A One Day Trek to Taktsang Monastery in the Happiest Place in the World, Bhutan
by Emi Hailey Hayakawa, BTN, Jan 24, 2013
PARO, BHUTAN -- Bhutan, also known as the land of the Thunder dragon, is a mixture of adventure, religious devotion, and pure serenity offered by the vivid nature that surrounds 74% of the entire Himalayan Kingdom.
Bhutan is the only Kingdom where authentic Mahayana Buddhism is practiced, and believed to be the last Shangri-la on Earth.
It is said that 90% of the entire Bhutan population (approx. 650,000 people) practices Buddhism. The dominant sect that came to be established in the country, which is currently the official religion of Bhutan is the Drukpa Kargyu sect of Mahayana Buddhism.
High up in the valleys of Paro, lays Tiger’s nest monastery, known to the people as Taktsang. This monastery lays 3,120 meters above sea level and is one of the most sacred site here in Bhutan.
Taktsang holds importance in Bhutan as it is known to be the main pilgrimage site of Padmasambhava, otherwise known as Guru Rinpoche, during the 8th century.
According to legend, he flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress and consecrated to tame the Tiger demon. He then meditated at this very site for three months. It is said that the Bhutanese people must come to pilgrimage to Taktsang at least once in their life time.
To reach Taktsang, we must hike, or rather trek for 2-3 hours. There are no helicopters or roads for cars. The hike up the mountain to the Monastery is not for the infirm, disabled, or lazy. It is strenuous, but incredibly rewarding. Fortunately, there is a charming cafeteria with the most amazing view half-way up where one can rest and prepare for the last, most difficult part of the hike.
At the entrance to Taktsang, is a 700 steps stairs that zig zags steeply. There is a giant water fall and in a tiny alter next to the small lake adjacent to the beautiful water fall is a small prayer wheel that turns. With each turn of the wheel, a bell is rung. The Bhutanese people believe that with that chime, blessings ring out into the world, carrying with them peace and harmony to all sentient beings.
Once you are within the walls of Taktsang, there are literally dozens of small temples, alters and caves to explore. Brightly colored wall paintings depict the stories of the Buddhist Sutra that is filled with various Buddhist legends of demons, madmen, and legend heroes.
By spending the day climbing a mountain to reach a remote and sacred site that few has ever traveled to reminds me that in Bhutan, Happiness is tangible and available to you through all your senses. The concept of Gross National Happiness, coined by the 4th King of Bhutan is not only a concept for the Bhutanese people, but is made available to all those who visit Bhutan.
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Bhutan Dzogchen Tours organize and offer trips to Bhutan and can be customized to suit the taste of the visitors. Bhutan Dzogchen Tours’ tour packages includes cultural tours, religious tours, trekking, bird watching and many more ranging from a short duration tours to longest and most anticipated and toughest tours into Bhutan. It’s Bhutan Dzogchen Tours’ premiere service that you will gain satisfaction exploring the corners of the last shangri-la, the exotic Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. With over twenty years of experience in Bhutanese tourism and hospitality, Bhutan Dzogchen Tours ensure guest safety at highest standards and quality is their priority.