Sunday, October 30, 2011

Guru Rinpoche and His Tigress

This morning, I woke up bright and early and somnolently packed up my bags.  Today we were driving back to Paro.  The drive took four hours and was extremely tiring and I was thankful to be finally arriving back in Paro!  We planned to eat lunch and then hike up to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery built into the cliff overlooking town.  I ate a quick lunch and hopped back on the minivan with my parents.  We drove to a parking lot where we hiked up to the monastery said to be blessed by the Guru Rinpoche.  It is said that he rode to Paro on a tigress and established this spiritual place among the cliffs. 

The story states that the Rinpoche saw the face of the holy Buddhist Protector imprinted in the cliff.  He then found a cave high on the cliff and used it as his mediation center in the eighth century.  Many years later, in the 17th century, the ruler of Paro valley built the monastery around the cave up on the cliff.  Today, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, hanging above the second biggest city in Bhutan, is one of the greatest architectural feats for the Bhutanese culture.   

We started up the dusty, steep path and found ourselves exhausted at the halfway point.  From there, we walked to the highest point on the hike and proceeded across a gorge to the base of the monastery.  Again, we were not allowed cameras inside the temple.  Okay, I am starting to get a little annoyed at the no camera rule.  I show up all excited to take pictures of the inside of the temple and Karma tells me “no pictures allowed!”  Still, I loved viewing the inside of the monastery. 

Inside, we saw the classic meditative Buddha decorated with bright colors and gold.  Karma, my parents, and I watched from a small alcove as a group of young monks set up, and preformed, a spectacular ceremony.  They chanted and blew on two long ceremonial horns.  A young monk blew on a horn made out of a human thigh bone and two other monks played reed instruments.  Several other young monks banged on drums and cymbals.  The oldest monk moved about at the alter but I could not make out his exact movements.  After watching this amazing scene, we quietly left the alcove and continued our tour.

We walked down to the basement of the monastery, where we entered a room with a doorway into the sacred cave of Guru Rinpoche.  Sadly, the door had a big fat padlock, and Karma said that only once a year was it open to the public.  Having finished our tour of the Tiger’s Nest, we had a blast running down the hill and jumped into the car. 

Tonight is our last night in Bhutan and tomorrow we will fly to India!  There, we will participate in a rickshaw rally from Mumbai to New Delhi.  I have heard from my mom that India is loud, chaotic, dirty, and scary, yet she also tells me that it is her favorite country to visit.  I am thoroughly confused and am a little scared. 

We are not sure what the internet situation will be like in India, so if you do not hear from me, we are still safe and having the adventure of our lives!
Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!    


  1. Sorry you couldn't take pics inside the temple. A religious thing? Kinda like not taking salt from the sacred places in the GC?
    However the pics of the monastery perched on the cliff are quite spectacular. I can imagine the walk up to that place being a bit tiring!

  2. Question: What is written on some of the prayer flags? Do they write personal prayers? Beautiful photos of the prayer flags. They are so colorful!! Hope all goes well in India. I am hanging a prayer flag for you all!! Love, Grandmalish
    P.S. An almost birthday wish for my youngest!!

  3. Rickshaw rally -- excellent!!

    Safe travels and have a great time in India!

  4. I once knew a Scrimshaw Sally. She used to work on whale bones.

    Speaking of bones, does anyone know what a Bhutan comedian uses in his act? An upper arm bone!


  5. Answer: Grandma Lish, written on the prayer flags are the words O Mana Podma Om Shi This does not exactly translate in English but is a prayer bringing happiness to all living things.

    Love, Rohan

  6. What is the one date per year that Guru Rinpoche's cave is open?
    In 2012.