Northwest of Paro, perched more than 3,000 feet above the Paro-chu River, is the Buddhist hermitage of Taktsang. Legend holds that the great 8th century Buddhist teacher, Padmasambhava, traveled throughout the Himalayas on the back of a flying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan and other areas in the region. He alighted at the site that is now Taktsang, which means "Tiger Lair." Since that time, many notable spiritual masters have come here to meditate.
Although the hermitage appears inaccessible, one can actually reach it after a long and steep hike up the mountainside. It was a beautiful hike, punctuated with a welcome rest at a teahouse set high in the mountains across a valley from Taktsang. For those who would prefer to save their energy and ride as far as the teahouse, horses were available for rent in the valley below.
Sadly, the Taktsang Hermitage that I saw and is pictured here burned down in 1998 (a year after my visit). An international effort to restore the hermitage was mounted. By mid 2002 reconstruction was almost complete. A special thanks to William L. Devanney, who visited Bhutan in April 2002 and sent me a photograph of the restoration, which is used here with his kind permission.
For those interested in seeing only the hermitage itself (without the hike to get there), click on the slide show below.