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Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest) - the Landmark of Bhutan

There are many featured monasteries in Paro, but no one is more famous than Taktsang Monastery (short for Paro Taktsang Palphug Monastery). As the landmark icon of Bhutan, it is used as the cover of most of the books related to Bhutan. Hanging on the precarious sheer cliffside about 900 meters (about 3,000 feet) above the floor of Paro Valley of Bhutan, Taktsang is such a remarkable architecture that it will catch your eyes at the first sight. Because of its astonishing construction, people listed it in the Ten Most Magical Monasteries of the World. In the early morning, Taktsang Monastery is always surrounded by thick fogs and misty, which makes it a wonderland.

In addition to its architectural charm, it enjoys a great significance in Buddhism. It is built to dedicate Guru Rinpoche – one of the most famed Buddha in Buddhist history. The legend about Guru Rinpoche behind Taktsang Monastery is magical and amazing as its location. Many Buddhists have come here to mediate or make a pilgrimage. Therefore, Taktsang Monastery becomes the holiest temple and one of the most prestigious Buddhist sites in Bhutan.

Taktsang Monastery Facts

Ratings:

#1 of 115 Attractions in Bhutan

Season:
April ~ May & September ~ November
Type:
Religious Site, Landmark, Monastery
Altitudes:
3120 meters
Location:
Upper Paro Valley, Bhutan
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How to Get to Taktsang Monastery

Taktsang is located on a sheer cliff at 3,120 meters, 10km to the north of Paro. Mostly, tourists travel from Paro Town to Taksang Monastery. Paro can be reached by nonstop international flights from Nepal, India, Thailand, Bangladesh and Singapore. With short driving and 1~2 hours’ trekking, you will reach the monastery.

Flights to Paro

Paro Airport, the solo international airport in Bhutan, is well-connected with Kathmandu (1 hour), Kolkata (1 hour), New Delhi (2.5 hours), Guwahati (55 minutes), Siliguri (30 minutes), Bangkok (3 hours), Singapore (5 hours) and some other cities in India in peak seasons. Most popular gateway cities are Kathmandu and Kolkata which both offer about 11 weekly flights to Paro. Read more>

Paro Town to Taktsang Monastery

It needs to drive about 12km (25 minutes) from Paro Town to the parking lot of Taktsang Monastery, which is just at the foot of the hill. Then you have to take a trek about to get to monastery. It is also available to take a horse to the tea house called cafeteria firstly, and then trek to monastery.

Taktsang Location Map
Taktsang Location Map

Legend of Taktsang Monastery

In the legend, Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flaw the site of Taktsang on the back of a tigeress from from Khenpajong, Tibet to subjugate a demoness, so Taktsang is also known as Tiger’s Nest Monastery or Tiger’s Nest for simple. After that, he had mediated in the cave for three months and subdued the Eight Categories of Evil Spirits and converted Paro Valley to Buddhism. Then, Guru Rinpoche returned to Tibet and transmitted his teaching to his disciples. In 1692 (Three year, three weeks, three days and three hours after Guru Rinpoche’s mediation there), the complex of Taktsang Monastery, dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, was constructed by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye who is believed to be the reincarnation of Padmasambhava. Because of its Buddhist significance, it becomes one of the venerated places of pilgrimage in the Himalayan Kingdoms.

Taktsang Monastery
Statue of Guru Rinpoche

What to See in Taktsang Monastery

Before you reaching Tiger’ Nest Monastery, you will be impressed by its marvelous appearance in distant. Every traveler may wonder how it can be constructed on such a steep cliff but nobody can give an answer. The monastery enjoys a thick fragrance of the burning incense and the crowded inside temples are shared by lots of praying devotees. Once you walk into the walls of Tiger’s Nest Monastery, you can see dozens of small halls, alters and caves to explore.

You will firstly pass by the underneath images of the Rigsum Goem. In the right, you can find a relic stone which is said to be able to test the form of karmic. Next, what you can’t miss is Dubkhang in which honored Guru Rinpoche mediated. Out of the cave stands a gold statue of Guru Rinpoche on a tiger. There are exquisite murals of eight embodiments of Guru Rinpoche. There is another cave in Dubkhang but it was always closed.

Continuing your visit from Dubkhang, you will get to Guru Sungjem Lhakhang where the statue of one embodiment of Guru Rinpoche. You can also enjoy the murals o the wall. On the left side of Guru Sungjem Lhakhang is another Lhakhang dedicated to Dorje Phomo. The murals on the wall tell her story. The inside hall houses Langchen Pelye Tsengay, one disciple of Guru Rinpoche, who mediated there in 9th century. Behind the Lhakhang, you can see a sacred spring.

Besides, it is worthwhile to visit Guru Tsengye Lhakhang, which is enshrined with the image of the founder of Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Gyelse Tenzin Rabgay.

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Taktsang Monastery Great View of Taktsang Monastery in Suny Day

Taktsang Monastery Magical Taktsang Monastery in Early Morning

Trekking to Taktsang Monastery

Trekking is a must if you want to savor the beauty of Taktsang Monastery in a close distance. For those people who have good energy and sound body, it takes about 2 ~ 3 hours to reach Taktsang Monastery from the parking lot. The road is well constructed and maintained. The trekking distance is about 4 kilometers in total. If you have difficulty in full trekking, you can choose to ride a horse for the first hour, but remember to ask your guide to book the horse before your tour.The experience of trekking to Taktsang Monastery is a challenging and fulfilling trip but it is really well-rewarded with the splendid landscape.

Starting from the park, the trail is wide and mud, but not overly steep. The scenery along the trail is tranquil and picturesque, and you can take a deep breath of the fresh air. Before long, you will pass through a waterfall which drops 200 feet into a sacred pool, some prayer wheels operated by waterpower, and thousands of prayer flags fluttering in the wind. Climbing higher, you will also witness many chotens (small temples) with prayer wheels. Trekking or ridding about 1 ~ 2 hours, you will get to the halfway rest stop - Cafeteria where the horses can have some water and travelers can admire a perfect view of Taktsang Monastery. Cafeteria offers some traditional Bhutanese food and snacks as well as some hot drinks like coffee, tea and milk. Many tourists have lunch there in their journey downhill from Taktsang Monastery.

After the teahouse, you will go on with your trekking the viewpoint where you can overlook Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Many travelers shot an iconic photo there. Then, you will walk down about some steps to a bridge which is covered with colored prayer flags. Next, make a bit strenuous but incredibly rewarding climb to the entrance of the monastery.

Taktsang Trekking Map
Taktsang Trekking Map

Taktsang Monastery Trekking Trail to Taktsang Monastery

Warm Tips for Taktsang Trip

Visit Permit: The standard permit is a must for visiting the inside part of Taktsang Monastery. Work out your travel itinerary before your tour, and the tour guide will arrange the permit well.

Security Check: At the entrance of Tiger’s Nest Monastery, your belongings (cameras, phones or other electronic equipment and bags) are not permitted to be taken into the monastery. A security guard will check the tourists with a metal detector to make sure nobody smuggles cameras. He will also instruct you to button your coat and take off your shoes as marks of respect.

How to Plan: Taktsang Monastery is typically planed as the last attraction of a Bhutan tour after your round trip of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha or other destinations in central Bhutan. In this way, tourists are able to acclimatize the higher altitude and be more prepared to trek the trail to Taktsang Monastery which enjoys a high altitude of over 3,000 meters. Otherwise, you might be simply too tired to halt anywhere after your Taktsang trekking.

Riding Horse: If you want to ride a horse in the first hour’s tail, remember to inform you guide at the beginning of your tour, so the guide can book a horse for you in advance. The horse can only take you to ascend in the first section of the road, and then you have to trek to the monastery. For your safety, the rental service is not available when it rains or the path is slipper. The whole descent journey requires trekking because it’s too steep for a horse. The price of riding a horse is about $ 10 per person.

Photography: Taking pictures inside the monastery is strictly forbidden. However, you can take many beautiful photos on your road to the monastery. Cafteria in halfway and the highest viewpoint both offers amazing sight of Taktsang Monastery, so you can take some nice shots there.

Timing for entry of tourist: 8.00am - 13.00pm and 14.00pm - 16.00pm daily from October – March & 8.00am - 13.00pm and 14.00pm - 17.00pm daily from April to September

Toilets: There are no accessible washrooms on the way except one at Cafeteria. In the monastery, there is one but you need to pay for using it.

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