Perched on a cliff 10,000 feet above Bhutan’s Paro Valley rests the temple known as Paro Taktsang, or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The monastery was built on the Taktsang Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhava, (an Indian sage guru responsible for bringing Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet) is said to have meditated sometime in the 8th Century. Legend has it, the Guru ascended to the cliff on the back of a flaming tigress, and meditated there for quite some time. Since the Guru’s storied visit, the monastery has been the site of numerous historic visits from various sages in the Buddhist tradition.
Visitors can climb to the temple on foot or by mule in two or three hours, however, entry is permitted only to practicing Buddhists. The outside of the temple is a thing of beauty, but the understandably, cameras are not allowed in its interior. One can only imagine the inside or hear accounts of those who have been lucky enough to enter. All in all, the monastery contains six distinct temples, with each having been constructed in memory of a different sage.
The first temples at the current site were thought to have been built in the early 16th century. Construction of the temple as it stands now began in 1692, under Bhutan leader Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. Since its original construction, the monastery has suffered severe fire damage multiple times, with the most recent reconstruction coming in 1998. The image above shows the monastery as it was before its last serious fire damage.