Tengboche Monastery- The Spiritual Centre of the Khumbu
Nepal is renowned all over the world for its Himalayas. The largest sovereign Himalayan state in the south east of Asia, Nepal houses eight of the ten tallest mountains in the world- including Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world. The country is also famous for its multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity. Nepal is occupied by people who all follow different religions and have their own practices and believes. With a majority of the country’s population being Hindu, Nepal has also developed a distinct art and architectural dexterity. The country’s prominent Newa and Tibetan style architecture is used on many old buildings and temples that are reminiscent of the medieval times. The cultural diversity of the country also results in many religiously significant sites and places of worship being erected at various places throughout the country. Nepal has religious and pilgrimage sites that occur both naturally like the Gosainkunda Lakes and man-made like the array of Stupas and temples built on places that feature religious prominence like the Stupa of Swayambhunath in the Kathmandu valley among countless others. Likewise, the Tengboche Monastery is also a prominent monastery of the Khumbu region. The Everest region, also known as the Khumbu region, is one of the most famous trekking regions in the country. The Khumbu region is famous for its Mahalangur Himalayan range and famous mountain villages like Namche and Tengboche. The region sees an inflow of thousands of trekkers every year. Among the various trekking journeys in the Khumbu, the Everest Base Camp Trek is perhaps the most popular. The trekking journey to the Base Camp of Everest is not only famous in Nepal, but renowned throughout the world. It is considered one of the most beautiful and adventurous trekking journeys on the planet. Because of the inclusion of amazing sights of the mountain peaks and many splendid mountain villages like Dingboche, Namche and Tengboche among others, the Everest Base Camp Trek is undergone by trekkers from all over the world because of the journey’s mass appeal.
Just as the village of Namche Bazaar is known as the commercial hub of the Khumbu, Tengboche is regarded as the spiritual centre of the region. Tengboche is also where the famous Tengboche Monastery is located. Panoramic views of the Himalayan Mountains like Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam and the Thamserku are seen from Tengboche. Prominently a Sherpa settlement, Tengboche is located on a hill at the confluence of the Dudh Koshi and the Imja Khola rivers. It is approached by a mountain trail from Namche, and is a famous acclimatization destination during most Everest Base Camp Trek journeys. During the winter, the snowy peaks of Ama Dablam and the tip of Mount Everest seem to glows from the Nuptse ridge at Tengboche and several other peaks form a picturesque landscape. During the spring, the hills around Tengboche are decorated magnificently with rhododendron and azalea flowers.
The Tengboche Monastery
In the Khumbu, the Tengboche Monastery is strategically placed on the way to the Everest Base Camp and thus attracts large number of tourists from all parts of the world. The monastery is considered the spiritual centre of the region and is the largest Gompa of the area. It is also one of the highlights of the trekking journeys in the Everest region. The trekkers stop at the monastery to receive blessing from the monks there for a successful trip. Also known as Dawa Choling Gompa, the Tengboche Monastery is situated at 3,867 meters. The monastery is amidst the Sagarmatha National Park and is draped with mesmerizing Himalayan sights. It is said that Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the companion of Sir Edmund Hillary, was once sent to the Tengboche Monastery at a young age to be trained to become a monk. That obviously didn’t work out and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa then went on to become one of the first two people to climb the summit of Mount Everest along with Edmund Hillary in 1953. Considered one of the oldest celibate monasteries of the region, it played an important part in developing and strengthening the social and cultural values of the Sherpa people. Trekkers come across many Mani Stone Wall carvings while trekking in the Khumbu and the monastery is also no exception. The flat stones inscribed with the Buddhist mantra and decorated with colorful prayer flags are very beautiful to see and they provide religious ambiance to the surroundings. The monastery also houses many ancient Thanka paintings, murals, statues and scriptures. A large statue of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha extending two floors is also present in the monastery. Constructed with an absolutely beguiling stone masonry and decorated with intricate stone carvings and a pandemonium of colors, the Tengboche Monastery is a beautiful piece of Buddhist architecture. Its beauty is magnified even more with the Himals it is surrounded with. The lighting of the candles and prayers offered by the trekkers who visit the monastery, along with the monks who reside there, makes it one of the most heavenly and devotional places in the Khumbu region.
The Mani Rimdu Festival is also celebrated at the monastery every year. Mani Rimdu is one of the most fascinating Buddhist festivals of the Everest Region, and it usually is celebrated in November. Held during the tenth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, the festival is a celebration of everything good in the world. Lamas and Sherpa people gather at the monastery for five days and celebrate the festivity with beautiful costumes and rituals. It begins with an elaborate depiction of a Mandala diagram made with colored sand. One can witness different kinds of acts, plays, masked dances, prayers and feasts. Demons are quelled and the pious are rewarded during the celebration. It is a tradition passed on from its mother monastery, the Rongbuk from Tibet. The monks perform prayer rituals for all sentient beings and to dispel harmful and evil auras away. The festival is very colorful and ideal to combine with a trekking expedition in the Everest region.