Nov 30, 2010

Tiger's Nest - Bhutan Diaries (Part 4 of 4)

Any narrative on Bhutan is incomplete without a reference to the Taktsang Monastery or Tiger's Nest. As I sit here writing the concluding words on my few days in Bhutan, its perhaps with Taktsang that i'd like to associate the spirituality of the land.

While serenity pervades Bhutan in the most mundane of places, Taktsang was indeed a revelation in the quiet. But first a bit of its history. Legend has it that Taktsang or literally "Tiger's Lair" is the location where Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche) flew on the back of a tigress to subdue a demon. He later meditated at the caves where in 1692 Tenzing Rabgye built the monastery. The monastery hangs on a precipitous cliff at an altitude of 10,240 ft (3120 m) and can be approached through a 2 hour (approx) hike through the blue pine forests dotted with a few lakhangs (temples).

Taktsang seems perched on a near vertical rock face and the first glimpses of it are awe inspiring. It almost seems like it has grown out of the rock surface. In 1998 a fire broke out and destroyed the main building of the monastery complex which was restored at a cost of Nu 135 Million. It makes one wonder at the methodologies employed to have this constructed 4 centuries back.

The trek is pleasant and the views its offers are every photographer's dream. It is cool at that altitude and I bask in the sun taking in the stark beauty of the place. The blue pines, the dirt track, the waterfall near the monastery, the cave like sanctums and the room filled with a sea of butter-lamps, all aglow giving the monk who's lighting them a very ethereal presence. Its a place where the quiet pervades your soul and forces every thought to stop rushing about.

I pause and cease to think and for a while let myself be...