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. 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 severe 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.
At present there are 60 monks within the Tengboche Monastic community and it is expected to increase. This number is quite high as in 1993 there were only around 30 monks. This perhaps reflects an increase in the availability of funds to support the monks.