Clinging to a rocky cliff-face, high in the mountains above Paro, sits Bhutan’s famous Tiger’s Nest (Paro Taktsang). The small Buddhist monastery – with its gold-plated domes, white walls and wooden balconies – is only accessible by foot (or horse) via a series of winding mountain paths and rocky steps through dense pine forest. Every Bhutanese person is expected to make the pilgrimage at least once, for guaranteed luck and prosperity.
Bhutanese person is expected to make the pilgrimage at least once, for guaranteed luck and prosperity.
Paro Taktsang is part of 13 ‘tigers lair’ caves; Guru Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche), who is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan, is said to have landed at the cave after flying from Tibet on the back of a soaring tigress. Upon arrival, he meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours.
A monastery was built on the site in 1692, and has been rebuilt and reconstructed several times in the years since. In 1998, the main building in the complex was completely destroyed by fire, however the Bhutanese believe that buildings are temporary and are meant to be renewed; the ideas and philosophies they represent can never be destroyed.
Gross National Happiness Index
Bhutan’s fourth Dragon King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, created the GNH Index in the 1970s, as a way to celebrate spiritual values, rather than economic gains.