It is a Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and the temple complex is located on the cliff side of the upper Paro valley in Bhutan. The temple complex was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated in the 8th century.
Standing on top of this mountain, you can feel the bone-chilling heavy wind coming from the valley
Padmasambhava is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and is the tutelary deity of the country. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen Taktsang or “tiger lair” caves in which he meditated.
A lot of tourists and natives visit this old monastery on a rock cliff. A 3-hour trek through a narrow 6km mountain path leads us to this paradise. Standing on top of this mountain, you can feel the bone-chilling heavy wind coming from the valley.
I woke up early in the morning. I went out to see the frozen river close to where we stayed. It was cold but I was excited about the trek. The breakfast was ready by 8 am. Most of our team members were not yet ready. The hotel management clearly told us last night to keep the taps in washroom open, to prevent water from freezing inside the pipes. Flowing water won’t freeze fast. Most of them forgot to do this and the washrooms were without water. They were really concerned with water preservation.
The sun was shining and cold wind blew from the valley. I sat on a rock, basking in the sun
Our plans changed as everyone couldn’t report at 8:30 am as scheduled. We left the hotel 2 hours late around 10:30 am. We went to the Tigers Nest, obtained tickets and started climbing without wasting much time. Girls in our group bought walking sticks. There were many tourists and we were already late. Others seem to be less interested. So, I didn’t wait for anyone and I increased my pace. The trail was narrow, dusty and ascending steeply. I sat under trees in between and relaxed. I only had 1 bottle of water.
I was the first in our group to reach the temple. But the entry was only allowed with the tickets. My ticket was with the tour guide. So, I had to wait another 2 hours for them to reach. There was a frozen waterfall and some stones nearby. The sun was shining and cold wind blew from the valley. I sat on a rock, basking in the sun. Few dogs came near and sat beside me, maybe looking for biscuits. I didn’t carry any food. So I took a nap.
The best moments in Bhutan was the 2-hour trek to the top of this monastery, exhausted and resting on top of the mountain. I witnessed a snowfall for 10 minutes or so, my first experience, it was heavenly.
It was getting cold and we were tired. The danger of leaving them in the wild gave us some courage and stamina to travel back
Once the tour guide came, I entered the temple complex. There are 8 caves and 4 temples inside. Space is limited and narrow. Temples are small but with intricate designs and images of Buddha on walls and numerous idols. There are also ancient texts kept there. Our guide was explaining everything in detail. By the time everyone reached, it was time to close the monastery. A few of them returned without entering the temple.
The entire team was split with another group of travellers while returning. It was late and dark and our group members lost their way. Our tour guide, Sonam Dorji, was worried and we decided to go back looking for them. We went up in the dark. It was getting cold and we were tired. The danger of leaving them in the wild gave us some courage and stamina to travel back. At some point, we stopped for a while. My legs were aching and I was thirsty. I had a pint of locally made alcohol, known as Ara, made of fermented rice. I offered Dorji some but he was not into alcohol, instead he chewed pan. So I drank it to get some energy.
We had to return fast and there was no one to ask for help
We continued walking back and found others after a tiring 3 hours search. One of the members was from Delhi about 65 years old, he had a muscle cramp, was dehydrated, and unable to walk. It was cold and dark. We had to return fast and there was no one to ask for help. So Dorji and I carried him on our shoulders all the way down in the dark with only our mobile phones LED flash through that muddy mountain path from where we found him.
Everyone was happy to reunite in the valley. It was about 9 pm, even the officials there left. Dorji was very angry about what happened. No one uttered a word. Tired and sweating we returned to our hotel.
It was one of the best treks I ever had.