Paro is one of the largest valleys in the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan: More than the International Airport: Taktsang or the Tigers Nest in Paro has become the icon of Bhutan. Perched at the sheer cliff of a high mountain rock: there is nothing comparable in this world to this little monastery.
This part of the world: The Himalayas are said to be geologically unstable with frequent earthquakes. But this beautiful monastery made of just mud and wood and stone has been balancing here on this rock for several centuries… now experts will come with an argument wood and stone are earthquake resistant..now keep that logic behind please.
I entered Bhutan from Phuentsholing the western gate connecting India: the only International Gate open to tourists by road. Getting a permit for an Indian is very easy. you just have to submit an application at the emigration office and u receive a permit for seven days: matter of just an hour.
I started my trip from India via Phuentsholing: the eastern gateway to Bhutan. The road to Thimpu (a nice curvy ghat road) is cut through sheer cliffs: one of the most amazing routes in the world.
The road to Thimphu / Paro (Five hours from Phuentsholing) across high mountains (Dont expect snow peaks: but expect snowfall near Thimphu in December) is cut along the countryside mountains. It crosses evergreen forests, grasslands, alpine forests and finally high altitude alpine forests. There are few towns and several villages on the way. To make it short: its a beautiful must travel route.
At times you cross roads made by cutting sheer cliffs hundreds of feet high: roofing over the road at some places. There are a few waterfalls and streams.
There is public bus between Phuentsholing and Thimphu till afternoon and shared / reserved (booked) taxi ply between the cities till evening. There is a considerable truck traffic as most of the exotic goods to Thimphu comes from Phuentsholing. But trust me the drivers are not bad and accidents are very rare.
A stopover at Paro City to get everything: Solid and Liquid food (Liquid food is available everywhere but Gaseous food is banned in Bhutan). Taktsang is located a mountain beyond Paro main city so it cannot be seen from most of Paro’s city.
I was welcomed at Thimphu by my friend Tandin Dorjee and friends. He was my student at Sherubtse College in Kanglung: in east Bhutan. By the way I worked in Bhutan for one year: as a lecturer in Computer Science during 2009- 2010.
We were about 10 people ready to go for the weekend trip… all working at the National Newspaper of Bhutan Kuensel. Everything was already set: The itinerary, the groceries, the vehicles..everything.
We started the next day early morning to Paro. Paro is about 45 minutes from Thimphu: The adjacent hill. The route has less ups and downs when compared to other roads of Bhutan.
We rode along the beautiful Paro valley crossing the airport and the the mammoth Dzong to reach at the foot of the mountain. As we approached the mountain, I could see the nest staring at me, hanging at the middle of the high cliff.
The north western corner of Paro valley is bounded/guarded by the Paro Taktsang. The valley is marked by this pine trees welcoming to Taktsang of the Tigers Nest.
We are welcomed by a forest of pine trees at the end of the road. We parked vehicles at the parking lot and started walking towards the hill.
The There were not many people: many Bhutanese few Indian tourists and a couple of Europeans.
View of Tigers Nest perched on the cliff. Our final destination is the hill (Pinacle) you see behind in this photograph. As far as I know this is the one and only one construction in this world built on a cliff like this.
You cannot take your eyes off the nest as u wonder how it was constructed on the middle of that sheer 1000 feet high rock. You need a professional rock climbing equipment even to reach there: before the construction of this trek route.
Many trips down: as they are busy looking a the nest and not on the ground while walking.. ..
The Trekking team: One walking front is Tandin Dorjee: my student at Sherubtse College: All of them are working in Kuensel : the official newspaper of Bhutan. We took all the food and stuff we require with us.
The trek route to the nest was wide at the foot hills but becomes narrow as we ascent. This is favorite for young adventure lovers, elderly lovers and very elderly god seekers. There were lot of old people climbing up to the tigers nest reciting Oh Mani Pad me Hum..
The trek to tigers nest takes roughly two hour trek: and not really tedious. For the lazy and old horses are available. There is a restaurant half way.
It takes about two hours to reach the top. Though most of them can make it through, few of the tourists demand horses.
Another little beautiful monastery near Tigers Nest. I wounder how was this made: and these structures were made several centuries ago.
Tigers nest is not just one nest. There are many temples inside and surrounding the tigers nest. Few of them are inside the huge fissures of the rock. Its breathtaking. Not everyone are allowed to visit all of them.
One can see a beautiful birds eye of Paro valley from the nest. A couple of years ago, it was a farming valley. Modernization has changed a lot with a lot of bigger houses and buildings.
Something one must never miss is the view of rain in Paro valley from Tigers Nest. It is one of the most wonderful sights in the world. (You can see a shot of this in the book Himalaya Mountains of Life).
Finally after a good and blessed trek, we reached the Tigers nest. There were lots of prayer flags around us and all happy and satisfied people. We were blessed.
After visiting the Tigers Nest, we continued our trek to Bumdra, another remote monastery further ahead of Taktsang.