Excited by the thought of the long awaited Trek I was up before the Mighty Sun. I couldn’t wait so I set off to where my guide waited and since dawn is the perfect time to start your trek to spend some precious time up there. Finally there it was a streak of silver somewhere in the middle of darkness, which soon gave way to vibrant gold aura and the most amazing view of the Tiger’s Nest was right there inviting and energizing us to come, experience the blessing.
10 km north of Paro was where we had to start. We took a long, deep breath and took our first steps. It seemed too good to be true but the fresh, chilly breeze hit me as if to remind that it was indeed real. The women were just setting up their shops and so were the refreshment stalls being set up. The horses were also just being fed. As we moved further up the path was mostly rocky with boulders around. Tall pine and cypress trees stood on both sides of the path as if to welcome us. The trees were filled with birds which were chirping endlessly, this completed the awesomeness of the moment as it couldn’t have been any better.
The path narrowed as we moved further, the rocks were dusty and slippery, I had to be careful taking each step but the guide kept me entertained with intriguing stories of the monastery, tourists and other things.
Tiger’s Nest is also known by the name of Paro Taktsang and is the most sacred shrine of Bhutan. The monastery is dedicated to Padmasambhava, who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. Stories from the past say that Guru Padmasambhava fought and controlled a demon in those mountains and established himself there only and was later worshipped It was only after 9 centuries that the monastery was built. It hangs at the side of a rock mountain at 3100 m.
It normally takes 3-4 hours to reach up and come back but I am sure I took more than that. I proceeded gradually huffing and puffing but with increase in altitude the beauty of the scenery around was also getting extremely picturesque, so the challenging trek does have equivalent rewards after all. There were two major stops, one in a tea house which was said to be the half way and the 2nd one was in a view point, which was directly opposite to the monastery. The horses did not come beyond the 1st stop. After that there was another challenge and perhaps the most challenging of all. There were two flights of steps, one down the ravine and another up to the mountain. I was literally numb, my feet could not move any further but then my desire recollected all my strength and the guide was helpful enough to keep encouraging me and conquered the never ending steps.
I was finally up there but collapsed with fatigue. It took me a moment to catch my breath but soon I was up on my feet and I just couldn’t believe I was there at the top, right in the monastery. The ambience was just divine. There were number of different sized shrines. The interiors were interconnected with wooden ladders. The cave where Guru Padmasambhava meditated was colorful and full of paintings and morals. There were beautiful golden statues and butter lamps. It was amazingly silent in there which still said so much, only an occasional ringing of bells and the chants of the devotees could be heard. Breath taking view of greens of valleys, mountains and hills could be enjoyed from outside the monastery.
It was time to head down and I was ready, as the reward at the end of the killing uphill climb was too beautiful. With a happy heart we climbed down, it was not that challenging, only after the viewpoint, the path was a little steep and slippery and we had to be careful. By the time we reached down the market was in full swing, noisy and colorful as the women were giving their best to attract customers and trying to sell a plethora of souvenirs, trinkets and Bhutanese handicrafts.