5h trek day, from Namche Bazar (3.440 m) to Tengboche (3.867),
5 hours 20 min.
On Friday, December the 17th, 2010, in Tengboche
16:30, Thyangboche Guest House (3.867 m)
In the picture, in background, from right to left: AmaDablam, Lhotse, Everest (cloudy). Me and my Diddly Mouse, happily and enthuziastic about the open, large place of Tengboche. The Gompa is left side, the houses left are the last lodges. Right of them, starts the path to Dingboche.
So, I knew I am crazy … But not sooo crazy!!!! To come up hier, alone, carrying a backpack of 19 kg! Leaving Namche Bazar there are several possibilities to reach Tengboche, as all the different paths converge at a point in a single thread further on.
But let’s start with the wake up procession in Namche Bazar this Friday morning: the probably entire amount of 76 monks began to teem around 6 a.m. I don’t even realize if I slept over night. Their instruments (horns – see below some infos about Tengboche Gompa) began to strongly resonate again at 6,30 sharp! As the cold in the room does not appeal you to stretch out from your warm sleeping bag, where you heavily found a place among all batteries, water supplies, lights, socks for next day, tissues, cameras and so on, to leave your bed becomes a real challenge, which will be more difficult every day from now on. But as I know I need my own time for packing my backpack and be ready for the breakfast, I decided to be courageous and to crawl out. For the 3rd morning I ordered the same standard breakfast, but this time I asked not to forget to include the tiny drop of old butter and the teaspoon of jam. So I had 2 fried eggs, 2 pieces of toasts, the symbolic fried potato and an extra liter of boiled water. The rude guy wanted to argue with me as he brought me the final bill, but I’ve just sent him to ask about my room price, as I was supposed to pay 300 NRP less as his calculation. As I was so unsatisfied about the services and approach in Kumbu Lodge, I didn’t let any tip. I took one of the fried eggs with me, on one of the two toasts and that was my lunch at 1 p.m., somewhere on the dusty dry way up to Tengboche, as the hunger, loneliness and dismay of a road which seemed to be without any end made me to take a break for 10 minutes, sitting on a rock.
In the picture: easy segment on level curve. In background right: Lhotse and left of it the Everest Peak, very far away in the backgound.
I left the lodge in Namche at 8,30, a.m., going to the right side at the intersection left on the stairs up (if you go right, you reach the bazaar) and I started the climb on the rocky high stairs. These kind of stairs which are all over Himalayas have different heights, starting from 10 up to 30-40 cm and after several hours of stepping on them you do not feel comfortable anymore, in any way. After about 15 minutes of climbing stairs on east of Namche Bazar, the road becomes a larger relaxed path, stretches winding and dusty in front of your feet, relatively flat, without any relevant ascents and descents. Then it follows a level curve which cuts the forested mountain and curls straight, exiting and entering again into the mountain, up&down, up&down. The first two hours were sort of decent, if I can say so. Very sunny, very warm, in front of me it trekked a larger group of Americans, but they had porters and disappeared very fast, taking then the path up to Gokyo. Although I met many tourist today, from a certain point I was completely alone on the trail, probably much to slowly. So I reached marvelous Tengboche only after 5 hours and about 20 minutes, walking today from 3.440 m to 3.867 m. From Namche to Sanasa (3.600,) it took me exactly two hours and I hopped to reach Tengboche after another two hours. But from Phunki Thanka starts a terrible climb, so exhausting and maddening, through the forest, short zig-zags, a lot of dust, stones, rocks, steep[ …. 3 hours!!! Of course I reached Tengboche at about 13:45 very exhausted, so I stopped at the gate and took some pictures. After I entered the gate to the stupas and I saw the open plateau ….. no people, only sun, having Ama Dablam on the right and far away the Everest and Lotse …… what a wonderful view!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I happily run over the open, large meadow over 3.800 m, I ate something and I visited the gompa and I have to say that I felt in a special way being inside.
The Tengboche Gompa is one of the oldest and biggest in Nepal and it is much more to write about it, but as here is no electricity and my fingers are frozen, I have to stop for now. I will have dinner close to the warm stove, viva the yak shit!! An amazing sunset over Ama Dablam!!
Due to a strange inspiration, I didn’t accept a room inside the lodge, so I rent a room outside, having the toilet also outside. In such an open high place, without tourists, I just had the feeling I have to be closer to the stars on the sky and during the night I had to go outside three time and I really admired the million of stars on the blue sky and the shinny moon …. no, you cannot understand, because you were not there that night …… we are such a tiny creatures on this Earth, really! I am so poor, have no money, but I feel so rich being here. Always.
Collecting information about TENGBOCHE GOMBA (only the pictures were taken by me):
Tengboche Monastery (or Thyangboche Monastery), also known as Dawa Choling Gompa, located 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, the monastery is the largest gompa in the Khumbu region of Nepal. The monastery was built in 1916 by Lama Gulu with strong links to its mother monastery known as the Rongbuk Monastery in Tibet. However, in 1934, it was destroyed by an earthquake and was subsequently rebuilt. In 1989, it was destroyed for a second time by a fire and then rebuilt with the help of volunteers and international assistance.
Tengboche monastery located amidst the Sagarmatha National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site of “outstanding universal value”), is 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 also the terminus site of the “Sacred Sites Trail Project” of the Sagarmatha National Park that attracts large number of tourists for trekking and mountaineering. It is a circular trail that covers 10 monasteries in a clockwise direction terminating in the Tengboche Monastery.
Khumbu valley, where the monastery is located, came under the influence of Buddhism about 350 years back. Ancient scriptures of Tibet refer to this valley along with Rowlang and Khanbalung valleys as sacred places. Lama Sangwa Dorje is referred to as the founder of the oldest monastery in Khumbu at Pangboche as well as many other small hermitages. His divine psychic knowledge and clairvoyant vision had prophesised suitability of establishing a monastery at Tengboche based on a foot print on a rock left by him while meditating. However, the actual establishment of the monastery happened only during Ngawang Tenzin Norbu’s time; Norbu was considered as Sangwa Dorje’s fifth incarnation. He had established a monastery at Rongbuk in Tibet on the northern face of Mt. Everest. He blessed Chatang Chotar, known as Lama Gulu, to found the Tengboche monastery at Tengboche village and as a result it got established at its present location in 1916. It is the first celibate monastery under the Nyingmapa lineage of the Vajrayana Buddhism. However, many older village level monasteries also exist close by. Three wealthy inhabitants of the local Sherpa community are credited with funding building of the monastery. Among these three, Karma was the most influential and well known as he was a tax collector, and he also enjoyed the patronage of the Rana rulers of Nepal. It is also said that apart from Khumbu Sherpas, Sherung Sherpas have also been involved with building this monastery. Some of the village temples, chortens and smaller religious shrines are predated to 1880, particularly all the large chortens. The Mani wall, made of slabs of stone inscribed with prayers and sacred texts is dated to 1915.
The monastery was destroyed during the 1934 earthquake. Subsequently, Lama Gulu who had built it also died. His successor, Umze Gelden, took up the task of rebuilding the monastery, with strong support from Ngawang Tenzin Norbu. The monks and the local community, with support from a skilled carpenter from Lhasa, re-established the monastery. Exclusive murals were painted by Kappa Kalden, a renowned artist. With an influx of tourists to the Khumbu region, particularly for trekking by mountaineers, the monastery has received wide recognition.
However, the monastery’s precious old scriptures, statues, murals and wood carvings were destroyed in the devastating fire caused by an electrical shortcircuit on January 19, 1989. The monumental stone credited with Lama Sangwa Dorje’s left footprint had also fractured. However, a few trekkers managed to salvage some books and paintings. It has since been completely rebuilt with money donated from all round the world.
Following the destruction of the monastery by fire, its rebuilding was undertaken by the present Nawang Tenzing Jangpo who is considered as the incarnation of the founder Lama Gulu, an important spiritual leader of the Sherpas. He has established an equation with many trekkers and climbers of all denominations who visit the monastery, which has helped him in finding funds for restoration. With due diligence to the set religious practices, the monastery has been substantially rebuilt. Tibetan painter Tarke-la’s wall paintings that display the Bodhisattvas or the Buddha decorate the sanctum. In addition, the monks and Sherpa community with help from the Sir Edmund Hillary and Himalayan Trust, the American Himalayan Heritage Foundation and many international well-wishers have put in their support in several ways.
Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, an inhabitant of this village, were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest on the British 1953 expedition and thereafter this monastery has acquired more international interest, as it is on the route to the base camp of Everest for routes made via the Khumbu icefall and west ridge. Everest expeditioners visit the monastery to light candles and seek the blessings of gods for good health and safe mountaineering. John Hunt, the leader of the 1953 expedition and one of the first mountaineers to visit the monastery (most, but not all, previous expeditions approached the mountain from the northern (Tibetan) side), offered the following description of Thengboche in The Ascent of Everest:
Thyangboche must be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The height is well over 12,000 feet. The Monastery buildings stand upon a knoll at the end of a big spur, which is flung out across the direct axis of the Imja river. Surrounded by satellite dwellings, all quaintly constructed and oddly mediaeval in appearance, it provides a grandstand beyond comparison for the finest mountain scenery that I have ever seen, whether in the Himalaya or elsewhere.
The rebuilt monastery was formally consecrated in 1993 and is considered as the gateway to Mount Everest. The religious room of the Guru Rimpoche in the monastery was fully restored in September 2008. The entrance gate has also been rebuilt with funds provided by the Greater Himalayas Foundation based in Washington DC, USA
The monastery is now said to be home to 60 monks reflecting its financial prosperity. However, it is also said that fewer and fewer young boys join as monks as they prefer to work in mountaineering or trekking-related activities.
Tengboche Monastery is located on a hill at the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and the Imja Khola rivers. It lies in Khumbu district to the north east of Kathmandu on the Nepal – Tibet border. It is inhabited by sherpas (‘sherpa’ literally means the easterner) who migrated from Tibet six hundred years ago. The monastery is approached by a mountain trail from Namche, via the nearest airport in Lukla (2,800 metres) connecting to Kathmandu. Its approach is by a hard three days of trekking from Lukla. However, considering acclimatization needs for the high altitude climbing, a four day trekking is generally preferred. This trail crosses initially the Dudh Kosi (3,250 metres) river and a further climb leads to the Tengboche monastery at 3,870 metres altitude. However, a down hill trek leads to Devouche, the nunnery. The backdrop to the monastery is provided, particularly during winter, by the shining snow clad peak of Ama Dablam, the tip of the Everest that glows from the Lotse ridge and several other peaks. Tengboche is mid way station of the trail to the base camp for the mountain climbers of Mount Everest and other peaks of over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) elevation; all these areas form part of the entire Kumbhu region up to Tibet border with an area of 1,148 square kilometres (443 sq mi) encompassing the Sagarmatha National park. In the Kumbu region of Nepal, the monastery is strategically placed on the way to Everest base camp and thus attracts large number of tourists from all parts of the world. During the spring season, hill slopes around Tengboche are covered with flowering rhododendrons.
“IT ISN’T MUSIC AND IT HAS NO RHYTHM. Amplified by the clear mountain air, the cacophony of sound is deafening. Conversation becomes impossible and all attention turns to the temple entrance, whence a procession of solemn faced monks is emerging. Dressed in orange silk robes, and with yellow crescent-shaped hats perched precariously on their heads, they carry an assortment of instruments including bugles made from human bones, giant conch shells and long, brass horns.
These horns, known locally as dun chen, issue the deep, hoarse notes that herald the unforgettable Mani Rimdu Festival.
Every year, in the Khumbu region of Nepal, this Buddhist Dance Drama is enacted by the monks of Tengboche Monastery. The site of this high altitude entertainment is the temple, or gompa, within the monastery itself. Situated on a generous plateau at an altitude of almost four thousand metres, the gompa is crowned by some of the highest mountains in the world: Thamserku (6608m), Kangteiga, (6779m) Taboche (6542m) and two kilometres or so away, the summit of Mount Everest (8848m) peers above the Lhotse-Nuptse Wall.
Tengboche gompa is home to around 36 monks and 25 students, under the leadership of the Abbot Ngawang Tenzin Zangbu. The Abbot spent his early years in Namche Bazaar, a busy trading centre in the Khumbu Valley. As a small child he expressed a wish to return home to Tengboche, a desire that coincided with the death of the previous Abbot, Lama Gulu. It was believed that the child might be the Lama’s reincarnation, and monks from Tengboche visited Namche Bazaar with a heap of possessions to test him. He picked out all those that had belonged to Lama Gulu, and from the age of five was raised at Tengboche as the Reincarnate Lama and Guru Rinpoche of the monastery.
Tengboche translates as ‘sacred bowl’ and the gompa commands a view over a clearing ringed by dwarf firs and rhododendrons. The land below is occupied during the autumn trekking months by groups of western tourists.
The festival of Mani Rimdu is a three-day affair, taking place straight after October’s full moon. Sherpas and travellers alike flock to the scene to be entertained, and educated about the fundamentals of Buddhism as practised by the Sherpa people of Nepal.
The dances emanate from Tibet’s Rongbuk Monastery on the northern side of Mount Everest, and depict the triumph of Buddhism over the earlier ‘Bon religion. Followers of this ancient cult believe that the world is inhabited by spirits and supernatural forces, upon which the monks, by means of their dancing, perform the rites of expiation and purification to give protection to the people.
The bright, thundering procession slowly wends its way from the gompa towards the memorial ground outside, where an expectant crowd is gathered. The monks sit cross-legged on the ground, chanting mani or prayers as the blessing ceremony to the god of compassion, Pawa Cherenzig, begins.
These prayers invoke du, the blessing of Pawa Cherenzig, onto small, red pellets of rice, which act as powerful medicine to help guarantee a long and healthy life.
The rice is scattered among the crowd while the younger monks serve hot Tibetan tea to their seniors. The addition of rancid yak butter and salt to the tea gives it the consistency of thick soup and a memorable flavour, probably something like that of greasy dish water.
Meanwhile, the monks take it in turns to offer symbolic gifts of money, placed on white silk shawls, or katas, to the Guru Rinpoche. Each kneels reverently before the throne as the Rinpoche places the kata around his neck in the traditional form of blessing.”
Pragmatic information of the day:
LUNCH & DINNER:
Sherpa stew (250) + garlic noudl. soup (250) + hot chocolate cup (60) + SP ginger tea (250 + veg. fried pasta (300) = 1.110 NRP (16 USD)
Do not stop in the hotel at the entrance in Tengboche – I think the name is “Everest Hotel”, on the right side -, as all people I met and stayed there were complaining about bad services and high prices. O tourists paid 250 NRP for one toilet paper (instead of 80 NRP, max. 100 NRP)!!!
My advice for such of trekking trips in Himalaya:
Buy the services of a local travel agency.
If your backpack is over 12 kg, hire a porter.
Think about hiring a local guide.
My first adventure in Himalaya can be read March 2009
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