Have you seen the cover picture of this post before? If yes then you have read earlier something about Bhutan somewhere. Every other article on Bhutan will have Tiger’s Nest in its cover picture. The place has become a symbol of Bhutan and is considered the highlight of the trip. I wanted to find out the reason behind it myself and on one fine day, I was standing at the base of hill which we had to trek to reach the Tiger’s Nest (also called Taktsang Monastery) at the top.
My guide said to me that every year thousands of visitors come to Bhutan. They can forget everything else but will not forget Tiger Nest. It’s the one place they remember, when they are back to their home. After completing the trek, I could not agree more to him. There are two reasons for that – 1. The place is really beautiful and 2. It’s a reminder for a lot of people including myself that they need to work on their fitness level.
Tiger’s Nest is located in Paro district which has the only international airport of Bhutan and is the entry gate from aerial route. It can also be reached from Thimpu by road in around 2 and half hours. Once in Paro, your hotel can arrange a taxi to reach to base of the trek. However I would advise to hire a taxi from Thimpu and the driver can accompany you as a guide if you have hired him for multiple days.
For a person with average fitness the trek takes about 3 hours one way. There is a clearly defined path which one can follow and you will find many people climbing uphill. There is a restaurant on the way where you can take a break but make sure to check prices before buying an item as it highly overpriced. Roughly 70% of the route is a walk uphill and the last portion consists of stairs with high steps. The trek is not very tough but not very easy either. There are ponies available at the bottom of the hill which can be hired to reach a certain point but beyond that you have to walk. We did the entire trek on foot and it was a bit exhausting. Make sure you carry enough water and some snacks with you so that you have energy to come back. It’s better to start early in the morning so that you have ample time in hand and can finish the trek before dark.
Once you reach the top, you have to put your mobiles in a locker before entering the monastery. Also as you are entering a religious place, remember to dress up conservatively. Leaving aside the religious importance of monastery and peacefulness of the place, I didn’t find anything spectacular inside the monastery but it looks fantastic from a distance. The return journey would be comparatively easier so will take away some of fatigue. At the bottom there are some souvenir stalls in a small market.
I enjoyed the day trek to the monastery but this trek was also an eye opener for me. The desk job has already done some damage to the fitness and I felt quite tired when I reached the top of the hill. When I was seeing some older people finishing the journey along with me, I was thinking how will I finish such treks 20 years down the line. Lord Buddha called me to the top of hill to give some wisdom and something to think about.