Rongbuk monastery, also known as Dzarongpu was initially established with the name of Dongnga Chöling in 1902 by the Nyingmapa lama Tsedru Ngawang Tenzin. The highest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the world lies near the base of the north face of Mount Everest, at the end of the Dzakar Chu valley at Basum Township in Tingri County of Shigatse Prefecture of Tibet. Perched at an altitude of 4, 980 meters (16,340 ft) above sea level, Rongbuk is considered to be the highest religious place and a spiritual destination in the world. Owing to its unique location, and unlike other incense-filled temples in Tibet, Rongbuk is aptly regarded as the gateway to Mount Everest. Visitors on Tibet tour or trekkers and climbers travel from Rongbuk Monastery to Everest Base Camp after an overnight stay or a brief halt in the vicinity of the monastery for capturing beautiful and picturesque photographs. The following few things will give you a better idea before you travel to the world’s highest monastery:
Getting to Rongbuk Monastery
Rongbuk Monastery is connected to Shigatse city and Lhasa by road. It can be reached from Shegar Town, also known as New Tingri, by private car after driving for about 2 to 3 hours, climbing over several mountains and covering the winding roads on the Friendship Highway. Visitors wishing to reach the Everest Base Camp from the monastery site need to board a mini-bus or a local horse cart since all private vehicles are not allowed to drive to the camp. Another option is to make 2 hours hiking up to the base camp.
Accommodation and fooding
A guesthouse and a few hostels are there for lodging nearby Rongbuk monastery, which offers rooms without independent washing room. However, electric blankets are available there to keep you warm throughout the night at Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse. One must not expect too much at other hostels as the facilities provided are very basic; it would be impractical to anticipate anything more than adequate on account the remote location. Visitors need to agree that there is nothing more incredible that waking up to pristine views of the world’s most iconic snow-capped mountain. There is only one small but cozy and bit expensive restaurant providing limited food and drinks. You are suggested to buy some food supply before going to Mt. Everest Base Camp.
Why visit Rongbuk Monastery
• Sacred place for many pilgrims, and one of the best places to admire the imposing Everest
• Mt. Everest looks like a giant pyramid standing majestically among the towering mountains and the white clouds looks like a flag on a sunny day
• Monks and nuns live together in the same monastery in perfect harmony, practicing a form of tantric Buddhism which forbids speaking
• You will see the famous Rongbuk Glacier, which is the largest among all the hundreds of glaciers formed around Mt. Everest
• The panoramic views from the monastery is particularly glorious during sunrise and sunsets
• You could take stunning photos from the Everest Observation Deck
• Each year, during Saka Dawa festival that falls on 15th April, there is a significant dancing ceremony held in the courtyard of the monastery, to celebrate the birth of Sakyamuni, Lord Buddha
Best Season to Visit
It is the most fabulous time to visit Rongbuk monastery during April and May, even mid-June because it is not as cold as in winter, and also you will be able to see Mt. Everest very clearly. Then from September to November, after the monsoon passes and before the harsh winter moves in, there is a small window of opportunity available to view the best state of Mt. Everest. The temperature in Rongbuk monastery is rather low, especially at night. Please note that at 4980 m, this area is freezing and you must take adequate warm clothing. During the typical two visiting periods, you will have the most opportunities to see the Mt. Everest clearly with panorama view. Besides for most of the mountaineers, they are also the best time for them to climb the world’s highest mountain.
Other highlights and interesting facts
• Rongbuk Monastery offers some of the most magnificent and breathtaking views of the north face of Mt. Everest and its surrounding mountains such as Shishapangma, Cho Oyu and Gyachung Kang.
• The monastery encompasses a beautiful, round Chorten and a reliquary with statues of Buddhist deities, Sakyamuni and Padmasambhava enshrined in the main hall.
• The monastery and its large chorten make for a superb photograph with Everest thrusting its head skywards in the background.
• The mural paintings depicting Tibetan religion and culture, found inside are worth appreciating.
• A vital pilgrimage site even for the Sherpas living in the slopes of the Khumbu region of Nepal.
• The monastery was utterly destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution during 1966 – 1976. The monastery’s vast treasury of books and costumes, which had been carried over to Tengboche monastery in Khumbu region on Nepal side for safekeeping, was tragically destroyed and lost in a 1989 fire.
• Rongbuk valley was known as the ‘sanctuary of birds.’ There was a strict ban on killing any animal in the area.
• The Buddhist monks and nuns live together in the monastery in total harmony in a harsh and extreme condition dedicating their lives to follow the teachings of Lord Buddha.