The famous Tiger’s nest monastery is located north of Paro is on cliff, along its edge, at an elevation of 3120m. The Taktsang Palphug is a temple complex. The temple was first built in 1692 where Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padma Sambhava) has meditated for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days, 3 hours in 8th century. The rock slopes are very steep and become slippery when it rains. Taktsang has more than one approach. Tourists are taken along the less difficult terrain to climb.
We were there by in the dining area early in the morning as told. All of us had tea or coffee and were supplied breakfast packs and water. Local guide had come. Before we started towards Tiger’s Nest he told us that it generally takes two to three hours to climb up and less to get down.
We can as well travel by mules, but they always walk along the edge of the mountain and it may be scary. As we climb leave the edges for the mules and stick close to the mountains. If ever we fall, there is no guarantee for life but for sure they will recover our body.
Just because we have started we need not go to the top. We can as well cut short our journey at any point or at view point where the monastery looks to be very near and photographs can be taken. Photography is not allowed at monastery. We cannot even get full view of the monastery if we take photographs standing in front of monastery.
As it was said it will take almost 4-5 hours round trip I thought we will take another hour or two extra. It was decided not to travel on mules as they take us only for half the journey. Later trekking on foot is must.
We were at the base before 6 AM and trekking started by 6 AM after instructions. Minimal gear was advised. Always travel with company at least two together. The journey started in happy adventurous mood.
The path and landscapes with pine trees, villages seen in the valley and sunrays penetrating from behind the mountains to drench the trees around was meditative and mood elevating. We were moving very slowly capturing the mountains and moods and lost to our group.
It was surprising to see kids of 4-5 years trekking with their parents or women and men carrying their kids and babies on their back and climbing the mountains with ease and smile. I heard that in Bhutan people believe that they should visit Taktsang at the cliff at least three times in their life time. One young Bhutanese girl told me that she had already gone there twice and it took her less than three hours for the round trip, but one should be very cautious as it is slippery while coming down, more so when it rains.
Photos of Monastery taken at different levels
We both reached the Tiger’s nest by half past twelve. That is almost six hours. We stopped at the canteen that is midway. On the I took some videos on mobile phone, and some photographs at the view point. After the view point there are steps, first to climb down later up to monastery, all in all it is said there are 800 steps.
All our tiredness disappeared on reaching the monastery and visiting all the temples that are devoted to Guru Rinpoche and other deities of importance in Buddhism and building of monastery.
Standing in the temple premise and looking out one feels on top of the world. One has to just watch around and soak in the beauty and blessings of Nature. The view never fades in memory. The blessed feeling is forever.
By the time we returned to base it was half an hour past four. That means it took ten hours for us. Travel to Bhutan without visiting Tiger’s nest is not visiting Bhutan. Before travelling, elderly people, people who are not used to any physical exercise should go for a regular walk at least for a month. Persons with any heart and lung problems should carry their medicines and also take advice from their physician. It is better to travel half the distance by mules. When well prepared, the 8km round trip, trekking, climbing up and down 700-800 steps will be tolerated and worth pleasurable pain.
We had to end our trip abruptly after this due to occurrence of unfortunate incident at our home. WeChitra team helped to arrange for our immediate travel late that night. One of the enthusiast photographer has accompanied us for our safe journey that night in Bhutan. I am very grateful to the WeChitra mentors and Neeraj Sharma who helped us at critical juncture.
Overall, the trip was wonderful. I had learnt to hold my DSLR steadily and how light, the most important element of photography is affected by changes in ISO shutter speed and aperture to make or break a beautiful capture.