Tengboche Monastery Development Project
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Welcome - Tashidelik - Namaste

Introduction

Tengboche is an important Buddhist monastery in the mountains of the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal. It is in the Khumbu region of northeast Nepal, the home of the Sherpas. Tengboche is famous because of its spectacular and unique location. It lies on the main route to the Base Camp of Mount Everest and offers the first clear views of the highest mountain in the world. Tengboche became known to the world after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzin Norgay Sherpa made the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. A lot has changed since those days when Tengboche was remote and inaccessible. Today over 30,000 people come ever year to enjoy the beauty of Tengboche and splendor of the mountains.

Tengboche monastery is an important part of Nepal's heritage. Mt. Everest [8,848m] which is known as Sagarmatha in Nepali [Chomolungma in Tibetan] gives its name to the National Park in which Tengboche is located. The Sagarmatha National Park extends over 1148 sq. km and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site of "outstanding universal value". Most visitors walk to Tengboche by way of Namche Bazaar. The trek takes 14 days from Jiri or 3 days from the airstrip at Lukla. Tengboche lies on a ridge at an altitude of 3,867 meters [12,700 feet]. From Tengboche there are spectacular views of some of the world's highest mountains including Ama Dablam [6,812m], Nuptse [7,855m] Lhotse [8,516m], Tamserku [6,623m] and Kantega [6,779m] as well as the many others that form one of the most impressive range of Snow Mountains anywhere. The ice walls of these mountains dominate the landscape and avalanches can frequently be heard rumbling high up the glaciers.

It is against Buddhist belief to kill anything and because of this tradition of peace and compassion, Tengboche is a refuge for wildlife. In the quiet of the ancient forests surrounding Tengboche, the national bird of Nepal, the iridescent Dhaphe [Impeyan pheasant] can frequently be seen. Huge vultures dominate the skies above. Yellow billed choughs and black ravens play on the winds. These wild high places are also inhabited by the tahr and goral, both rare species of wild goat-antelope, as well as the endangered musk deer. In addition there are many rare kinds of medicinal plants and sweet smelling incense scrubs. Tall rhododendron forest of many different species and colors adorn the landscape in spring. Rocks are carved with prayers and bright flags hung in high places carry prayers of compassion skywards.

The Tengboche monastery was established in its present site by Lama Gulu in 1916 and has strong ties with the Rongbuk monastery in Tibet. Although there are older village monasteries in the area Tengboche was the first celibate monastery and follows the Nyingmapa lineage of the Vajrayana Buddhist teachings.

Tengboche has been destroyed and rebuilt twice. In 1934 an earthquake caused servere damage and on the 19th January 1989 the monastery burnt to the ground. The fire was so intense that nothing of worth could be recovered. Most of the monastery's precious old scriptures, statues, murals and woodcarvings were lost. Even the famous stone in which Lama Sangwa Dorje left a foot print cracked in the tremendous heat.

Today Tengboche Monastery stands again rebuilt by local craftsmen, the monks and Sherpa community with help from the Sir Hillary and the Himalayan Trust, the American Himalayan Heritage Foundation and many international well-wishers. Only the upper rooms remain unfinished. This huge project depleted the monastery's financial resources. In the effort to rebuild the monastery everything else had to be left. It is only in the last few years that Tengboche has been able to look to the surrounding environment and the impact that tourism is having on this once remote and peaceful place.

In September 1993, the consecration and inauguration ceremony of the rebuilt monastery was performed by His Holiness Trulshik Rinpoche and attended by the Prime Minister, Ministers, Ambassadors, Sir Edmund Hillary and hundreds of other distinguished guests and community leaders. On this occasion the Abbot of the monastery, known as Tengboche Rinpoche, requested help in managing the huge influx of tourists to Tengboche and the environmental problems ensuing, in particular the lack of a clean, reliable water supply.

In response to this request and in close collaboration with the Abbot, Mr. Michael Schmitz [M.Sc.Econ.,M.A.Arch.,Dip.Dev.Planner] undertook the research, writing and implementation of a development plan to alleviate the most critical problems affecting the Tengboche environment.

This web page is part of that project and it is hoped that it will inspire others to undertake similar preservation and protection projects so that the world's rich Heritage can be enjoyed by our future generations. For as to quote The Dalai Lama

"As the world grows smaller and smaller, more interdependent, today more so than ever before life must be characterized by a sense of universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human but also human to other forms of life."

It is hoped the activities of the Tengboche Development Project may contribute to this.

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