Taktshang Goemba (which translates as Tigers Nest Monastery)
Every day here has elements of adventure, but the past weekend has presented true adventure as we have travelled to Paro to hike the Tigers Nest Monastery. Simply getting anywhere in this country is a challenge. The roads are mostly partially sealed, bordered by steep drop offs, hair pin corners, no center line markings and pot holes that look more like craters. Seat belts are not part of the equation as it is safer to not wear, just in case a quick exit from car the car is needed before it plunges over the edge. Yikes.. I have learned to just look out across the horizon as we are driving, never down. Thankfully we never exceeded 50 km, as I don't think my nerves could of taken high speeds as well. The first weekend we travelled to the iconic Tigers Nest Monastry, which is the most famous and sacred site of all Bhutans monasteries. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to the site of the monastery on the back of a tigress to subdue a local demon and then mediated in a cave for 3 years, 3 months and 3 days. It is also said that the orginial building was anchored to the cliff face by the hairs of a female celestail being. At an elevation of 3140 metres it is an architecutal feat, and hiking up to it was a considerable feat as well. Sadly, we had no tigress to fly us up the top so we had to rely on our hiking boots .It is well worth the effort. Altough well visited, it does not feel touristy. The place invokes a sense of wonder, as to how this ancient building was built back in the 16h century. Tigers Nest is a very majestic and spiritual place to visit, and I suspect that the celestial forces will have it sitting there for a millennia to come.
|Locals selling their goods at the start of the hike.|
|Horses are available to ride to the top|
|Another beautiful prayer wheel we passed on our way up|
|tea break on the way up|
|Glimpses of Taktshang like this spurred us on to our final destination|
|Machig-phu Lhakhang which is where Bhutanese pilgrims come to pray for children|
|The short hike down before it was up the other side to complete the 700 steps to get to the entrance of the monastery.|
|entrance to monastery. No cameras allowed past this point|
|Love this sign on the trail|
|Two characters ejoying the day|
|We stopped at the cafe for some lunch|
|A yummy vegetarian buffet of bhutanese food, red rice, ema datse ( large green VERY HOT chillies) lentil soup, and buckwheat noodles.|
|Our guide, Lekey, who took care of us on the weekends by sharing his beautiful buddhist religión with us and showing us his country|
Khuru is a popular darts game played on a field about 20m long. The darts are homemade from a block of wood, and a nail, and maybe some chicken feathers for flight. These guys were playing a game on our way down from the hike so we had to stop and watch.
|Notice the VERY small target in the middle of the picture|
|The colorful scarves around their waist represent the number of times they have hit the target. In this photo they are doing a song and dance to celebrate the success of a throw.|
Drukgyel Dzong (fort)
Dzongs are like fortresses, but they also house a monástic section and the local district adminstration. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, known as Shabdrung or the unifier of Bhutan brought the whole country under one rule for the first time back in the 17h century. He is worshipped as a diety all over the country. Most of the Dzongs were built by him.
|This massive forttress is a great example of Bhutanese architecture|
|This is the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin. They are kept in a reserve a few kilometres outside of Thimphu . These strange looking creatures look to be a cross between a bison, goat, yak, and rhinoceros.|