William and Kate trek to remote Bhutanese monastery

British royals Prince William and his wife Kate took a hike Friday through pine forests and across boulders to a Buddhist monastery that clings to a Himalayan cliff high above Bhutan's Paro valley.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan on a tour Wednesday, with Kensington Palace describing the trek as a highlight.

The spectacular Paro Taktsang monastery perches at a height of 3,120 meters above sea level.

It was built around a cave where according to legend Buddhist monk Padmasambhava meditated in the eighth century, introducing the religion to Bhutan.

The monk is said to have reached the cave on the back of a tigress and hence its name Taktsang, literally Tiger's Nest.

The monastery with shining gold roofs and timbered windows was built in 1692.

The British royal couple got bright blue skies and great weather as they began early to make the steep climb uphill, British High Commission officials said.

They paused for photographs at a half-way point with stunning views of the monastery and surrounding mountains where they also spun Buddhist prayer wheels.

At the end of the hike up, the couple were taken by monks through the temples at the monastery, Kensington Palace said.

It was important for the royal couple to learn more about Bhutan's history and religion, while enjoying its scenery, the palace said.

The Paro Taktsang monastery was completely burned down in 1998 and restored by 2005.

The monastery is one of Bhutan's top tourist attractions. One can take a horse up if one does not want to walk but the only way to come down is on foot, according to the Bhutan Tourism Council.

The entire trek up to the monastery and back to the start point took the royal couple about six hours. They did not need to use the horses provided by Bhutan's king.

Kate looked the part, togged out in smart casuals including a waistcoat and a pair of tassled knee-high boots.

In a short video interview posted by journalists accompanying them taken at the end of the hike back down, the couple said they were enjoying the trip but missing their kids.

George and Charlotte have not been accompanying their parents on the week-long tour of Bhutan which ends Saturday with a trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Last update: Fri, 15/04/2016 - 15:55
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