Taktshang (Tiger Nest) Monastery

Taktshang (Tiger Nest) Monastery

In the 8th century Guru Rinpoche, considered as the second Buddha had blessed and concealed many sacred sites in Bhutan among which is the Taktshang Pelphug in Paro. He came to Taktshang Pelphug, transformed as Guru Dorji Droloe in order to subdue the malignant spirits there. Tashi Kheudron from Mon also transformed herself into a tigress as a mount for the Guru Dorji Droloe; together they subdued all the evil spirits including the eight classes of malevolent spirits and thereby bounding them with oath as protectors of dharma. He then concealed at the site, many religious treasures including the teachings on three yogas. At that place, Guru Rinpoche conferred initiation on Amityus and Vajrakilya to Khandro Yehey Tshogyal and Tashi Kheudron; and they meditated on these two deities for 4 months at Taktshang Pelphug during which a black ritual dagger (Sanskrit: kilya) flew into the cave after it had subdued all the eight classes of gods and demons in the border regions including Nepal; the ritual dagger is still there at Pelphug lhakhang. Having fully realized in these two practices, Khandro Yeshey Tshogyal and Tashi Kheudron have had demonstrated numerous miracles, evidences can be seen now as well. Guru Rinpoche then performed Tshogbum and Tashi Rabney and returned to Yonphu Taktshang in Tibet.

After his departure, his spiritual son named Langchen Pelgye Singye came to this cave and meditated there before returning to Nepal where he passed away in meditation. His body was brought to Taktshang and had built a stupa on top of it; the stupa was empty without any inner relics installed because it is said that during the auspicious day the body would moved up to the empty recess. This stupa is so sacred and it is believed that any wish that people makes near it on the auspicious days can never remain unfulfilled. After Langchen Pelgye Singye, Jetsun Melarap (1040-1123) also came to this place and meditated there for three years followed by Lam Phajo Drugom Zhigpo (1184-1251), who also came there in 1219 and meditated there for 6 years during which Guru Rinpoche came into his vision and proffered to him all the sacred sites he created. Guru had even uttered a prophecy that this sacred site had to be promoted and ultimately one would come to take over it.

On the fire dog year, Zhabdrung (age 43 years) and Lopen Rigzin Nyingpo were performing a Drupchen at Rinpung dzong; and that night Zhabdrung dreamt of a man in black coming up to him to offer Taktshang. Next morning he told his assembled officials that a man would come to meet him and instructed them not to hold him back. Singye Samdrup, the guardian deity of the Taktshang, disguised as a poor man came up to the gate and pleaded that he wanted to meet Zhabdrung. He was ushered into the chamber of Zhabdrung and when Zhabdrung inquired about his reason for coming, he told that he had come to offer Taktshang to Zhabdrung. Zhabdrung gave him a white scarf with the instruction to mount the scarf on top of the cliff and to cry thrice -from now on I, Choeje Drukpa Ngawang Namgyel will own it. The man did as had been instructed and this indicated Zhabdrung’s takeover of Taktshang. In 1646, Zhabdrung and Lopen Rigzin Nyingpo went to Taktshang; and Lopen Rigzin Nyingpo gave teaching on Gongdue. On that day many auspicious signs were displayed that Zhabdrung thought to himself, ‘I must build a temple here’, however, as already preoccupied with many responsibilities he instructed his spiritual son, Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye (1638-1696) to build a temple there. Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye relayed the instruction to Penlop Drakpa Jamtsho, a governor of Paro. In 1692, when trying to lay the founding stones on the ledge of the cliff, they kept on slipping off due to the sheer slope of the cliff so Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye mixed hair cut from his head with the mud as mortar for the founding stones. Then the remaining work went on smoothly and the construction of the temple was completed in 1694, including installation of statues and other related objects.          

The main image of the temple is the statue of Guru Rinpoche in bronze. Penlop Drakpa Jamtsho invited Pentsa, one of the renowned craftsmen in Nepal at that time. He made the statue of Guru Rinpoche at Punakha dzong. While transporting the statue to Taktshang Pelphu; and upon reaching the place called Demig gocha (on the way down towards Taktshang) porters could not go further down because the path was  precariously narrow and steep that only one man could pass through. They spent their night there and the next early morning they decided to tear the statue in smaller parts in order to make it easier for them to carry. On that moment the statue is said to have spoken to them, ‘Do not tear me apart, a man will come to carry me’. The local deity of the area, Taktshang Singye Samdrup transformed himself into a human form and transported the statue to Taktshang Pelphu temple, carrying it on his back. The statue is said to have spoken in 1951 as well. Although the Taktshang was once burned down in 1998 it was successfully rebuilt and the following are the temples we can visit now:

1. Guru Druphu

2. Guru Sungjoenmai Lhakhang

3. Kuenra Lhakhang

4. Choeten Lhakhang

5. Guru Tshengyed Lhakhang

6. Droloe Lhakhang

7. Namsey Lhakhang

8. Tshepamed Lhakhang

9. Neypoi Lhakhang


Taktshang Monastery is located under Tsento Gewog. One can hike up to the Monastery on foot or ride a horse up.