My dream has always been to travel to Bhutan. For some reason Bhutan has held a special place in my heart. I recently had the opportunity to travel to Bhutan with Abercrombie & Kent and all that I imagined came to reality and more.
This Buddhist kingdom in the eastern Himalayas is a jewel! With untouched mountain peaks, rivers fed from glacier water and stunning valleys it is beyond pristine.
Bhutan is a symbol of all things that are positive and fruitful to inner peace & happiness. A country where the GNP is measured by happiness.
I have read and always been interested in the Tigers Nest Monastery, this beautiful edifice sitting on a side of a cliff over 10,000 feet in the sky. Legend had it that Padma Sambhava flew here from Tibet on a the back of a tiger.
I decided that since if was in Bhutan I had to attempt the hike to the Tigers Nest Monastery. I was prepared mentally but what I encountered physically was beyond what I expected.
Our group led by experienced guides gave us an overview of the vertical ascent in three parts. The first being the climb to the cafeteria where we were able to reset for a short period drink some tea and catch our breath. Then came the second ascent to the viewing across from the Tigers Nest. The third part was the 800 stairs to get to the actual monastery.
The stairs consist of several hundred stairs down and several hundred up. Before the second set of steps you encounter a massive waterfall that splatters cold mist as we prepared ready to climb the second set of stairs to the monastery.
I become very emotional, taking in all the beauty at over 10,000 feet in the sky with the waterfall to one side and Tigers Nest Monastery within view. I was astonished that I had made it so far as the vertical climb was a challenge but well worth it.
Once at the monastery, the view across the Paro Valley was astonishing. We visited various Buddhist temples and enjoyed some well deserved rest.
We started our climb back down, being mindful of every step as it was quite arduous with rocks and a steep incline.
The total distance was over 7.8 miles with 800 steps. It will be an event that I will never forget as not only was it physical and mentally challenging but the Tigers Nest is more mesmerizing in person than in pictures. There is a spirituality that takes one over as one gets closer that allows one is to finish the climb.
I am so happy that I withstood the pain that so many pilgrims have made to see this wonder!