Ancient monasteries in Buddhist Sacred Site Trail of Everest Region of Nepal
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Ancient monasteries in Buddhist Sacred Site Trail of Everest Region of Nepal

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Detailled Description of monasteries in Buddhist Sacred Site Trail of Khumbhu Region

Namche Monastery
Name: Sanga Thechok Dechenling
Sect: Nyingmapa
Established: 300 years old
Altitude: 3440m
Religious Festival: Nyingne, Dumji
Monk: One
Namche Bazzar is the trading center and the main gateway to the upper Khumbhu Region. It features a small 300 year-old Gompa which is used for special ceremonies. Like all the monasteries, the interior shrine is painted brightly with images of many deities. Unfortunately, the monastery fell into disrepair, and a restoration fund was recently started with the help of the local community and outsiders.

Thamo Manstery
Name: Khari Dhogan Ganden Tenpheling
Sect: Gelukpa
Reincarnation: Khari Rinpoche
Established: 1962
Altitude: 2900m
Monks/Nuns: 35 nuns
In 1959, the Khari Rinpoche with some nuns and monks came to Thamo crossing Nangpa-La after the Chinese invaded Tibet and destroyed thousands of monasteries including Khari Gompa taking all the valuable items to China. The Rinpoche was followed by other monks and nuns, becoming the first of many Tibetan refugees that now live in Khumbhu. In 1961, the villages from Thamo kindly offered a plot of land for the monastery and approached Khari Rinpoche to settle in their village. The Rinpoche and his followers happily a accepted the offer and with the help of the community, the new Khari Gompa was built in 1962 in a record time of three days. Later, His Holiness the Dalai Lama named it Ganden Tenpheling, the Joyful Dharma Island. After Khari Rinpoche’s death in 1970, the numbers of Gompa residents dwindle to only 35 nuns and 3 monks.

Thame Monastery
Name: Dechen Choekhoring
Sect: Nyingma
Established: 350 years old
Altitude: 3780m
Religious Festival: Nyinge, Dumji, Mani Rimdu, Yarne
Monks: 35
Theme Monastery was built 350 years ago into the steep, bluffed hillside above the Thengbo Khola. Thame Monastery was built at the same time as Kerok, Pangboche and Rimijung Gompas, when three brothers migrated from Rolwaling and settled in Khumbhu. Residing in this monastery is a reincarnate that came from the adjacent Rolwaling Valley. Thame Gompa holds Mani Rimdu festival in of each year.

Kerok Monastery
Name: Sangacholing Gompa Thechok Dechenling
Sect: Nyingmapa
Established: 350 years old
Altitude: 3540m
Religious Festival: Nyingne, Dumji, Chojen
Monks: 10
Established 350 years ago by Rolpa Dorje, this is the sister monastery of Pangboche and Rimijung in the Pharak area. There are three permanent monks in Kyobra and also a small school that teaches Dharma and encourages youngsters to become monks.

Gendukpa (Gamu Phuk)/ Gamu Cave
Gamu Phuk was discovered when Chatang Choying in Rangdul went to search for water to cease difficulties. The sites of significance at the Gamu Phuk are foot and palm points near the cave, which is also named Gamu Phuk. Around the 28th of January reach year, a special puja is performed to keep the area safe and prosperous. On the 29th day of each month, there is another puja held to respect the god that protects the region and provides greater peace and harmony. Additionally, Lamju is held on February, 7th each year to respect the deceased Chatang Choying Rangdul. Likewise, on February 27th, a special puja is performed to diminish evil spirits.

Lawudo Retreat Center
In the Solu Khumbhu Mountains at 4000m, Lawudo Lama, a famous yogi and the previous incarnation of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, lived and meditated in a cave for many years. He belonged to the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and had been a great master of the complete tantric teachings of the Nyingma tradition. He spent all his time either meditating or giving teachings and spiritual advice to the people of Solu Khumbhu and neighboring regions. The present Lama Thupten Zopa Rinpoche was initiated into Nyingma tradition by the head lama of the Thame Gompa. When he returned to Solu Khumbhu in 1967, he restored the cave and built a small Gompa. Since then, some rooms water supply, and solar panels were added to facilitated retreat for locals and visitors. Lawudo has become an ideal place for solitary retreat, offering silence and solitude in a magic and spiritually charged atmosphere, a fitting place for meditation. At present there are fifty children in the monastery receiving a closely supervised monastic education that includes not only traditional Buddhist studies, but classes in Nepali, English, Tibetan, Mathematics and art as well. Due to high altitude, Lawudo is cold all year round; one needs to be equipped with warm clothing and sleeping bag. Those heart-problems should check with their doctors regarding the high altitude.

Khunde Tsamkang
Name: Mtsam Kham Monastery
Sect: Gelukpa
Reincarnation: Lama Tenzing Chendum
Established: 1972
Altitude: 3750m
Religious Festival: Nyingne
Monks/Nuns: 18
35 years ago, Lama Tenzing Chendum and his team, who migrated from Tibet, happily accepted a plot of land offered by the people of Khunde Village, to build a Tsamkang. With the help of local people, mainly from KHunde and Khumjung, the construction of Tsamkang monastery was complted in 1972. Over its lifespan, the Tsamkang was extended several times. Its original small size and the weak foundation required renovation was complted in 2000 with thanks to the hard work of local craftsmen and the Sherpa cimmunity from Khunde and Khumjung Village.

Khumjung Monastery
Name: Decheling Gompa
Sect: Nyingmapa
Established: 120 years old
Altitude: 3700m
Monk: one
At the foot of the sacred peak of Khumbila, lie the village of Khumjung, where the monastery was established approximately 340 years ago and where the skull of Yeti or abominable snowman is preserved and displayed. The Mountain Institute provided financial support for Gompa kitcjen renovation, Maniwall restoration and cloth bags to use for festivals.

Phortse Monastery
Name: Takri Choling Gompa
Sect: Nyingmapa
Established: 1997
Altitude: 3840m
Religious Festival: Nyingne, Dumji
Monk: One
Phortse Manastery was established 15 years back with the permission and blessing from the Dalai Lama and with the generous support from Tony Freak, a British Volunteer. Until then, the people of Phortse had to walk to Pangboche for 3 hours maximum to perform any religious festivals such as Dumji and Nyingne.

Pangboche Monastery
Name: Pal Rilbu Gompa
Sect: Nyingmapa
Established: 350 years old
Altitude: 3900m
Religious Festival: Nyingne and Dumji
Monk: One
Pangboche is the last permanent settlement located at the height of 3900m along the trekking route to Everest Region. Pangboche Monastery, built 350 years back by Lama Sangwa Dorjee, is the oldest monastery within the Khumbhu Region. The Gompa lost its main source of income when its Yeti Skull was stolen.

Debuche Nunnery Monastery
Name: Sherap Choling Gompa
Sect: Nyingmapa
Established: 80 years old
Altitude: 3800m
Religious Festival: Nyingne
Monks/Nuns: 15 nuns
Nestled amoung lush Rhododendron and Juniper forest, Debuche Monastery was built by the founder of Tengboche, Lama Gulu, for the nuns who earlier did not have a place of their own. Currently there are nine nuns living in this tiny monastery which is quite old compared to other Gompas and nuns themselves are poor. Due to lack of facilities, some of the nuns have abandoned the area and have gone to India and Kathmandu to study.

Tengboche Monastery
Name: Dawa Choling Gompa
Sect: Nyingmapa
Established: 1919
Altitude: 3867m
Religious Festival: Mani Rimdu, Yarne
Monks/Nuns: 35
Built in 1919, Tengboche Gompa is the largest and the most active monastery in Khumbhu. The Monastery was destroyed in an earthquake in 1934 and rebuilt a few years later. On 19 January 1989, a fire destroyed the entire Gompa building; fortunately, many items of the monastery’s extensive collection of books, painting and religion relics were saved. The Sherpa people of Khumbhu, with the help from many international organizations raised funds and reconstructed the Gompa in September 1993. The support has kept the monastery thriving and many young monks living in the monastery receive excellent education. Tengboche holds the Mani Rimdu festival in November.

Nakarjung Hermitage
Name: Nagarjang Hermitage
Sect: Nyingmapa
Established: 450 years old
Altitude: 4800m
Religious Festival: Nyingne
Monk: One
The whole of khumbhu is considered sacred and there are many caves and hermitages that are used by highly regarded teachers, and monks for meditation and retreat. Most villages have a temple or Gompa, which is supported by the lay community. The monks are invited to the villages to perform the important yearly ceremonies. Perched precariously at an altitude of 4800m, one hour above Dingboche village, Nakarjung Hermitage rests on the steep slopes of Nakarjung-Ri, a sacred peak believed to be the abode of a Dolma, or goddess of prosperity. The hermitage is the oldest in the Khumbhu region and one of the highest in the world. The hermitage is believed to be built on the first meditation site of Lama Sangwa Dorjee, the Tibetan Lama who first brought Nyingmapa Buddhism to the Khumbhu. Its spectacular location affords commanding views of the Imja Khola Valley, Ama Dablam, Makalu and other snow-capped mountains. The hermitage is now used primarily for Nyingne meditation sessions: monks spend their days alternating in prayer and meditative fasts. Monks from Tengboche monastery often come to the monastery for spiritual retreats and intensive medition, often staying for three months at a time. In mid June, the Gompa is the focal point of the local festival of Dukpa Chejik, when the small stream that runs by the monastery is celebrated for its healing powers (Dukpa means “healing, holy water”, and Chejik means “first day”).

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