Being the last day of our trip, we were kinda apprehensive to get up and get on with our day. But there was only one item on the agenda – Tiger’s Nest or Taktsang Monastery.
Hanging precariously and magically from a rather steep cliff, the Taktshang monastery is a monument of genuine pride for the Bhutanese nation. It defies architectural principles to the core and amazes tourists from around the world. It is a sight to behold. Taktshang or the Tiger’s lair as the monastery is called, it is widely regarded is one of the most important monuments of spiritual significance in Bhutan. Its history is deeply associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava, the revered Indian saint who came to Bhutan in the 8th century AD. The cave was named Taktshang after Guru Rinpoche flew into the cave from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan while riding on a tigress. When he landed in the cave, he took the wrathful form of Guru Dorji Drolo who is regarded as one of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche to decimate the demons. Several saints have chosen this sanctuary to pray and meditate in solitude. The monastery was built in 1692 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgaye who is said to be one of the reincarnations of Guru Rinpoche. The Monastery consists of four main temples along with their residences that are constructed along the rock ledge, 8 caves in total out of which 4 are relatively easy to access.
The monastery was ravaged by fire twice in the 1900s first in 1951 and later the fire of 1998, which nearly destroyed the monastery completely. The government then undertook a comprehensive reconstruction in 2009 with funding from foreign donors. The monastery was recreated to its original splendor and re-opened to the public shortly thereafter.The trek to the monastery is achieved in two parts – the car took us to a parking lot, the first half, and the next half we had to trek through an uphill route. The journey takes approximately 3-4 hours but all of us were completely out of touch with anything exercise related. So it took us exactly 6 and 1/2 hours.
Being super scared of heights, it felt like an impossible task. The route was actually carved out for horses who are used by people who are unable to climb the steep path. The path culminated in a series of stairs that went down and up and we finally reached the temple in 3 hours. Going around the temple was barely anything. We were ready to descend back to the parking lot. It is said that when one does not know the end point of the journey, the journey seems longer. But when one knows exactly how far the end is, the journey seems shorter! And that was exactly how the return journey was. Personally I feel that for me, it was a huge accomplishment. My mother with her knee problem reached till the monastery but didn’t go inside. My brother in law carried all his gear and walked the entire way along with me! My sister unfortunately didn’t climb with us, what with her being sick and all. We came back to the hotel, bruised but exhilarated and then proceeded to take advantage of the spa.
This brings us to the end of our trip to Bhutan. We had loads of fun. Reflections to come when every part of my body isn’t hurting so much!