Popularly known as the Tiger’s Nest, Paro Taktshang is a revered temple and monastery built in 1692. The sacred structure sits at 3,120m (10,240ft) above sea level, perched on the edge of a cliff in the upper Paro Valley. Shrouded in folklore and myth, the monastery consists of four temples adorned with Buddhas, cotton tapestries and frescos of enlightened beings. The holiest site in Bhutan, this ‘tigers lair’ pays homage to Guru Padmasambhava, the initiator of Buddhism in Bhutan. Legend has it that the Guru flew from Tibet on the back of a mystical tigress and landed on the steep cliff to meditate in a cave. In the late 17th century, the monastery was constructed around the cave by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye, who was universally believed to be the reincarnation of the Guru.
Numerous miracles are associated with the monastery, such as sightings of mysterious flowers that appear in the air, only to disappear before touching the ground. The Guru has also been spotted both inside and outside the cave at the same time. The hike to the temple, and back, takes around five hours and travellers will pass through a dense forest and emerge on the edge of a rocky chasm, where they will need to climb down to a trickling waterfall and then back up the cliff face to the monastery on the other side. Added to its rich history, the monastery boasts magnificent views over green valleys and mountain ranges.