Why is it called the Tiger’s Nest?
Legend has it that in 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew to this exact spot from Tibet on the back of a tigress. He came to subdue a demon and then took residence in a cave where he meditated for 3 years, 3 months and 3 days. This was how Buddhism sprouted in Bhutan.
The monastery, Takshang was built in 1692 around the cave where Guru meditated. The actual Tiger’s nest cave is behind this monastery and going there is very very very risky.
Hiking to the Monastery
The climb is not so gentle and becomes a bit tiring. If you are not so willing to take a hike uphill, then you can hire ponies (P.S. the ride turns out to be a bit scary). The monastery is at about 3000 ft and it took us around 3 hours to climb up to the monastery including the “pit stop” at Takshang Café. The café has an amazing and probably the best view of the cliff and the monastery. As suggested by local guides, if you look closely at the cliff above the monastery, you shall be able to visualize a giant face of tiger naturally carved into the cliff rocks.
- You don’t really require a hiking shoe and sticks for this. Normal sports shoe will do.
- There are shops selling sticks at hiking base but I would suggest against buying it. Trust your hand and foot, and if you opt for the stick then do bargain and take it on rent.
- Carry a wind cheater or umbrella and poly bags. Weather at times can go bad.
- Start early and try to reach the monastery before 12. Between 12 pm to 1 pm, it is lunch time and monastery is closed for visitors.
- Carry some snacks and chocolates or candies.
- At Takshang Café, tea and coffee are served with complimentary biscuits called Khabza – sweet & salty crackers, that costs about NTU 100, which is worth the view. Buffet lunch is available at lunch time but you have to pre-order it. We didn’t eat there.
- Please do not litter.
- Do carry a water bottle and when you reach the monastery, refill it up with the holy mountain water.
Photography is not allowed inside the monastery. All electronic gadgets are deposited in the locker room at the entrance where they might ask you for you permit.