Tried hugging the really big cat?

Tried hugging the really big cat?

Tried hugging the really big cat?

Have you ever dreamt of being up close and personal with a tiger ? Have you ever harboured dreams of touching, feeding or even playing with a tiger ?

Well , Wat Pa Luanga Bua Yannasampanno Forest Monastery or simply The Tiger Temple is the place for you .

The Tiger Temple was founded by the Abbot-Phra Acharn Phusit(Chan) Kanthitharo
in 1994 in the Thai town of Kanchanaburi. In 1999, the locals brought a tiger cub to the monastery and since then, the number of tigers in the monastry has been growing.

There are totally 17 tigers  in the monastery. Deer, boar and buffaloes also roam freely in here.The monks look upon the tigers as their children and the tigers themselves being in contact with humans on a daily basis, are calm in the presence of humans.

On a recent visit to Thailand,when I was told that I'd be able to go to the tiger temple, I was ecstatic.That's probably an understatement.To say that I was a walking, talking pogo stick would probably be more appropriate. I’d heard about the Tiger Temple and had watched a special program on Discovery about it, but I never thought that I'd ACTUALLY be able to visit the sanctuary.

After visiting the town of Kanchanaburi,we were exhausted but that didn't dampen our excitement. As we waited tocollect our tickets at the ticket counter ,I noticed souvenir T-Shirts and mugs with pictures of tigers from the Sanctuary on them .The Tiger Temple also has its own Radio Station which spreads  Dhamma by broadcasting sermons .

As you enter the compound, you notice a number of boars running around. I wondered why they were let loose in a place where tigers were also free.

After walking for around seven minutes,we saw the tigers and around forty people surrounding them. I immediately wanted to touch the tigers but we had to stand in the queue for sometime before actually touching the big cats.We were awed by the beauty and splendor of the tigers and wondered how heartless poachers were able to kill creatures as magnificent as these. As I stroked the striped golden fur of the tigers, I noticed that they were calm and even seemed to like being stroked by humans. There are many volunteers who take pictures of you as you pet and pose with the tigers. So far,we had only seen adult tigers, so after a long posing session with the adults,we walked towards the tiger cub enclosure .We saw many tiny tiger cubs rolling in the dirt or playing with each other.

We were surprised at their likeness to kittens and then, not for the first time since we entered the temple, we realised that tigers are just big, furry cats .We played with tiger cubs like we would play with kittens.We also noticed a deer nearby and marveled that it was so calm even in the presence of tigers.

A volunteer explained to us that since the tigers are fed only dry cat food and fish,they do not associate blood with food.We petted the deer and it cheerfully posed for many pictures unlike the deer we see in forests and sanctuaries which are not very camera - friendly. Many peacocks were strutting around, showing off their beautiful blue and green plumage.After spending nearly two hours at the tiger temple we decided to leave.

Our minds were filled with wonderful thoughts and memories and I knew that I'd never be able to forget my experience at the tiger temple .

Pics and text: Malvika

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