Graveled track helps make Nepal’s “Tiger’s Nest” accessible for motorists

Before the construction of the road track, reaching Chiwang Monastery would take around 3-hour-long uphill walk from Phaplu airport of Solukhumbu. Now, with the construction of 2.5 kilometres long graveled road, the century-old iconic monastery perched on the beautiful hills of Solukhumbu district that gets snowcapped in snowing months, is accessible for motorists.

”Three-hour-long walking time has reduced to around half-an-hour-ride from Phaplu,” informed the Lama of the monastery Ngawang Shemphen Sherpa, who is associated with the monastery since 2005. He added, ”Donations, labor contribution from locals, support from parliamentary development fund of Provincial Assembly member of Province 1, Buddhi Kumar Rajbhandari helped make this graveled road.” The Rs 2.15 million budget of the gravelling works included one million from Parliament Development Fund of Buddhi Kumar Rajbhandari, 550 thousand from the monastery, 400 thousand from ward office and 200 thousand from locals.

The road track was first opened in 2016 by financial and technical support of PG Sherpa-led Beni Hydropower Project of Solukhumbu. After four years, the gravelling was carried out during lockdown time of 2020. The graveled road has reduced the cost of construction materials also, informed the Lama who is overseeing the ongoing construction of the new hostel building for 20 residential students with the budget of Rs 20 million. He said, ”Previously, a sack of cement would cost Rs. 2,200 to reach at the monastery. Now, this has reduced to Rs. 1,050.” Located at an altitude of 9000 feet from the sea level, the monastery has 7000 Ropanis of land and currently 36 people, including monastery staff and students are residing at the monastery.

Sangey Lama officially founded the monastery in 1923 during the premiership of Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shumser. Sangey, locals said, had close rapport with ruling Ranas at that time. The monastery, which is also referred to Nepal’s equivalent of Bhutan’s iconic “Tiger’s Nest”, is also a famed travelling point in Solukhumbu district. ”In pre-pandemic time, around two dozens of visitors would frequent this monastery. However, after pandemic, it is closed for uninvited visitors,” said the Lama.

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