Buddhist in Bhutan undertakes at least once in his life. Legend has it that Guru Rimponche flew to this cliff on the back of a tigress to kill a tiger demon. And that is why, you will find believers of every age, solemnly undertake the arduous trek to the Taktsang Monastry, rosary in hand and prayers in lips.
Arduous because, Tiger’s nest is about a 3000 feet climb from the Paro Valley. Steep, without any pucca roads, it can take anywhere from 2 hours to 3 hours to reach the monastery from the foothills. Sonam, our guide, had told us that we could hire a horse for Ridi (our 6 year old daughter), and we didn’t argue with him. We also took the trek somewhat easy, so as not to stress ourselves out. That way, we enjoyed the climb both ways.
5 things to remember while taking the Tiger’s Nest trek—
- The trek to the Tiger’s Nest is a mix of hill trekking and stairs. Depending upon your speed, after about one and a half hours to 2 hours of trekking, you will find yourself looking at the Tiger’s Nest straight on the opposite cliff. A flight of about 700 staircases lead up to the monastery. The stairs are cemented, but rather uneven, and could trouble you if you have poor knees.
Horses are available on rent for the climb up to the staircase. They charge upward of Rs 700 per person. If you book a horse (which we did, through our guide) one day in advance, you can expect to get a discount. But note that the horses can’t take the stairs. Plus, there are no horses on the climb back, as the hill is too steep.
- There are specific entry timings at the Taktsang Monastry — 8 AM to 1 PM and 2-5 pm daily from October to March, while it is until 6 pm from April to September.
- Photography is not allowed inside the Taktsang Monastery. You will have to deposit your camera, purse/bags and mobile phones with the security personnel at the entrance of the monastery.
- Dress modestly for the Monastry. Full length dresses with long sleeves for women, and long pants for men is preferred. Plus, they do not allow caps/scarves to be worn inside the monastery. Not even for children.
Depending on the time of the year, the climb to the Tiger’s Nest can be cold. Get your jackets, woollens, caps and raincoats after checking the weather charts.
Further, owing to the horses, the trek can get somewhat dusty. Carry nose-guards/long scarves if you are allergic to dust.
- There is a restaurant midway through the climb. Stop by on your way back for lunch or snacks or simply tea/coffee/water. They have a relatively clean toilet too. You, of course, should carry enough water and fruit drinks for the climb, in order to guard yourself against cramps or dehydration.