(The setting of the Tengboche Monastery is stunningly beautiful)
About 20 years ago I spent a few weeks in Nepal, trekking in the Khumbu. There were several highlights to the journey -- meeting and having dinner with Sir Edmund Hillary, interacting with the charming Sherpa people, and wandering around some of the largest mountains in the world in Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
One of my favorite spots was a visit the Tengboche Monastery. This is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, the largest in eastern Nepal. The monastery sits atop a promontory at 3,867 meters (12,687 ft) altitude. The monastery was built in 1916 but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1934. It was rebuilt but again destroyed by fire In 1989. It was rebuilt a third time of stone, and consecrated in 1993; it was this version of the monastery we visited.
(Some interior scenes from the Tengboche Monastery)
The monastery is really a campus and is said to be home to 60 monks. The main building has a prayer hall, where a large statue of Buddha is found. The rebuilt monastery has a camping area, where we spent two nights. Guests are fairly free to explore the complex, but be respectful of the monks faith and privacy.
(Our campsite on the Tengboche Monastery grounds)
One of the best features of the Monastery is its fabulous views of key Himalayan peaks, including Mt. Everest, Mt. Nuptse. Mt. Lhoste and Ama Dablam. Their peaks touch the Jetstream, raising plumes of snow, as you can see in the photo below.
(Views of Mts. Everest, Nuptse and Lhoste from the Monastery)
Many consider it a necessary stopping point for people trekking to Mt. Everest. Mountain climbers and their Sherpas will often stop to light a candle and pray for a good trip.
Tengboche Monastery is surrounded by prayers flag. The flags are in five colors denoting five Buddhist elements: earth, wind, fire, water, and consciousness.
The most difficult part about the visit is getting uphill to the monastery. The walk is long and fairly steep. But I thought it well worth it. I enjoyed the two days we spent here. There really is nothing quite like it anywhere else.
(Yaks, near the Tengboche Monastery)