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Photographer's Note

Taktshang Goemba, or 'Tiger's Nest Monastery', is one of the most impressive examples of religious architecture in Bhutan, mainly because of its spectacular location on a ledge of a cliff 900m above the floor of the Paro valley. It is believed that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) travelled to this place in the last of eight forms, "Dorje Drolo" on the back of a flying tigress. After his arrival he meditated in a cave. This actual cave is the most sacred place of Taktshang around which the lakhangs or temple buildings are arranged.

The Tibetan poet-saint Milarepa (1040 -1123) visited the place and composed one of his songs after having spent three months in meditation in this cave. The monastery was built in this sacred place in 1692 by Paro Penlop. Legend has it that there was not enough support during the construction of the foundation, until some fairies came cutting their longhair to serve as a support for the building.

In 1950 a fire destroyed six surrounding temples that were repaired in 1957. In 1999, another fire destroyed the entire monastery except for the statue in the main chalet. Speculation is that the fire was caused either by lightening or an overturned butter lamp. Old photographs and diaries were used to make the reconstruction as close to the original as possible, though there was little documentation of the wall paintings and other artwork housed inside. Reconstruction work has been going on and was almost completed at the time this picture was taken in 2004 as you can see better on a "close-up" posted in a workshop.

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Additional Photos by JM Hullot (vincz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2604 W: 77 N: 5252] (19113)
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