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Tiger's Nest Monestary

This religious fortress is vigilantly perched on a mystic mountainside

The Tiger’s Nest’s actual name is Paro Taktsang. If you have ever picked up a Bhutanese tourism brochure or looked at a guidebook, you’ll have seen it: it’s the single most distinctive building in Bhutan, the country’s answer to the Taj Mahal or Eiffel Tower.

The Tiger’s Nest temple complex dates from 1692, though it had been a sacred place for almost a thousand years before that. Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated in these caves for three years, three months, three weeks, and three days, and as he is the tutelary deity of Bhutan, it’s a site of unparalleled religious importance. Tourists do visit, of course, but the majority of those who come are Bhutanese on pilgrimage to pay their respects.
 
There’s no better time to visit the Tiger’s Nest than during its tsechu, which takes place annually in March or April. The dzong’s courtyard comes alive with the crowds of devoted villagers who watch, hypnotised as the masked monks perform ritual dances to drive away evil.