Tiger’s Nest Monastery – Buthan
Built in 1692, this monastery is one of the most holy religious spots of Bhutan. The word ‘Taktshang’ translates to “Tigers Nest” and there is a curious legend behind how and why this series of thirteen hanging monasteries got such an interesting name.
The legend behind the construction of the Taktshang Monastery dates back to the 8th century and relates to the real historical figure of Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava. He is revered as the second Buddha because of his major contribution in the spread of Buddhism from Tibet to Bhutan. Bequeathed with miraculous powers in the eyes of common devotees, Guru Rinpoche is said to have traveled from place to place in the company of tantric and dakini consorts, vanquishing demons.
Yeshe Tsogyal the former wife of an Emperor joined his group and willingly became a flying tigress to bear the guru to the cliff top of Bhutan where the Taktshang Monastery presently stands. One of the caves became the meditation spot for Guru Rinpoche who came out with his eight manifestations and later it was venerated as the holy spot for the monastery that thus derived its strange name.
The original construction of the Tigers Nest Monastery has an equally interesting tale behind it. It is said that notwithstanding the sheer cliff face where Guru Rinpoche decided to land, the air-borne dakinis bore building material on their backs to facilitate the construction process. It remained a place of worship for the people and stood sturdily through the fire damages of April 19, 1998. The Bhutan government took extensive steps to restore it in its original glory by referring back to ancient pictures and other testimonials. It took years of toil and perseverance until the renovation was completed in 2005.
Today you can visit all the temples of the Taktshang Monastery standing at an altitude of 10,200 feet. However, prior to the ascending the slope on mule-back or foot, as a non-Bhutanese you require a special permit and a guide for the venture.
What is remarkable about the Tigers Nest Monastery is the variation of the four temples that appear different from one another. One of these is fabled to be the famous spot for the three-month meditation of Guru Rinpoche and the birthplace of one of the leading lamas.