However, nothing quite prepared me for the Taktsang Temple in Bhutan. This temple complex seems to rise up out of the mountains and appears to cling to the surface of the cliffs next to it.
Many tourists flock to this spectacular temple and climb the rigorous trail to the top. The initial climb starts out in a relatively easy ascent.
However, as the trail spirals upwards toward the temple precinct the climb offers many rigorous sections. It is essential that you bring sunscreen, a hat to shield your head and face from the sun, and of course bottles of water to keep yourself hydrated.
This Buddhist Monastery, reached via a tiring three hour climb, is really a must to see when visiting Bhutan.
If you feel the need to lessen the strain of the climb, horses can be used to carry you more easily up to the top of the mountain.
When I visited Bhutan, because of breathing problems, I remained in the car in the large parking lot at the base of the trail. As I watched my companions disappear up the trail I felt a pang of jealousy that I was unable physically to ascend with them. I watched as tourists departed from buses and private cars to share the experience of climbing to the beautiful Monastery at the end of the trail. I was fascinated by a Japanese lady who carried a large walking stick. She started up the trail and I silently wished her success in her quest for the top of the trail.
After about an hour, you arrive at a meadow where a trail leads off toward a restaurant and It is here one can stop and rest with a cold drink and a snack if one chooses. But be warned that the next two hours will find really difficult sections and a full stomach doesn’t really help much with this part of the climb.
You are treated to a spectacular view from this spot, seeing the temple perched precariously on the cliffs and it becomes a place where one might just pull out a camera for a stunning view of the Taktsang Monastery complex.
As you progress up the mountain the oak and rhododendrons thin out and are replaced with stark trees and branches. From these spectral branches Spanish moss moves in the breeze and an eerie feeling pervades one’s mind as you move along toward the top.
You move now past a meditation cave with tsa tsa, small conical offerings, scattered across the cave floor. You are now nearing the top. As you descend down a 400 step descent which leads to a bridge over a deep gorge. Tucked away, inside this gorge is the Singyephu, a smaller gompa used for retreats. Before Guru Padmasambhava arrived in the 9th century, Singye Samdrup resided here, and it is his consorts shrine that is visible as you enter the Taktsang’s courtyard.
She is said to have thrown her rosary against the rock and a spring appeared. You can take bottles of this water with you if you carry an empty container.
The last 300 steps are the most difficult as you will be tired and many will have sore muscles in their legs wonderful addition to your trip’s stories to recall the climb to the “Eagles Nest.” by now. However, the interior of the temple is well worth the climb and it will be a wonderful talking point in remembering your trip.