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Kila Nunnery (Kela Dechen Yangtshi) is sometimes called “The Little Tiger’s Nest” of Bhutan because it clings to the cliffside in the same way as the Tiger’s Nest near Paro.
The nunnery has been a Bhuddist meditation site since the 9th century and is possibly the oldest nunnery in Bhutan. Kila Nunnery can be reached on foot and by a dirt road and lies between Paro and the Haa Valley in the west of Bhutan.
Nuns are still in residence today and they pursue higher Buddhist college studies from the buildings along the cliff edge. We were able to go inside Kila Nunnery to meet the nuns, monks and kittens. We are able to share photos from Kila Nunnery with you here.
There is talk of relocating the nunnery as conditions are very harsh here in winter. You need to check this for yourself. It’s very hard to find any information online about Kila Nunnery, The Little Tiger’s Nest.
You can walk to Kila Nunnery from the Cheli La (high pass from the Haa Valey), passing chortens, prayer flags and a pleasant forest.
The nun’s sleeping quarters were private, but we were allowed to see the kitchen and communal rooms. Nuns were busy making tsampa in the kitchens for a communal meal.
This is the place where I took the photo of the monk with this kitten, it’s in our main Bhutan travel post.
Kila or Kela Nunnery
As you can see from this sign, the local name is Kela Nunnery, Kela Dechen Yangtshi, everything I can find online says it’s Kila and our itinerary said likewise. So I don’t know which is correct.
The Cheli La is also spelt Chelela. Spelling seems to vary in English and Bhutanese.
The Walk to Kila Nunnery
The walk or hike to Kila Nunnery wasn’t long, but in parts the terrain was very uneven and we had to do a bit of scrambling. It’s a short hike, a very scenic one, but not suited to people with mobility issues.
We wore hiking boots every day in Bhutan, but you’d be fine in any comfortable walking shoe. None of the hikes we did in Bhutan were very long, even the overnight hike to the Tiger’s Nest camp wasn’t very strenuous. But then, we’d been to Everest Base Camp just a few weeks before. Any hike that’s not at serious altitude feels easy after that.
There is no admission fee or ticket booth, we just arrived at Kila Nunnery with our guide, this is typical of Bhutan, where visitors pay a daily fee rather than having to pay for tickets, food, and hotels separately.