The Rongbuk Monastery is located at the northern foot of Mt. Everest. The monastery was originally built in 1902 by a Nyingmapa Lama. The area where Rongbuk Monastery was built that had been used by monks and hermits for meditation for over 400 years. The monastery is located 5,000 meters above sea level near the north side base camp of Mount Everest, making it the highest monastery in the world. It is a monastery of the Nyingma sect of Buddhism. It now houses about thirty monks and nuns, but in the past, it housed as many as 500. Hermitage meditation caves dot the cliffs around the monastery, and many stones carved with prayers and sacred symbols line the paths to them.
The founding Lama, who was very much respected by Tibetans, viewed the early climbers of Mount Everest as heretics, but he gave them housing and supplied them with meat and tea. The monastery used to be very active and was a destination for Buddhist pilgrimages. Although fairly quiet now, there are several times a year when the monastery hosts ceremonies and pilgrims from all over Tibet travel to the Rongbuk Monastery for them. In the middle of the fourth month of the Tibetan Calendar, the monastery hosts a Buddhist dancing ceremony known as the Saka Dawa Festival which lasts for three days. During the ceremony, monks put on plays. The noisy spectacle attracts hundreds of visitors each year. Another festival celebrated at the Rongbuk Monastery is the ghost festival. It is held on the 29th day of the 12th month on the Tibetan Calendar. The festival is used to placate ghosts and monks wearing masks perform in the grand festival.
Located near the Rongbuk Monastery is the famous Rongbuk Glacier, which is the largest of the hundreds of glaciers, located around Mount Everest. The three glaciers that are located on the north side of Mount Everest meet at a river called Rongbu River. The water in the river is extremely cold all year round.
The Rongbuk Monastery can be reached from Lhasa and Shigatse City by road. The monastery has recently been renovated and has a simple guesthouse and restaurant. There are a few hostels located around the monastery and each room can house four to five people.
Sample tour to view the Rongbu Monastery:
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