Monasteries in Everest Region

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Monasteries in Everest Region

Lukla Monastery

The small Nyingma-pa gompa is accessed down a lane on the left, off the main streets by Dreamland Lodge, and before Mera Lodge. The path heads down by the North face Himalaya Resort and then right, where the gompa can be seen.

Inside are five cons, from left to right being Buddha, the red Guru Takpa, Guru Rinpoche center, the white Sanayduma, and Chenresig. Outside is a colorful wheel of life, the usual guardians, and an image of Mi Tsering, the wise man of the Khumbu who tells jokes at the main festival.

Apparently, 15-35 monks and students are active here. Adjacent to the monastery is the Thangka painting school, offering some works for sale.

Namche Monastery

The small monastery (gompa) high on the north side of the Namche bowl is worth a visit. This Nyingma-pa monastery houses a fine new golden image of Chenresig, the Tibetan bodhisattva (Buddha disciple or grat teacher) knows as Avalokiteshvara in Nepal.

On the lower level is a large image of Guru Rinpoche with an image of the Sakyamuni Buddha the earthly Buddha born in Nepal – and two Taras, the female deities linked to the Buddha. Two very large prayer wheel chambers here are of interest.

The first house Guru Rinpoche and eight of his other manifestations plus the 21 Taras. The eight images are Lodan Choged, Shakya Sengge, Padma Sambhava, Sengge Dragtog, Dorje Drolod (Droll) the fiery one, Tsoke Dorje in Yab-yum, Padma Gyalpo, and Nima Odzer. The second chamber has hundreds of Buddha images.

Mende Monastery

Mende monastery belongs primarily to the Nyingma-pa, but it also finds favor with the Gelug-pa sect. The cave of the founding lama is just 3mins slightly uphill to the east. See below. After he died in 1944, he became known as the Zapo Rinpoche. The new incarnate was found in Thame as a young boy and came to the site where the monastery has been constructed.

Iside the main Chamber, along with the back altar, are statues of Sakyamuni, Chenresig, Guru Rinpoche, and the Gren Tara(left to right). In front of a glass, an altar is the Gelug-pa icons, Tsong Khapa and his disciples, Shariputea, etc.

The monastery now has electricity, installed since the hotel was built. The present reincarnate of Zopa Rinpoche has been abroad for the last few years, and has a large following in America! There is also a nunnery just down the hill in a grove of trees on the high path towards Thame, north of the main monastery.

Thamo Monastery

For years this formerly small gompa was always locked and decrepit-looking. Now a super building with a large courtyard has been built here, called Kari Garden Tenpheling. It is rare to find a Gelukpa sect institution in the Sherpa region and it is also a nunnery.

The Dalai Lama holds a central Buddha and a Gelukpa Lama with his yellow hat. The eight symbols of Tibetan Buddhism are displayed. Ten nuns currently reside in this complex.

Thame Monastery

Thame Monastery is yet further uphill and takes another 30-45mins to reach. Again the monastery is the best visited in the morning when views are normally better, and after another night one is better acclimatized.

This monastery is over 300 years old and was established by Lama Sangwa Dorje. Rebuilt after the earthquake, the Nyingma-pa monastery has a large courtyard area with a sun kettle dish.

The four guardians are present, of course, with a graphic wheel of life illustration and the harmonious friends standing on the elephant. A big wheel is on hand to pass the prayers skywards, along with the two fearsome protectors –the red Tamdrin (Hayagriva) and a dark Channa Dorje (Varjapani).

Inside it is surprisingly bare, but with a vast collection of books. Buddha, Chenresig, and Guru Rinpoche are clear. Also here is a photo of the revered lama, Trulsik Rinpoche are clear.

Also here is a photo of the revered lama, Trulsik Rinpoche, who is also abbot of the Thubten Chholing monastery above Junbesi. Up to 35 monks are in residence here. There are a couple of newish lodges here and some steep steps - beware! The Thame Mani Rimbu festival is held in May.

Khumjung Monastery

Khumjung monastery is well worth a visit and houses the only remaining yeti scalp, now that the more famous version has absconded from Pangboche monastery. The man with the keys can usually be found and donations are welcomed.

Inside the main chamber are various deities. Guru Rinpoche again takes center stage with his consorts. Here they are according to the guardian, Re Pa-Meh, the small red vision on the right, and Chowo Yeshe  Norbu on the left.

Further to the right is Jawa Changba in gold and to the left is the White Chenresig. The Yeti Sclap is in the metal box under wraps.

Pangboche Monastery

The monastery at Pangboche used to house the so-called yeti scalp. But it disappeared a few years ago. The monastery is the oldest in the Khumbu region and up to 20 monks perform ceremonies here.

Inside we again find Guru Rinpoche and his consorts. Outside are paintings of the four main guardian deities and the eight auspicious signs on each side of the doors.

Tengboche Monastery

The first monastery here was established in 1916, taking three years to construct. Chatang Chotar, more often known as Lama Gulu, established the monastery, which has ties with the Rongbuk monastery close to the base camp of Everest on the Tibetan north side.

In 193an an earthquake damaged the monastery and Lama Gulu died soon after. A devastating fire occurred in1989; the monastery was gutted and some of its treasures were lost.

The new monastery has slowly been rebuilt and is now complete. The current Rinpoche, Ngawang Tenzin Jangpo, was born in 1935 on the same day as the Dalai Lama. After a visit by his family to the Rongbuk monastery, he was recognized as the incarnate of Lama Gulu.

His initial training took place in Tibet and he returned to Tengboche in 1956. He is now very active in promoting all aspects of Buddhism and conservation.

Phakding Monastery

Phakding monastery has been enlarged; there is a view of Thamserku, part of Kusum Kanguru, and, way north, of Tawache in clear weather. Some say Everest is visible from higher up the ridge. This monastery is Nyingma-pa and is quite active.

There are around 20 monks and nuns in residence and offering puja, usually in the mornings we understand. The main building houses a fearsome vision of Guru Rinpoche holding his usual Vajra/Dorje, the mace of skulls and vase-like objects.

On either side of him is even more fearsome visions; these two female deities are his consorts, known in Nepal generally as Yeshe Tsogyal and Mandarava. The figure on the right is a very strange-looking white demon with a ghastly mouth and fearsome eyes.

The other is equally fearsome and is known equally as Dorje Tapu. Also on display are Sakyamuni Buddha and Chenresig.

If the abbot permits you to visit upstairs, you will find a smaller chamber housing prayer books and, in particular, a mask of the long-life man Mi Tsering. Outside, the courtyard is used for celebrations of many festivals as well as the yearly Dumje puja. This is helping to refocus and reawaken the old traditions and festivals of the Sherpa culture.

At the time of our visit, the courtyard had some amazing old silk and wood-painted panels, which somewhat exposed the elements. These displayed three images, one reminiscent of Tsong Khapa, founder of the later Gelug-pa sect of the Dalai Lama, one of the Sakyamuni Buddha, and one astonishing Yab-Yum figure.

The yab-yum figure is the image of the Buddha and his consort in a close physical embrace;  this is a Tantric image closely associated with the Nyingma-pa.

This Yab-yum is particularly interesting, in that it represents the fearsome version with the ugly three-headed male demon embracing his consort and standing on corpses. (This angry embracing couple was hard to define, but subsequent research revealed them to belong to the Vighnantaka group of deities.) The monks and nuns here were preparing and taking their traditional breakfast of tsampa balls and butter tea.

Kyarok Monastery

Access to this little-visited sanctuary is steeply uphill next to a signboard heading left. The Kyarok  Sangngag Choling monastery is one of the oldest in the region. It follows the Nyingma-pa old traditions and is overseen by Kerok Gaga Lama, whose picture is seen as gompa.

The main icons in the dark chamber included on the left Tsuma, with five skulls and a fearsome appearance in red color. Guru Rinpoche takes certain stages on and the right is a fierce snow lion icon, with the name unknown by us.

Books take up most of the remaining space. Outside are the familiar wheel of life and guardians of the four directions. On the right is an unusual painting of a stupa; it looks quite modern in age and design.

Trulsik Rinpoche

Trulsik Rinpoche was born in Lho Talung, Tibet in 1923. At the age of four, he was recognized by Ngawang Tenzin as the reincarnation of the noted master trulsik Tendru Dorje. He later became a tulku within the Mindro+ling school, studying at Mindroling monastery southeast of Lasha.

In 1959, he took refuge in Nepal at Chiwong, near Phaphlu. The monastery grew incredibly to its current state, assuming an important position in the Everest region for monks, nuns, pilgrims, and even trekkers. Trulsik Rinpoche passed away in September 2011 at the age of 88.

Chiwong Monastery

Situated in the Solu Khumbu region, north of Phaphul airfield high up around 2800m, is Chiwong gompa. The area of Solu Khumbu is seen by the Sherpa people as a scared valley-by. The late Sangay Lama founded Chiwong Monastery in 1923 but his lineage goes back to Tibet and the Kham region.

It was from here that many of the Sherpa people came over 500 years ago. Some very wise and learned Rinpoches have spent time at Chiwong. Amongst the most revered were Dza-Rongphuk Sangey Ngawang Tenzing Jangpo and an earlier Trulsik Rinpoche who lived at the monastery from 1960-67.

The colorful Sherpa Mani Rimdu festival is held here in spring, with masked dancing and recitals of the great Buddist texts. Between 10 and 20 monks can be found at the monastery at any one time. The Chiwong monastery Sangey Trust is helping to maintain and preserve the site.

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