Tiger's Nest MonasteryApril 15 2010 at 6:34pm Thimphu
The Takshang Goempa or Tiger's Nest monastery is one of the most spectacular sights to see in Bhutan. It is a monastery/temple perched high up on the side of a cliff face outside Paro. We were dropped a mile or so from the base of the cliff with indications to a broad track which eventually turned into a winding vertical path. We were told to expect a ninety minute walk. This was in 2000 when the Tiger's Nest had been nearly destroyed by fire and was closed to the public but visible across the chasm above the valley.
We gradually climbed the winding path up the side of the steep hill opposite the monastery. After about an hour of climbing, we came upon a little wooden cabin overlooking a precipitous drop – we were still some way from the monastery. It served drinks and food so we stopped for a drink. It had been an exhausting start to the day, but the sun and the mountain air were fantastically refreshing. After a further twenty minutes, we moved on having placed our order for lunch on the way down.
We continued on the winding path up the steep hill and eventually came round the side of the hill onto a ridge overlooking the valley. The sound of a winch broke the mountain silence. The workers who were reconstructing the monastery had set up a pulley and rope arrangement stretching down to the valley, bringing large timber beams up from below ready to be carried to a crossing point further round the cliff face to the monastery.
From the top of the winch, the team of workers was in constant motion, a human conveyer belt passing and carrying timber and other materials to the point opposite the monastery where another winch and pulley was ferrying the wood and other materials across the ravine which separated the path on which we stood from their final destination. Even though we were not able to visit the monastery, the views across to it and the hillsides around us provided breathtaking sights and it was a very memorable part of our stay in Bhutan.
Having taken in our fill of the views of the monastery and valley, we started to retrace our steps back to the base of the valley, stopping on the way for lunch at the cabin we had passed earlier.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the National Museum at Paro, originally the Paro dzong, interesting but not spectacular, containing mementoes from the various wars and invasions, inward and outward, but also religious artefacts and even the national philatelic collection.