Best things to do in Paro and sightseeing in Paro
Tiger's Nest - Paro
Taktshang Goemba or the Tiger's Nest The Taktshang Goemba (which translates as Tiger's Nest Monastery) is the most famous of Bhutan's monasteries. The most amazing think about this Monastery is, it is miraculously perched on the side of a sheer cliff 900m above the floor of Paro valley. When you will visit it, in the depth of the silence of the valley, only sounds are the murmurs of wind and water and the creaking of the prayer wheels. According to the local folklore, it is said that Guru Rinpoche flew to the site of the monastery on the back of a tigress (a manifestation of his consort Yeshe Tsogyal) to subdue the local demon, Singey Samdrup and therefore its called Tiger's Nest. Neither we are guru, nor we know how to fly the tiger ! So to visit this beautiful mystical corner of the world, one has to Trek for 2 Hours from the parking space. The bottom from this Paro Valley is 700 meters (2,300 feet) which is a straight steep gorge from Paro Taktsang Monastery. There is a cafe located enroute the monastery. One can easily take a break and recharge oneself here with some refreshments before plunging henceforth. Try local food and please keep the trek plastic free!
The heavenly experience of making it to the top of this cliff, and seeing this marvel that man has attained was one dream realized.
According to the legend related to this Taktsang, which literally means "Tiger's lair", it is believed that Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress from Khenpajong. This place was consecrated to tame the Tiger demon.
Taktsang Trail - Paro
It is one trek that everyone should experience once in lifetime. It is about 5miles long trail and people generally take around 3hrs to reach this amazing monastery on the cliff. Its unbelievable as to how they could achieve something like that. So there are three points of this trek. First you will reach Taksang Cafeteria, So get good view of Taksang monastery from here. Second you will reach that photo point with a slab just before stairs begin. Here is a lovely Tea place with butter lamp offerings. As I reached there a monk gave me milk, tea bag and hot water. DIY tea. :D He did not ask for money though we did donate some. Getting Tea then was magical. How much I miss how happy I felt that moment. Third point is reaching monastery, I suggest do take series of complicated stairs to real Tiger's Nest. Seeing it was like justification of coming to Bhutan. Unearthly Beauty. After descent I went off to Thimpu city.
Paro Dzongkhag - Paro
Opening hours 9am-5pm It is said that, no trip to Bhutan is complete without visiting Bhutan's most impressive and well-known dzong-Paro Dzongkhag. At this place you may perhaps find the finest example of Bhutanese architecture. The massive buttressed walls that tower over the town are visible throughout the valley. Overall its a well preserved fortress & friendly place of interest. One can have a aerial view of Paro with beautiful valley & terraced farmland. An interesting side note: scenes from Bernardo Bertolucci's 1995 film Little Buddha were filmed here.
Paro Taktsang - Paro
I was surprised as this was something opposite to what I had imagined it to be, Paro was a small calm and empty looking beautiful village.
Trekking to Taktsang is an experience of a lifetime and all of us in the group vowed to be back again someday. It is believed that this sacred monastery was founded by Guru Rimpoche who flew on the back of a flaming tiger in the 8th century and meditated in a cave for three months at this site. Located at 2,950 metres above sea level, this is the most famous and the only hanging cliff monastery in Bhutan. The hike itself is at once challenging and fulfilling. We walk for almost 4 hours to be confronted by 1000 more steps that would give any sane person a vertigo. But the adrenaline is so much that you cannot help but continue. The monastery stands gleaming in its white exterior with red adornments and a gold cupola roof, looking strikingly spiritual.
Taktsang Lhakhang - Paro
This is like the most identified image of Bhutan. Its the tiger nest monastery perched on top of a cliff, takes a 30 minute ride from Paro town and after that a rough 2 hour steep hike. Its worth every single sore muscle.
Taktsang Palphug - Paro
Tiger Nest Monastery or the Taktsang Monastery as it is locally called was the main destination of our whole trip. A successful rendezvous of the world renowned monastery among the misty mountains would have kind off decided the success or failure of our whole journey. Bhutan did not disappoint us. We started early to reach the point from Paro where we had to leave our car and start a 2 hour journey on foot. From there, started our trek through some amazing views of the surrounding low lying areas, lovely wood, lots of travelers. We could see the monastery multiple times from below while we were climbing up- clinged to the mountain, between the mists, high up as if it was some mysterious destination we have been travelling to reach for ever.
Taktshang Monastery a.ka. Tiger’s Nest Monastery, is undoubtedly Bhutan’s most famous monastery. Aberrantly hanged on the edge of a 1000m cliff in the Paro Valley, it makes an impressive sight. The temple was built in 1692, around the cave where Guru Rinpoche said to have meditated for three years in the 8th century.
Tiger's Lair Temple - Paro
My final stop was the one structure that is synonymous with Bhutan, The Tiger's Nest or Taktsang Monastery. Located at 12000 feet, a climb which takes you on a spiritual trail with amazing views and a sense of greatness. What kept me going despite an injured knee was the fact that the monastery was a training spot for Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. My journey was complete with strong winds and a slight drizzle of snow, to give me a perspective of life like never before. A must visit. The first proper view of the monastery from the opposite edge of the cliff equals the first glimpse I had of Petra in Jordan. I still wonder why this is not considered a wonder.
Day 10 After an early breakfast, we drove to the base of the mountain where we began our hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The monastery is the most iconic site in Bhutan, impressively perched near the top of the mountain, the site where Guru Rimpoche arrived atop a flying tigress in 743 C.E. and meditated in a cave for 3 months. Ever since the site has been sacred and the monastery a site all Bhutanese endeavor to visit. We joined many Bhutanese on the trail as they make their pilgrimages to this sacred and lovely site.
Chele La - Paro
Its a one and a half hour drive to the chele la pass from paro town . The drive is really scenic and quite steep compared to other drives in bhutan because u are climbing from 7000 feet to 12500 feet in just 90 minutes. The day we had planned to go to the pass , it was really cloudy with no sunlight whatsoever. Our driver suggested to go the next day as it might rain again and the visibility will be very low so we wont be able to see the valley from the top. Anyway , i stuck to the plan and we were off by 10 . though we did not encounter rain but the sky was overcast all along the way , which by the way gave it a very romantic feeling of travelling in rain drenched mountain forests with wisps of clouds of floating by and tall trees zipping by on either side. finally when we arrived, there was not a soul in sight. May be, most of the tourists had rearranged their schedule. Anyway there was a pathway with abyss on one side and rocky surface on the other. As i walked along the path , i had to be extra careful of the abyss since the visibility was really low. The valley below was not visible at all due to heavy cloud covering and as the clouds floated across me, i felt as if i am am being sprayed with tiny droplets of ice cold water. My hands were trembling due to the cold and every now and then , i had to feel the warmth of my jacket pockets. On top of that, since the pathway was pretty narrow, i was tantalising close to falling in the valley below. Infact, it was one of the best experience of the trip because when u are in such situations all alone, u grow as a person.
Paro Rinphung Dzong - Paro
The Grand, Rinchen Pung Dzong is one of Bhutan’s most impressive monastery and perhaps the finest example of Bhutanese architecture. The present dzong was built in 1644 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal after he dismantled the then existing Dzong built by Drung Gyal in 15th century, which was known as Hungrel Dzong.
Rinpung Dzong - Paro
Kichu Lhakhang - Paro
Zhiwa Ling Hotel - Paro
Taktsang trail - Paro
The hotel was cheap, decent (ish) and served by a restaurant downstairs. We got a ride to Taktsang the next day. At the base of the hill were the obligatory souvenir stalls selling prayer beads, flags and other knick knacks. Piles of pony dung peppered the rocky ground and the pungent smell of the animals and their faeces hung in the air. A 40-something European gentleman and his wife were selecting rides. We were young and full of vigour; surely we weren’t going to take the ponies to the half-way mark. Five minutes into the walk and I thought, ‘hell, this is easy’. Then came the uphill climb. While it was nippy getting there, I ought to have been smart enough not to wear my sweater. After all, exercise does make you work up a sweat. I bore it out. The path was probably hewn into the rock over the ages. Taktsang or ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Monastery was built in the 1694, but held sacred for centuries earlier. Legend has it that the revered Guru Rinpoche flew to this location on the back of a tigress to meditate sometime in the 8th century. Seated precariously, on the edge of the cliff-face, the monastery with its four main buildings, chortens and caves, was rebuilt after a fire in 1958. Taktsang through the trees We plodded on. Up ahead, the European gentleman was not on his pony anymore, but instead behind it, urging it forward. On and off he would climb onto its back, helped by the guide, but the pony seemed to want the day off. Between the trees on certain turns of the path, glimpses of Taktsang peek at you. It’s a good way to motivate you on, particularly if you start having second thoughts about the walk. Soon, we were at the little restaurant where you can tank up with water and a bite. The next point at which you can get the strange tasting butter tea the Bhutanese love is at a little kiosk run by a toothy, smiling old lady along the steps to Taktsang (It’s free and served out of a mug). The road gets nastier here. I realised how much more fit I needed to be (or turn miraculously into Heidi of the hills) as elderly Germans passed us with their hiking sticks, a senior Japanese lady bent forward to tie her shoelaces and continued on, and Bhutanese pilgrims raced by with barely a heavy breath. We strung up our prayer flags, took a few mandatory pictures and began climbing down the stairs. Already I was dreading the walk back. Stairs have never been my best friend. But the view from Taktsang is worth every uphill climb, every second thought, every penny spent getting to Bhutan. Chilly wind from the valley whips at your face, threatening to tear off your nose. The wood panelled rooms are comparatively warmer, and because you were on too tight a budget to afford a guide, you sidle up to the ones speaking English and catch snippets of their stories. As usual, I got lost, roaming room to room for at least half an hour before I was heated up enough to grunt ‘where the hell were you?’ when I finally found my travel buddy at the ‘Personal Belongings’ desk. We chatted with the sentries, who like most Bhutanese were dressed in traditional ‘gho’s. We trudged back up the stairs, stopping to take pictures by the waterfall as a web of colourful prayer flags fluttered maddeningly in the wind. I couldn’t help but wonder how they tied them across cliff faces like that. The Dzhong we saw the previous day had nothing on Taktsang. Sure it was beautiful in its own right, majestic and royal with its pretty wooden bridge across the pebbled river and gilded tops. Truth be told, visiting Bhutan had always been a wish, but it was Taktsang that actually yanked me there.
Phajodhing - Paro
Getting to Phajoding Monastery, located at a height 3500 meters, is one of the best day hikes you can undertake while in Thimphu. The monastery serves as a school and orphanage for young Buddhist monks. I was lucky enough to climb the harsh, muddy and narrow trail leading up to the monastery in the clouds. Truly worth a climb as I had an interesting conversation about life, Buddhist principles and gifted my copy of Mahatma Gandhi's Book "My Experiments With truth" to Lama Namgay Tenzin.
Kichu Monastry - Paro
Drukyel Dzong - Paro
Hotels in Paro
People who've been to Paro
Shilpi A Bhabhra