Trek to Taktsang or Tiger's Nest

2016 has been quite a year for me with many firsts, some happy and some sad but one of my happiest memories from this year was a trek to Taktsang Monastery or Tiger's Nest in Paro, Bhutan. The trip is so special because all the odds were stacked against me. I was initially unsure whether the trip to Bhutan would happen or not. Later, I was unsure whether I would be able to visit Taktsang due to my poor health condition at the given time and last but not the least, the path to Taktsang was full of miracles for me. I was physically unfit due to lack of exercise and couldn't breathe properly due to an acute sinusitis infection, and, during the trek, had to re-think whether I can and should proceed ahead or not, I was stupid enough to not carry water along the way, yet I found water miraculously thrice during the trek and last but not the least I made it to the meditation chamber just when it was nearing closing time. I had planned for a trip to Bhutan in August and finally went for it in October. From the time of planning to making the actual trip, I was fascinated by Tiger's Nest. I thought, I will go for short treks on a weekly basis and prepare for it but it was not to be. I was suffering from an acute sinusitis infection and there were all sorts of tales that I heard that made me think that perhaps I wouldn't be able to make it to the Tiger's Nest but fortunately I did. Infact, I was the only one in my tour group who went for this trek, apart from our tour guide.

Taktsang or Tiger's Nest is one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan. Infact, someone told me that most Bhutanese people make an effort to visit it atleast once a year. Guru Rinponche or Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Legend says that his consort turned into a tigress and he flew on her back to the site of the monastery to subdue a demon. Guru Rinpoche meditated in a cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours here. It is said that the best thing you can do after reaching the monastery is meditate. Another important point about Taktsang is that whatever you wish for, comes true. However, you need to visit the monastery again next year to thank the Guru for making your wishes come true.

If you are visiting Bhutan or are a trekking enthusiast, you must visit Tiger's Nest and here's what you can expect on your way:-

Rumours - Rumours abound around the trek to Tiger's Nest. My local travel guide told me that the trek was very tough and arduous and you can only walk half the way, rest of the way you have to use mountaineering equipment or clefts in the cliff to climb-up. When I reached Bhutan, our Bhutanese travel guide also had something similar to add. She said that half the way is easy, thereafter you have to grab the cliff and do actual mountaineering. She even recounted tales of how she has carried some of her tour group members at times on her back because they were just too unfit to climb down. I can trek but mountaineering is not something that I have any experience with, and I was apprehensive about the trek after hearing these stories. Thankfully, the path to Tiger's Nest is a trekking trail and does not require mountaineering. 

Taktsang from the beginning of the trek
Waterfall at the beginning of the trek

Path - The path to Tiger's Nest is quite steep and dangerous at times. The monastery is situated at a height of 10,000 feet and the trek starts at around 7,000 feet. The altitude makes breathing a little difficult at times and it's better to do this trek after you have been in Bhutan for 2-3 days, especially if you are visiting from a hot place. The trek passes through scenic pine forests and waterfalls and is divided into two parts essentially. During the first part, you have an option to hire a mule and ride on it till you reach the centre point or Capital Area. These rides typically cost around INR 1000. You can also choose to buy trekking sticks that are sold at the base. I did not hire a mule or purchase a trekking stick but I would recommend that you carry a trekking stick as the trek is too steep and it helps a lot especially during descent. The mid-point of the trek or capital area is a plateau area with some prayer wheels, few resting benches and a restaurant. 

Taktsang from Capital Area

Small prayer wheels at Capital Area

Prayer wheel at Capital Area

Part 2 of the Trek - After crossing the Capital Area, the trek seems a bit relaxed as the path tends to wind up and down so while you have the same steep hill to climb, you also come across descending points that provide you some sort of relief. The path can be a bit narrow at times and if it rains, then it gets slippery wherein a single misstep can lead to a life threatening fall. On the way, you will come across dense pine forests, wild flowers, ridges with Tsa Tsa (Tsa Tsas are small triangular shaped molds of clay containing some central deity. Making them pacifies obstacles, bad conditions, accidents, and diseases) and small waterfalls. 

Prayer flags on the way
For me personally, the most beautiful part of the trek was hearing the Buddhist chants from the monastery throughout the climb. There is so much quiet and stillness there that you can hear the monks chanting from the time you start the trek till you reach the monastery. The chants, combined with the pine forests and beautiful views fill you with an utter sense of peace and joy. The last bit to the monastery has steep stone steps, spectacular views of the Paro valley and a gushing waterfall just before you reach the monastery. Photography is not allowed in the monastery. The entrance has some lockers, wherein you need to deposit your mobiles and cameras before you head to the monastery. The monastery has several temples of different Gurus and it is open during the following timing:-
  • 8 AM to 1 PM
  • 2 PM to 5 PM/6 PM on weekends

Paro valley view

A video posted by Gunjan (@gunjansen) on

The waterfall right before Taktsang

The trek takes a considerable amount of time and you should set aside atleast half a day for it. I made it to Guru Rinpoche's temple just when it was due to close for lunch. Luckily I did get to meditate there if only for a few minutes. It was quite relaxing. I returned back faster but the way down was quite taxing for my toes, thus, I really recommend a trekking stick. At the base, there is a small market of sorts, where hawkers sells bracelets, earrings, prayer wheels, keychains and trinkets. I missed out on shopping there due to lack of time but if you are into those things do shop there as the scope to bargain there is a lot and I did not come across those jewellery items anywhere else in Bhutan either.

Kyichu Lhakhang - After finishing the trek to Taktsang, we visited Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest buddhist temples in Bhutan. As per our driver, a journey to Taktsang is incomplete without a visit to Kyichu Lhakhang. I haven't really seen this being mentioned on the net anywhere but you must visit this temple because it is one of the most prettiest temples of Bhutan. I almost didn't make it here either due to an accident on the road. Infact, when we reached the temple, it was closed but lucky for us, some monks visited it at that time and the head priest re-opened the gates for them and allowed us inside as well.

Things to Carry - Do carry the following things for your trek:-

  • Comfortable clothes and shoes
  • Drinking water - lots of it, atleast 2 litres
  • Sunscreen and facial wipes
  • A trekking stick
  • A jacket or windcheater
  • An umbrella


  1. Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess
    I'll just sum it up what I had written and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to everything.
    Do you have any tips and hints for novice blog writers?
    I'd genuinely appreciate it.

    1. Just write about what you like and what you feel like writing. Preferably try to keep a fixed schedule, as in post at the same frequency. I don't really follow this myself but it does help a lot, not only does it build a habit of blogging regularly but also keeps your readers engaged.

  2. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home
    a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. An excellent read.
    I will certainly be back.

  3. Hello, just wanted to mention, I enjoyed this post.
    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

  4. First off I would like to say wonderful blog! I had a quick question that I'd like
    to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how
    you center yourself and clear your mind before writing. I've had trouble clearing my mind in getting
    my thoughts out. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems
    like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips?

    1. I normally go with the flow, I write whatever comes to my mind and then re-read it. Maybe, that's how you can go about it too, start typing what comes to your mind and then re-read your draft once or multiple times and organize it better till you are satisfied with what you have written.

  5. I'm impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that's both educative and interesting, and let me tell
    you, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that not enough folks are speaking intelligently
    about. I'm very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something regarding this.

  6. Saved as a favorite, I like your site!

  7. Thanks for posting this awesome article. I'm a long
    time reader but I've never actually left a comment. I've bookmarked your site and shared this on my Facebook.
    Thanks again for a great post!

  8. Hi there! This is kind of off topic but I need some
    advice from an established blog. Is it very difficult to set up your own blog?
    I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.
    I'm thinking about creating my own but I'm not sure
    where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions? Cheers

    1. Hi! No, it's quite easy. You can start a blog on Blogger or Wordpress in a few easy steps. Blogger is the easiest platform to use but Wordpress comes a close second. There is also Tumblr that you can consider. Just write from the heart and post regularly.

  9. Thanks for finally writing about >"Trek to Taktsang or Tiger's Nest" <Loved it!

  10. Does your blog have a contact page? I'm having a tough time locating it but,
    I'd like to shoot you an email. I've got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it improve
    over time.

    1. Hi, here are the details - Look forward to hearing from you soon, thanks!

  11. I'm really inspired along with your writing abilities as smartly as
    with the structure on your weblog. Is this a paid topic or did you modify it your self?

    Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is
    rare to see a nice weblog like this one today..

    1. Nothing is paid, just a personal initiative. Thanks!

  12. Hello! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look
    forward to all your posts! Keep up the fantastic work!

  13. Informative article, just what I was looking for.

  14. Hi there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was
    wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for
    my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having problems finding
    one? Thanks a lot!

    1. You need to go to Settings and then Comments, you'll find it there.

  15. Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks I have read
    stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have
    the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this page.

  16. Keep this going please, great job!

  17. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage?
    My blog site is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my users would really benefit from some of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this alright with
    you. Many thanks!

  18. After I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and
    from now on whenever a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment.

    There has to be a means you can remove me from that service?
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Hello, I don't have any such rights, you, yourself should be able to do it. The email that has the comment would have an option to unsubscribe - kindly click on that.

  19. Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss
    and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know
    my viewers would enjoy your work. If you're even remotely interested,
    feel free to send me an email.


Post a Comment