Today is a National Holiday in Bhutan to observe the death anniversary of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the monk who unified Bhutan.
The locals all over Bhutan would be dressed in their traditional costumes visiting temples to pay respect. It is needless to say that there are many people heading up to Tiger's Nest Monastery. It is known a Taktsang in the local language and was burned down twice; once in 16th century and more recently in 1998. However, the buddha statues and relics survived the fire and are intact. Restoration works took five years and a new road was paved to reach the foot of the mountain. (somehow the facts told by the tourguide does not tally with online sources but I would presume that the locals have more accurate information)
There are horses that would bring you to midway of the hike but it looks way too risky and dangerous with the horse walking so close to the mountain edge.
Let the games (hike) begin! You are advised to stand at the mountain side when horses are passing by or risk getting pushed off the edge.
Before you reach the final destination, there's a V-shaped flight of stairs waiting to be conquered.
You will be greeted by a waterfall that brings the ambience temperature down by almost 2 degree Celsius (i guessed it).
Finally, you see taktsang in plain sight.
At an altitude of 3100m, you will expect to find puffy biscuit packs in your bag pack.
You are not allowed to bring in any bag and photography equipment inside Tiger's Nest Monastery so a bag comes handy to safe keep all your belonging. Our driver was extremely nice to watch our belongings while we toured the monastery.
I personally find that the hike was manageable except for the flight of V-shaped stairs that requires patience as you periodically pause to catch your breath. It's a little strenuous on the knees during the descent so do bring along your knee guards if required.
We took around 2h45m to get to the top which was pretty decent timing. Buffet lunch will be served at cafeteria midway down the hike before making your final descent.
Even at 4pm when we reached the bottom, there were plenty of cars around.
I would not say that the monastery is a must visit despite it being an iconic, widely talked about attraction. However you should definitely take up the challenge to complete the hike! There are people who only made it midway or turned by when the monastery is at viewing distance. In my opinion, your faith and determination would bring you there instead of the normative approach of pre-hike training and physique requirement. That's my personal take and YMMV (your mileage might vary).
The reward for accomplishing the hike is a table full of finger licking good Bhutanese dishes for the very last night!
This marks the end of the Bhutan travel series and I hope it gave some interesting insights about Bhutan!
In case you are wondering, the pictures were resized from almost 1GB to 30MB which explains the poor resolution. I can probably bump up the resolution a fair bit but my assumption is that people are not going to zoom in much while reading through the blogpost. Also, xiaomi phones doesn't do justify to scenic views. It produces blurred images for whatever reason.
If you happen to travel to Bhutan after reading this series, do drop me a line and share your experiences with me!
Till the next adventure.