Smita Aggarwal visited Everest Basecamp - Nepal with Juniper in April 2019. In this article, Smita shares about her serene experience at the Tengboche Monastery
The Tengboche Monastery, at a height of 3,867 metres, is the largest gompha in the Khumbu region, the heartland of the Sherpa community, and a place where time stands still. The monastery was first built in 1916 by Lama Gulu. This place has been destroyed three times by earthquakes and fire, only to be rebuilt, retaining it’s old, other worldly appearance. When you walk into the compound, you get a sense of it being unchanged for the last 100 years.
Tengboche sits surrounded by the giants of the Solukhumbu, protected by Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, AmaDablam and Thamserku. These mountains seem to cradle it and will stand guard over the gompha for all eternity. You can almost feel the spirituality of the site as a physical entity.
It is customary for mountaineers to visit the monastery to light butter lamps and seek the Buddha’s blessings before attempting to summit Sagarmatha as Mount Everest is known in Nepal. The monastery is built in stone, with a large courtyard. As you enter the main building, the walls are covered with brightly coloured images of minor deities and demons. It takes a minute to adjust your eyes to the darkness of the prayer hall, and then you see a large statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. The statue extends to two floors of the monastery and encompasses the first floor shrine room. The Buddha is flanked by the Bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjushri, and Maitreya, the future Buddha.
We stopped for a while at the monastery, sitting at the feet of the Buddha. It was a peaceful moment for all of us, to sit quietly and contemplate the days to come, to seek the Lord’s blessings and to centre our thoughts.
A Tibetan monastery is a gentle place, which welcomes believers and non-believers alike.
You may be a Buddhist, adhering to all the practices and traditions of the religion, or you may follow the philosophy, and make the tenets of the faith a way of life, or you may simply be a visiting trekker, seeking a quiet moment of repose. The monastery shows you a glimpse of the beauty of Buddhism and is an embodiment of the path of compassion and wisdom, as shown to us by the Buddha Shakyamuni. Maintain a life of equanimity. All are welcome…stay as long as you please…or move on. The choice is yours.