Pema Namding Monastery in Kharikhola

Opened in April 2008, the Pema Namding Monastery stands as testimony to the strong yearning of the residents of Kharikhola to have their own monastery. The project of building the Nyingma Tibetan Buddhist monastery in this remote village in the Solu Khumbu District of the Sagarmatha Zone of Nepal, was supported by Tulku Ngawang Jigdral Rinpoche, with the arduous work being carried out by local villagers as a sign of their faith and devotion. The project covered a time period of exactly three years, three months and three days, which is seen as significant as this is the traditional period for the Nyingma School of Buddhism’s meditational retreats.

At the opening of the Pema Namding Monastery on 17 April 2007, it was given its name, meaning “Lotus Bud in the Middle of the Space”, by H.H.Trulshik Rinpoche, who was the current head lama of the Nyingma tradition at the time. The inauguration ceremony was also attended by H.E. Khenchen Rigzin Dorje Rinpoche, who personally led the puja to bless the new Dharma site. The Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is the oldest of the four main schools of this ancient religion, and was founded on the very first translations from Sanskrit into Tibetan of the Buddhist scriptures, which took place in the eighth century. In fact the name “Nyingma” can be literally translated as “ancient”, and this school of Tibetan Buddhism is often referred to as “Nha’gyur”, meaning “old school”.

A flight of 108 steps leads to the monastery which is perched on the top of a hill, offering stunning views of the surrounding valleys. While the main purpose of the Pema Namding Monastery is to be used as a place of worship, it is also the venue for social activities and festivals. Under the guidance of Tulku Ngawang Jigdral Rinpoche, the first fifteen young monks to enter the monastery for studies came from families of local farmers. Also referred to as lamas, the young students are aged between 13 and 19 years of age, and once they have completed their studies at the Pema Namding Monastery they hope to pursue higher education at more established institutes of Buddhist education. It is also the aim of the monastery to attract experienced Dharma teachers to impart their knowledge to the students, all with the aim of preserving the teachings and traditions of the Nyingmapa Tibetan Buddhists in this region of Nepal.