The Tiger Temple is a remote Buddhist temple in Thailand near the Myanmar border. It was founded in 1994 as a forest temple and sanctuary for wild animals. Most of the animals residing there are tigers, many rescued from poachers or orphaned due to illegal poaching activities.
The tigers are handled by Thai monks, international volunteers and the local Thai staff. Once a day, they are walked on leashes to a nearby quarry. Originally they would roam around freely, but nowadays with the increase in visitors and the number of tigers, they are chained for safety. The staff closely guide visitors as they greet, sit with, and pet the cats. They keep the tigers under control and the abbot will intervene if a tiger becomes agitated. The temple started off with a single rescued cub in 1994 and currently has 102 tigers that have a fighting chance of survival under the protective guidance of the monks.
Most of these tigers are Indochinese Tigers except 'Mek' who is the only rescued Bengal Tiger at the monastery. The image depicted shows the outline of 'Mek' who I managed to spot being taken for a stroll away from visitors with the Abbot who found him as a cub. To me, it symbolizes the perfect harmony between man and animal and the fight for the survival of the Tiger species by increasing its dwindling numbers.
The Tiger Temple is a haven for tiger lovers to get close to these wild majestic animals and fall in love with them all over again. Nothing soothes ones soul like the purring of 220 pounds of muscle at the palm of your outstretched hand – touching the mesmerizing stripes knowing the unknown can befall you if you are careless.
This was quite the experience for me as a nature enthusiast – gradually growing from seeing tigers in captivity when young, to in the wild in India, to the final frontier of the real mc'coy in Thailand at close quarters. A must visit for every tiger lover.