It’s the spiritual gateway to the Everest region, sitting as it does bang on the path between Namche Bazaar and one of the world’s most popular treks – the Everest Base Camp route.
There’s no doubt the Tengboche Monastery a breathtaking setting on a ridgeline amidst the mountains of the Khumbu region, framed by the soaring teeth of the surrounding Himalayan mountains.
Forests of Blue Pine, fir, juniper and rhododendron fill the valleys and just above the monastery are panoramic views of the Himalayas, including Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam.
For me the visit to the monastery came at the end of a lesser-travelled trek to the Gokyo Lakes and to be honest I was shocked at how busy this trail to EBC has become – a veritable trekking highway compared to the serenity of the Gokyo route. There were row-upon-row of tents set up in a field beside the monastery for organised trekking group (I found good lodgings in nearby Deboche village).
Buddhism arrived in the Khumbu Valley around 350 years ago but the first monastery wasn’t built until 1916 by Lama Gulu. Nepal’s Tengboche Monastery is the largest monastery in this region (it is also sometimes known as Thyangboche Monastery or Dawa Choling Gompa).
Sadly a number of fires and earthquakes mean the current incarnation of Tengboche Monastery was actually built in the early 1990s. With the financial help of international aid organisations and trekkers it has been carefully rebuilt and restored.
The interior of the monastery is exquisitely decorated with recreated mural paintings on the walls and colourfully embroidered textile hangings.
Around 60 monks live here and on the steps outside the main doors of the monastery young monks and novices slope around. They wear red North Face fleece tops and down jackets over their robes, play volleyball and wash their smalls in tubs of steaming water.
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you visited Tengboche Monastery?