Tengboche Monastery (or Thyangboche Monastery), also known as Dawa Choling Gompa, in the Tengboche village in Khumjung in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Sherpa community. Situated at 3,867 metres (12,687 ft), and en route to Everest Base Camp, the monastery is the largest monastery in the Khumbu region of Nepal. It is perched on a hill, at the confluence of Dudh Koshi and Imja Khola rivers, with Mt. Ama Dablam forming a stunning backdrop to the location.
History and Architecture
Established by Lama Gulu in 1916, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1934, and was subsequently rebuilt. Tragedy befell on the monastery again when it was engulfed by fire in 1989. It was re-established with the help of devoted volunteers from the area with international assistance. The resulting structure is a great work of stone masonry on display, complete with extended courtyard and spacious halls to facilitate religious rites and activities. Also located within its vicinity is a nunnery as Vajrayana Buddhism does not distinguish between sexes.
A Heritage within a Heritage
A heritage in its own right, Tengboche Monastery falls within the Sagarmatha National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), draped with a panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountains, including the well-known peaks of Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, and Thamserku.
Tengboche is the terminus site of the “Sacred Sites Trail Project” of the Sagarmatha National Park that attracts the large number of tourists for trekking and mountaineering. It is a circular trail that covers 10 monasteries, caves,Hermitages and Nunneries in the clockwise direction, starting from Namche Bazaar and terminating in the Tengboche Monastery.
The colourful Mani Rimdu Festival
Each year, the monastery hosts the delightful Mani Rimdu Festival on the tenth lunar month of Tibetan calendar, corresponding to the months of October-November, coincidentally during the best trekking season in Nepal. This is a festival of religious rites, songs, dances, enactments of legends, and characterised by vibrant colours and noise that takes the centre stage in one of the most spectacular of settings.
Performed by local monks dressed up in traditional religious attire and masks, the dance symbolizes the victory of Buddhism over the ancient religion of ‘Bon’. This is an important event well attended by the local Sherpa community, many of whom travel a long journey to witness the event. As the festival is celebrated over an extended period of nineteen days, you could very well be a part of the occasion, and even partake in the events itself.
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