Taktshang Monastery
Taktshang Monastery

Taktsang Lhakhang is Bhutan's most iconic landmark and religious site. The name Taktsang translates to "The Tiger's Nest". This temple is one of the holiest sites in the kingdom and clings impossibly to a sheer cliff face 900 hundred meters above the Paro Valley.  The name Taktshang (Tag-Tigers, Tshang-Lair) got from the story that, in the 8th century Guru Padmasambhava came to Taktshang riding on the back of Tigress which is none other than one of his spiritual consort Khandro Yeshey Tshogyel from the eastern region of Khenpajong. After reaching there he had mediated for 3 months and subjugated the evil spirits there. And later in 853 his follower Pelkyi Singye came to the same place following his master mediated and given the name Pelphug, which means Pelkyi's Cave. And then he went to Nepal, and was died there. But the deity Dorji Legpa of Taktshang have miraculously brought his body from Nepal to Taktshang and it's sealed in chorten inside the monastery which can be seen today too.

Taktshang remained under Khathogpa Lamas until the 17th century, and in 1645 the site was offered to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and he wanted to immediately construct a temple there but he was busy with the construction of Paro Dzong. So before he could accomplish his vision of constructing a monastery he died. So his true follower 4th Desi of Bhutan Teszin Rabgay have constructed a monastery  in 1692 fulfilling the Zhabdrung's wish which was seen until 1998. 

View from Cafeteria
View of Taktshang Monastery from Cafeteria

Unfortunately in April 1998, Taktshang Monastery was completely burnt by fire and the government have rebuilt it and consecrated it in March 2005. Though most of the paintings and statues were lost to fire, the government had the photographs including the building, so it was restored in the original design. 

Inside the Monastery there are 9 temples of which8 are allowed for the visitors. The most important temple is the Guru Dorji Drolo Lhakhang where Guru have meditated in the 8th century. Though the main cave is locked and it's open only once a year in the 5th month of the Bhutanese calendar. And next is right on top of Dorji Dorlo Lhakhang, Guru Sungjoen Lhakhang which houses the statue of Guru Rinpoche which is said to have spoken out. And it is also a statue that survived the 1998 fire. After that is the Kure Lhakhang followed the temple which houses the Chorten (Stupa) which contains the body of Pelkyi Singye.  And as you walk up one floor you will reach the temple of eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. Next is the newly built Tshepame (Amityus) Lhakhang. On the extreme right is the temple that is dedicated to the god of wealth and the last one to god longevity (White Tara, Amitayus, and Unishavijaya). There is also a place where you can light the butter lamps.

View from the trail
View of Paro valley from trail

Taktsang Lhakhang is located approximately 10 km north of Paro town at an altitude of 3,120 meters. In order to arrive at the temple, we need to drive until the base. From there people can hire the riding horse which will go until halfway that till cafeteria. Or one has to Hike for around 2-3 hours. The trails are wide and you will meet lot of hikers. The trail goes through a beautiful mixed forest of pine, oak and Rhododendron forests. And you will also have the beautiful view of Paro valley and the greeneries around. 

There is a cafeteria at half way from where you will have a beautiful view of Taktshang monastery. And also you can use the washroom, and may like to have tea or coffee. And the trails after the cafeteria is also pretty similar as before until you reach top. From there, you have to take the stairs. There are roughly around 800 stairs one way, and at some points it pretty steep but there are railings which makes it safer. And also you will pass by a beautiful waterfall with lot of prayer flags just before you reach monastery. No trip to Bhutan would be complete without a visit to this remarkable heritage site.    

The accompleshment

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