Rongbuk Monastery

As one of the Nyingmapa Sect monasteries, Rongbuk Monastery is the highest temple in the world with an elevation of about 5100 meters, housed both lamas and nuns here, which is quite special and different from other Tibetan monasteries. Located on the Tara Hill, north side of Mt. Everest, Tingri County, Shigatse district of Tibet, Rongbuk Monastery is featured by steep terrain and excellent landscape, and it is also a perfect site to view the highest Everest and stay overnight here before head to the Everest Base Camp (EBC) with 8000 meters away.

In the morning and also at night, there are always strong winds with extremely low temperature to minus 15 to 20 degrees Celsius from December to March, so it is really necessary to prepare cold weather outfit in advance. Between April and October, there will be tents for accommodation along the way to the Everest Base Camp, charging about 30 to 40 RMB per bed for each person. However, during the tourist season which is from May to August, there would emerge a difficult phenomenon for just one bed. Additionally, the annual dancing to the god activity is held on April 15th of each year in the Rongbuk Monastery, lasting for three days. Furthermore, the grand Tibetan exorcism ceremony is also held here on November 29th of the Tibetan calendar. According to the legend, Tibetan April 15th is the day of Shikyamuni’s birth, becoming master and death. Therefore, a variety of activities will be held to commemorate in this month, the Rongbuk Monastery is one of the sites for carrying these activities, and with the passage of time, these activities have evolved into festivals mainly celebrated by large-scale of turning scripture.

Previously, monks in Rongbuk Monastery mainly rely on the incense money. But at present, due to the development of Tibetan tourism, monks of Rongbuk Monastery have already begun to making money by setting up hostels for tourists. In the climbing season, there hostels are usually full and very hard to check in. This mainly owning to the Everest Base Camp, for Rongbuk Monastery is the only place provide accommodation for tourists near the EBC. Although Rongbuk Monastery only offer tourists hostels with poor conditions, living here is very convenient for them to appreciate the scenery of Mount Everest day and night. Actually, it is about 8 km away from Rongbuk Monastery to Everest Base Camp hence it is possible to live in the EBC if you have camping equipment. However, you need to prepare the cook units yourself for cooking. During the climbing season, liaison officers from the Tibet Mountaineering Association would station here, so tourists can buy a small amount of food and beverage from them, but the price may be almost 3 times higher than that in Lhasa. In the monastery built thirty rooms with more than 100 beds for accommodating tourists from all over the world. In addition, some restaurants and canteens can be seen in Rongbuk Monastery. Even though the living condition is relatively simple, each passenger is able to eat warm noodles, rice and other freshly made food, together with all kinds of fast food and canned food. If you don’t catch the altitude sickness, beer and other sorts of wine are also available in Rongbuk Monastery, but with a little higher price since the food here are all carried far from Shigatse, Lhasa, and even some are carried here after a long-distance trafficking from Chinese mainland.

Rongbuk Monastery is built down the hillside, at the foot of the monastery is the Rongbuk River composed of icy water melted of three large glaciers on the northern Everest: East Rongbuk Glacier, the Rongbuk Glacier and West Rongbuk Glacier. On April 15th of Tibetan calendar is the festival to commemorate the birth of Shakyamuni, and the “cham” is held on the next day in the monastery. On that day, a lot of tents will be stationed at the foot of the monastery for villagers coming to see the “cham dance” will live here one day in advance. The new green praying flags fluttering in the wind, colored praying flags and other ornamentals hang all over the Rongbuk Monastery on that day. Tibetans coming to view the dance almost take with yak buttered tea and zanba. With the long sound of surnais and cymbals, monks in the Rongbuk Monastery will all immerse themselves in every gesture and dance. Almost in each cham dance, people will change to a new suit of color that completely differs from the last cham.

 

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