This morning, we set off for Taktshang Monastery, better known to Westerners as “Tiger’s Nest.” It was a fabulous hike, not as hard as the one we did at Dochula Pass the other day, but still a challenge.
We made it from the base to the top in 2 hours and 15 minutes, which included a 15-minute break for coffee at the cafeteria along the way, as well as way too many photo stops. Once you get to the great vantage points for the monastery, you have a series of stairs that you have to climb down, before you head back up more stairs to reach the monastery.
Once you reach the base of the monastery, you have to put your cameras, cell phones, and bags in a locker before entering. Namgay guided us through eight different small temples. The temple was built in 1692 by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgye, a prominent historical figure whose current reincarnation is in his late teens or early twenties and is already an important figure in the clergy. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche flew to the location of Taktshang from Tibet on the back of a tigress.
I was dreading the stairs on the way back, but we stopped so frequently for photos that I got plenty of breaks. The elevation of Tiger’s Nest is right around 10,200 feet, so I was pretty winded throughout the hike.
We stopped again at the cafeteria on the way down for a buffet lunch, and Domingos and shared a Druk 11,000 beer, which was very refreshing. Then we continued down the rest of the way, which was a little rough on my knees but otherwise quite easy. Our total time from start to finish was five hours, which I think is pretty good considering our coffee and lunch breaks as well as many photo stops, as well as touring the many small temples comprising Taktshang Monastery.
Next, we drove a short way to the ruins of the 17th century Drugyal Dzong fortress, which was a key location in the 1600s for repelling numerous Tibetan invasions. There is a new fortress being built, so it was really cool to see the old and new next to each other.
On a short trip into town, where we wanted to buy a painting we had seen the previous day, we witnessed a singing and dancing competition. We only had time to stay for one group, which consisted of these older ladies singing and swaying back and forth.
Our last stop was another hot stone bath, but this one was just too hot for us – it felt at least 10-15° hotter than the one we had at Ugyen’s Farmhouse, and my skin still felt tender and sensitive two hours later.
Distance walked: 7.5 miles
Flights climbed: 199