Rongbuk monastery lies by the foot of the Rongbuk Glacier at 5,100 metres (16,700 ft) above sea level, making it the highest religious building, as well as one of the highest-elevation settlements and overall structures ever built and colonized. It is only 200 metres (660 ft) lower than the north side Everest Base Camp of Mount Everest. The monastery is accessible today via vehicle by means of an undeveloped road. Prior to this, explorers such as George Mallory and Sandy Irvine had to walk for five weeks from Darjeeling, in the Indian foothills of the Himalaya, to reach this location.The Rongbuk Monastery itself was founded in 1902 by a Nyingmapa Lama in an area of meditation huts that had been in use by monks and hermits for over 400 years. Hermitage meditation caves dot the cliff walls all around the monastery complex and up and down the valley. Many walls and stones, carved with sacred syllables and prayers, line the paths.
© Ramdas Iyer Photography