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
How to Get to Rongbuk Monastery
On the road from Tingri County to the EBC, without any bus running through, Rongbuk Monastery can only be reached from Shegar Town (also known as New Tingri town) by private car for about 2 hours driving. To get to Rongbuk Monastery, your car has to climb over several mountains and cover the winding road.
Transfer to EBC from RongbukSince all private vehicles are not allowed to drive futher to the Base Camp from Rongbuk Monastery usually, and only to stop at the car park nearby the monastery. And transfer by mini-bus (eco-bus) to the the base camp. Also if you are in full of energy, make a 2-hour hiking up to the base camp is memorable trip. In the extremely cold weather, the eco-bus will stop running and private cars are permitted to run to EBC.
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.
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. Don’t forget to bring your own toilet requisites.
● 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.
More Mount Everest Travel Guide
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