Rongbuk Monastery - The Highest Monastery in the World
Rongbuk Monastery is the highest temple in the world above sea level, with an altitude of about 4980 meters. Situated in the north side of Mt. Everest, it is a perfect site to view the highest Everest and stay overnight before head to the Everest Base Camp (EBC) with 8 km away. Endowing the ideal location, Rongbuk Monastery itself is also worth visit. As one of the Nyingmapa Sect monastery built in 1899, it houses both monks and nuns here, which is quite special and different from other temples. Only several buildings remains, Rongbuk is simply and has a sense of untouched beauty not only for its quietness, but also the experienced history as a temple to witness the first person to conquer the Mount Everest. Acted as a rest site for climbers once upon a time, now it also does a favor for tourists to visit around before get to EBC.
Rongbuk Monastery Facts
- Summer & Autumn
- Religious Site
- 4,980 meters
- At the foot of Mt. Everest
Rongbuk Monastery Background
Rongbuk Monastery was initially built in 1899 and made a reconstruction in 1902 for a large scale extended subordinate temples to Nepal and once there were about 500 monks and nuns lived. With a severe destruction, there are only some small temples and a nunnery left. Leaning on the mountain side with over 100 years, this monastery seems a little bit dilapidated with several small buildings left and the stupa, standing prominently as a landmark in the scene of tourist photography along with the Mount Everest.
Unlike other incense-filled temples in Tibet, Rongbuk Monastery is seldom for a special visit and often skipped by most tourists with some unrepaired walls and steps. On the other hand, thanks to the high location, it is far away from the bustling activity and over-commercialized scene. Standing as a single architecture here, it likes a natural background along with the Mt. Everest.
Rongbuk Monastery Highlights
Rongbuk kept the original landform of simply multiple-layers building and a courtyard in the center. After the severe destruction, some buildings still survived luckily. Unlike those grand buildings in monasteries of Lhasa City, these buildings are not magnificent but plain and small. Nevertheless, Rongbuk Monastery is a monastery worthy of your visit. In the middle red building, there are two doors. Climbing the steps in front of the left door and entering the hall, you will see the walls with superb murals painted. They are old but exquisite. Climbing steps up to the second floor, there are two halls – the outside one for monks and nuns to chant sutras every single day and the inside one housing a big statue of Padmasambhava. It is said that Padmasambhava once practiced here. Walk further along the road to EBC, you can see a pool with hot spring, and lengedn has it that this water was used by Padmasambhava.
Mt. Everest Observation Deck
For those who want to get to the Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery is a ideal place to pass by and make a stop to view Mt. Everest. You could also take very nice photos from the Observation Deck. By standing the monastery and facing south, the Everest is like a giant white pyramid with magnificent summit coming out, making a perfect match with the white stupa in Rongbuk Monastery. The hill nearby the temple is an ideal shooting site to take a stunning picture of Everest and meet the peculiar flag clouds and golden summit with sunrise or sunset, especially in the days with clear sunny weather. Best months include April, May, September, and October.
Tibetan Festival Performances
Each year during the April 15th of Tibetan calendar, there is a big dancing ceremony held in the courtyard of Rongbuk Monastery, called Saka Dawa Festival to celebrate the birth of Sakyamuni. Decorated with prayer flags and colorful ornaments, the monastery will welcome the Tibetans from nearby regions to view this performance. The monks disguise themselves and portray different characters by dressing in different clothing to perform the Tibetan dances. This festival will last for three days, quiet Rongbuk Monastery will become quite lively and busy in this time.
How to Get to Rongbuk Monastery
Since there is no public coach running to Rongbuk Monastery, it can only be reached by private driving or hiking. Usually, it needs to drive about 2 hours from Segar Town (also known as New Tingri Town) and 7 hours from Shigatse. On the driving journey to Rongbuk Monastery, you will climb over several mountains and cover many winding road. The drive is long but the scenery is amazing.
Make a Transfer in Parking Lot
In order to protect the eco-environment of Mount Everest, the vehicles and buses are not permitted to enter Everest Scenic Area and can only escort the travelers to the Parking Lot which is about 20km away from Rongbuk Monastery. There are scenic park buses, energized by electricity, to take travelers to Rongbuk Monastery instead. The driving from the Parking Lot to Rongbuk Monastery takes about 30 minutes usually.
(shared by our customer Qian from Singapore)
Useful Travel Tips
● Must Documents: Apart from Chinese Visa, there are several documents you have to prepare. Tibet Travel Permit is an indispensable document for all foreigner tourists who want to travel to Tibet. Besides, Alien Travel Permit and Boarder Permit are also essential documents to travel to Everest area, including Rongbuk Monastery. Usually, applying these permits takes 15~20 days and they can only be applied by travel agency on behalf of travelers.
● Best Seasons: The temperature in Rongbuk Monastery is rather low, especially at night. The best seasons to visit include April and May, along with early September and late October, among which less than 20 days are actually fine to enjoy the most beautiful landscape.
● Accommodation: There is a hostel called Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse nearby Rongbuk where offers some rooms without independent washingroom. There are available electric blankets now and you can sleep in a warm room. During May ~ October, there are many tents set up and operated by Tibetan nomads near Rongbuk Monastery as well for your choice.
● Restaurant: There is only one available restaurant in Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse providing limited food and drinks. You are suggested buy some food supply before going to Mount Everest.
How to Plan A Tibet Tour
Tibet is too vast to be visited in one single trip, but planning ahead of time can make most of your holiday. A classic Tibet tour always takes about 4 ~ 8 days. Apart from 2 days for arrival and departure, it usually needs 2 other days to explore majestic Potala Palace and other landmarks in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. With a day trip’s distance from Lhasa, Namtso Lake is another perfect tour extension if you visit Tibet from May to October.
To explore further, it’s strongly recommended to travel from Lhasa to Mount Everest via Gyantse and Shigatse, which usually needs 4 more days. It is an unforgettable sightseeing trip with lots of attractions to visit, such as Yamdrok Lake, Karola Glacier, Kumbum Stupa of Palcho Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, etc. Of course, the biggest draw must be gazing upon the unparalleled north face of the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest.
For Buddhist followers and hiking lovers, you are suggested to travel to Ngari to join the kora around the holy Mt. Kailash and sacred Lake Manasarovar, which usually takes about 5 ~ 8 more days from Lhasa. The wild nature of Ngari is spectacular as well.
If you have your own needs or interest, just feel free to contact us to customize a trip of your own!
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