Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Seven days trip to Bhutan - A travelogue part VI

Day 6 – 26th Nov 15 – Tiger Nest Monastery and Paro Sights

Even before we had a glimpse of Tiger Nest (Paro Taktsang) yesterday we had (self and son) made up our mind to do a trek up the mountain to  Tiger nest Monastery. The urge to climb up became acute after viewing it through binocular yesterday.

Glimpse of Tiger Nest, White Spec on the Hill
Others in our group were happy not to try. For both of us the day started at 0600 (early as per traveling standards). After a quick breakfast at 0630 we started for tiger nest base by 0700 and were dropped there by 0725. We started our climb at 0730. During our research it emerged that if the plan is to climb up in about 3 hrs, it is a comfortable trek. We thought we will keep that as a target. We got going. Initially the climb was gradual till we came across a group of three water prayer wheels in very colourful structures being run by water gushing down the tiger nest hill.

Start of the climb

Water wheels

The route after that had increased gradient. Though we kept the target of climb in 3 hrs, soon we got in to the concurring spirit and started climbing full steam. This part of the climb till cafeteria up hill around mid way is not only steep; it also does not have much of plain walk between climbs to recuperate. With in about 30 minutes I started getting the complex of growing old. Well the climbing party was self at 50+ and son at 23 years so complex was not required but frequent need to stop for gathering breath made me feel so. My son very smartly told me on the return leg of our trip that the climbing up was tough for him too but he did not utter a word going up because he was getting to rest complimentary on my account of requirement to rest.

Waiting for the rest time
View of the rolling Hills as we climbed up

Most rest was not more then 2-3 minutes. We reached the café by 0845 hrs. Stopped for about 15+ minutes had a cup  of tea and biscuits at Rs 120 per cup and did not grudge it. Getting tea at that height itself made up for high cost. Another interesting part was biscuits were part of the cost whether you ate them or not. Post the tea and rest, we restarted our climb which continued to be steep but henceforth the steepness was punctured by leveled walks every now and then. At 0930 we reached the point from where the descent of about 450 stairs leading to a bridge across a beautiful waterfall. Here one gets closest view of Tiger nest and get a feeling as if it is just at a arms length.

Still too far

Valley below

The efforts to descent those many stairs gets compensated by the beauty of the waterfall and the chime of the bell of the Prayer water wheel. Again we took a small break of 5 minutes to enjoy the beauty of the fall and the commenced our accent of about 200+ stairs leading to monastery.  We reached the Monastery gate at 0955.

Entrance Door (No more photography beyond)
First thing first, once inside the gate, no photography allowed. No bags can be carried inside the monastery. Everyone is frisked. As for bags, the police on duty give a locker to keep your stuff. We were advice to carry a lock for the locker but everyone was provided a lock by police.

This was clicked before we entered
Even more closer
After this formality we went inside. There were people who had come with guide but we did not take one. The luck was on over side. We met a group of young Bhutanese boys and girls who were moving around and one enthusiastic boy became our unofficial guide and took us on the whole tour of various temples, temples of guru Padmasambhav, his next avatar Guru Rimpoche, the cave where guru Rimpoche said to have landed flying on a tigress from Tibet. It was the kindness of this group that we got a nice tour. Our return trip commenced at 1050 hrs. Climbing up 450 stairs was tough but by now our body was conditioned.

Staircases going up
King of Tiger Nest (or was it Queen?)
Once the climb was over, the move was quick and we reached the start point (and also finish point) by 1235 hrs, As indicated by Strava App on Pranay’s mobile, we took a total time of 5 hrs including 15 minutes at café, 55 minutes at Monastery and various stoppages for photography, catching the breath, etc. Actual walk time going up was 2 hrs 10 minutes and coming down was about 1 hour. At the end Strava indicated that it was --- best time and I was happy with state of my fitness.
Since our driver had not arrived to pick us up (had had taken our balance party to national Museum and Paro Dzong) we could do detailed cooling down which helped us to avoid cramps later.

Down hill with some prayer stones
 The driver picked us up at 1300. We straight went to Kyichu Lhakhang (Temple). A very important place for Bhutan Buddhist. This temple was built in 7 th century by a Tibetan king, this place has seen renovation and expansion. The last one was in 1971 by Queen of Bhutan. It is a beautiful temple from outside and inside. It is believed that orange trees, two of them, in the temple bear fruits through out the year. There is an exclusive area for the Queen inside the temple where none is allowed to go.

Kyichu Temple Courtyard (See the orange Trees)
Decorative Pattern on Windows
Ornamental Butter Lamp
Thereafter our next stop was Pema Gift Shop because my wife had asked him that she wants herself photographed in Bhutanese dress. This place happens to be on the banks of Paro Chu (river) right next to Kyichu resort. They have both men’s dresses (Gho)and Women’s dresses (top called tego and bottom called Kira). They charge RS 100 per dress (Indian and Local currency works at same cost interchangeably) for men and women. The concept is very simple. They will drape the dresses and thereafter it is for you  to take as many photos as you want by mobile, camera and what have you. So we did.
Looks like Just Migrated to Bhutan 
They also have an indoor archery range (archery is the national sports of Bhutan) where one can shoot 15 (+5 for trial) arrows. All these arrows need not be shot by a single person. Whole party can share the arrows. Between all of us we shot 20 arrows and only one (shot by Pranay) hit the bull’s eye. It was fun.

Taking a Shot (could not find target)
Only Shooter to hit the target and the arrow on target
After this trip me and Pranay rushed to National Museum. Originally housed in a circular traditional building, it was shifted next door to a modern building after the original building was damaged in 2011 earthquake. The old building is being repaired. The museum is a treasure of information about Bhutan including its Dances, animals, birds and culture. Photography is not allowed. We were happy to have made it

Entrance to National Museum
View of Paro Valley from Museum

national Library old building
Present location, New building
Our other people in the group who visited the Paro Dzong, which like other Dzongs, also serves as administrative HQ and a Monastery, were very impressed with it. It is a massive structure with courtyards and and beautiful buildings.

Way  to Paro Dzong
Entrance to Paro Dzong
from out side

Panel of Gods
Wall Paintings
Colourful Buildings inside

Massive Courtyard

Another impressive view
National Museum Old Building as seen from Dzong

Post National Museum visit we had lunch in the market. Roamed around there for some time and then returned to hotel to nurse our tired legs and prepare for tomorrow’s departure to Phuntsholing.


  1. हर्षद,
    अप्रतिम प्रवास वर्णन,खूप छान वर्णन करतोस तू ओघवत्या भाषेत .
    ब्लॉग वाचून आपण प्रत्यक्ष पहात आहे अशी अनुभूती होते .
    Keep it on .

    1. Thanks Milind. this coming from an avid traveler is really honour.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks Kuheli, You too write in an impressive way.