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Home Asia Tibet Rongbuk monastery
Rongbuk monastery E-mail
Asia - Tibet
12 July 2010

The word Tibet, formed in Rongpu monastery's inner courtyard fence shows their national pride

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Rongpu or Rongbuk monastery lies at the foot of the Rongbuk glacier at 5,100 meters altitude and is thus the highest religious building in the world, being only 200 metres lower than the northern Everest Base Camp of the Mt. Everest. One of the first British explorers that was to see the peak of the Mount Everest from here described the sight: "Some colossal architect, who built with peaks and valleys, seemed here to have wrought a dramatic prodigy — a hall of grandeur that led to the mountain."

The Rongbuk monastery was founded in 1902 in an area that had been in use for meditation by monks for over 400 years. However it was completely destroyed in 1974 and left in ruins for a couple of years, but since 1983 restauration works have been carried out quite succesfully. We only found a nun and a some kind of a housekeeper present, but there seem to be around 20-30 monks living here, although there used to be some 500 in better days.

We had to almost force our guide to stop here and pay it a visit. It was in our program, but somehow he always tried to skip things and when we asked Denter (our guide) for this or that, he acted surprised that he had not noticed it in the program the evening before when he 'had been preparing next day's program'.

After a visit to the monastery we went back the way we came here, some 90 kilometres of gravel road, which took about 2 or 3 hours. Considering the fact that in the old days explorers had to walk for 5 to 6 weeks from Darjeeling in India to get here, it was not all that bad... The scenery was obviously still spectacular, but not as much as the first time we'd seen it. We crossed an enormous plateau with vast emptiness and another high pass over 5,000 metres, before descending in the green hell, as it is called in Tibetan, towards Zhangmu on the border with Nepal!