A hike to the Taktsang monastery – a wonder of the world

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A hike to the Taktsang monastery – a wonder of the world

You will find some wonders in the world, wonders those will keep you wondering not only for days or years but for your entire life. Wonders like the Pyramid of Giza or The Tajmahal. However, I believe, not many people know about the wonder of the world I am going to tell you about.

Taktsang Goemba is a monastery. So, what’s so special about a ‘monastery’? You will be able to understand as soon as you will visit it or at least when you will see it in a photo. When, I saw it for the first time in photo, I told myself “How could someone build it there?” – this didn’t change when I visit there in person.

Taktsang Goemba is placed above 900 meters of Paro valley, in a cliff which is not easy to reach via foot. It is believed that, Guru Rinpoche, an 8th-century Indian Buddhist master, flew here on the back of a tigress and built this monastery.

It is about, 6 Kilometres from Paro, the city where the airport is. We started our hiking in the early morning. Our driver, Rinzin dropped us to the base of the hiking spot. And, our journey started.

It was a muddy road going up in a spiral, one side of most of the trail was open giving you an option to see the lush Paro valley.

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Horses are available to aid you for the ascent, a people will assist you in the road. However, it will not take you to the top, it can go up to a certain place. After that, you have to to walk on foot. If you want to ride on one of those, you should inform your guide beforehand. To me, it was more frightening to ride on the back of a horse (intact, it is safe, it’s just my imagination), what if the horse finds it’s love somewhere out of the trail keeping me on it’s back?

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As you will start going up, you will be rewarded with the nature. With green pine trees all around you. Besides, at some certain angles, you will be able to see the Taktsang as a minuscule object, like a dot in the horizon.

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After more than half way of the hike, you will find a place to sit and see prayer wheels. You might want to spend some time playing with the wheels and wish to go to the top – you must feel the tiredness by now. If you want some refreshment, you will find a restaurant which went into a different direction.

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It was a sunny day in December. There was chillness in the air. I was taking a lot of break, more than necessary, to bask in the sun, to appreciate the surroundings. The gorgeous blue sky gave a perfect backdrop amidst of green. And, oh, how could I forget the excitement of waking among those colourful prayer flags!

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Unlike most of the paths, the last leg of the journey is paved with railing. You have to go up, then, go down and go up again. Don’t worry! By this time, the monastery is entirely visible, sitting gorgeously in the cliff. You will not be able to place your eyes anywhere else, you will not feel that, you are climbing, you will not feel the ache in your knee of airlessness in your lungs. You will feel like taking a thousand of pictures or enjoy the moments placing you in any of the secret places beside the road.

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There was a flow of water from the up making it like a small waterfall. The water got frozen in the winter of December. I went there and tried to touch it. The atmosphere was magical.

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The monastery looks different from different angles. There is a the big structure accompanied by some smaller structures nearby. After going through some formalities, I entered inside of the goemba. Unfortunately, camera was not allowed inside, I spent about 30 minutes inside to see different rooms and a choose a particular window for overseeing outside.

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The descent was comparatively easier, but, you have to be very careful as most of the accidents in a hike take place during descent. During the time of going down, I keep looking in the back to see it again as it was becoming smaller as the time went by. However, it could not resist me to look in to it for the 99th time of the day!

Some quick facts and tips for the tour:

  • There is no entrance fee to visit there.
  • It is in Paro (or just out from Paro)
  • It takes about one and half to four hours to do the hiking.
  • Take a good pair of broken shoe with a good grip.
  • It is not suggested to do the hiking immediately upon arriving to Bhutan as your body might need to acclimatised with the height.
  • There is no harm of bringing a pole with you, it will help you by giving some support.
  • You should bring plenty of water with you, you will not find any shops except a cafeteria halfway up. However, there are some public taps for refilling your water bottle, you just need to keep an eye for it.
  • If you are not from the region and not used to the sun, you should bring some sunscreen lotion to protect your skin 🙂
  • The monastery is closed from 1:00 to 2:00 PM, so, if you want to enter into it, you should plan accordingly.
  • There are horses for rent to carry you up for a certain distance(not up to the monastery) during the ascent, there is no horse for the descent.
  • You cannot take your belongings including camera inside the monastery.
  • You need to enter your passport details in a book before entering into the monastery.
  • In 1998 the main structure got destroyed in a fire and reconstructed again.
  • You will find many shortcuts to reach on the top, it will save your time, but the shortcuts are more challenging and demanding on your body.
  • Just before the monastery, there is a place where teas and rice puffs are served for free (so nice of them!).
  • How difficult is it? It’s not a walk in the park, but not difficult either! I saw young and old hiked together till the end – the excitement to see this would give you the necessary hormone to overcome any shortcomings you have, just do it, it’s one of a lifetime event!

 

 

 

 

 

Fuad Omar

Fuad Omar

Thimphu in photos

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