Monday, January 24, 2011

Tiger's Nest Monastery

The morning started early. We were breakfasted and on the road in the bus heading for the Tiger's Nest Monastery by 7.15. About 30 minutes later we began our ascent of the mountain accompanied by 4 or five scruffy but friendly dogs. We were at about 2,200 metres when we began our trek and were heading for the Monastery which was about 3,000 metres. The beginning was easy enough but soon the combination of altitude and exertion began taking their toll. My heart was pounding in my ears as I removed layer after layer of clothing. The trail took us past a water powered prayer wheel in a clearing filled with prayer flags which, on the way down was the site of a shopping opportunity in the form of a sheet laid out on the ground with Bhutanese 'treasures' laid out carefully and 'shop keepers' eager to sell.
Onward and upward.
We stopped for a breather after about 45 minutes of pretty strenuous hiking, drank water and cooled off sufficiently to start up agin with gusto.
We passed more prayer wheels big and small and thousands of prayer flags going in every direction in a riot of colour.
We made it to the cafeteria in pretty good condition and after a short rest continued further up the mountainside to the bird's eye viewpoint.
Words cannot do justice to the scene.Suffice to say it was a view unlike any other I have seen. The monastery was literally growing out of the cliff face and clinging to the slope following the contours exactly. We chose not to continue the rest of the way to the actual monastery instead opting to enjoy the view from a distance. Two of our party did, in fact, reach the buildings and they reported that it was an amazing experience to be so close to something so special.
Standing around and enjoying the view was fine for 15 minutes or so but we started to freeze so we descended back to the cafe with it's roaring wood stove and nice hot cups of tea. We warmed up and further took in the views until the rest of the group rejoined us and we all set off downhill together.
We met many people making the trek upwards and we tried out all our known Himalayan greetings, Kuzuzampola for the Bhutanese,Tashi Delek for the Tibetans and Julay for the many Ladhakis we met. Men and women, old and young, fit and unfit, all were eagerly climbing up intent on reaching the hallowed grounds and buildings of the monastery. We even encountered a family of Aussies making the ascent on pony back! I
The monastery has a fascinating history which is well worth investigating.
Once we returned to the bus we all felt as though we had been part of something very special and were happy that we had been able to do it on only our second day in Bhutan.


  1. Loving the blog. What wonderful photos, cant believe a place like that can survive.

  2. Keep up the blog. Love reading about your adventures!