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Serang Gompa on the Manaslu Circuit Trek

Serang Monastery, which is also known as Nubri Monastery, is a significant Buddhist sanctuary that is located on the southern slopes of the Himalayas at the border of Nepal and Tibet. This historic monastery is located inside the Kyimolung Beyul and is also referred to as the ‘Valley of Happiness’ and ‘Valley of Peace’. The valley was prophesied as a Beyul by Guru Padma Sambhva in the 8th century. Serang Monastery is the central monastery in Kyimolung Beyul out of 12 outlying monasteries in the region.  As this peaceful Gompa has a prestigious reputation for high-caliber Dharma education, the monks and nuns from all around 12 outlying monasteries come to take lessons at the Serang Shedra (Scripture College). Even for the rituals and ceremonies, the Nepali residents seek out the Nubri monks and nuns as they have great confidence and understand the significance of the Serang/ Nubri Community.

Serang Gompa is located on the northern side of the Gorkha district and is situated north of the Buddha Himal, Hiunchuli, and on the lap of Shringi Himal. The majestic peaks of Ganesh Himal stretch on the west side and Manaslu on the east, making it a truly marvelous bowl valley surrounded by majestic peaks. Serang Gompa accommodates more than 100 monks and nuns who have dedicated their lives to the teaching of Buddhism. These monks and nuns are known as the ultimate example of discipline, determination, and dedication. This Gompa is far away from the cities and towns; they are very respectful and only practice the teaching of Dharma.

The Serang Gompa is one of the most significant gompas in the Kyimolung Beyul, and there are several meditating caves around the valley. It is believed that Jetsun Milarepa, one of the prominent Buddhist gurus, visited this valley and meditated in a cave. Milarepa, who was a student of Marpa Lotsawa, visited the Piren Phu Cave in the Beyul during the 11th century and left his footprint on a stone. This site is visited by thousands of Buddhist pilgrims all over the world every year.

Serang Gompa / Monastry

History of Serang Gompa

Approximately 500 years ago, the first-ever Lama came to Nepal from Kham in eastern Tibet with his three sons. All three sons of Lama possessed power over five elements and were known as Druptobs. Each of the sons of Lama had their own unique gift; the first son, Dorje Dudul, could carry water in a loosely woven cane basket. Nam Kha Cho Ched, the second son could ram a dagger into a rock boulder effortlessly. Finally, the third son, Nyime Cho Kyi Gyaltsen, could fry rice on a piece of paper. When people of the valley made a request to the Lama father to let one of his sons become their Lama, he sent his youngest son, Nyime Cho Kyi Gyaltsen.

At that time, in the Kyimolung Beyul, there was a charnel ground where villagers who went near it were outright killed or disappeared out of sight. The villagers left the young son of Lama for three days, and when they returned after three days, the villagers started looking for Nyime Cho Kyi Gyaltsen. When the residents of the valley were about to draw the conclusion that the Lama’s son had also disappeared, they found him meditating and glowing with power. The residents of Kyimolung Beyul then acknowledged his remarkable feat and accepted him as their Lama.

Near the charnel ground there is a cave where the young Lama completed his three-year meditation after officially getting recognized as the village’s Lama. The cave is about 15 15-minute walk from the village, and he built the original Nupri Gompa at the part which was about a day’s walk in the mountain. Serang Gompa/ Nupri Gompa, at the time Nyime Cho Kyi Gyaltsen built it, was built around barren and dry land. However, after the monastery was erected, the grass started to grow around the region, and after a while, trees started taking over the landscape. Now, this significant religious landmark is surrounded by lush woodland.

The title of Nubri Lama was passed down from father to son for generations over 500 years, and after the death of the 11th Nubri Lama, Ch Kyi Nyima, in 2006, the family lineage ended. After the death of the 11th Nubri Lama, Karma Tulku took responsibility for the monastery. However, the monks, nuns, and local community desired the monastery to be under the spiritual guidance of the 4th Dodrup Chen Rinpoche. So, the local leaders visited Rinpoche in Sikkim and formally requested him to be the leader of the Serang Gompa, and now the monastery is officially the branch of Rinpcohe’s Chorten Gompa Monastery.

Kyimolung Beyul

Over a thousand years ago, Padma Sambhava, more popularly known as Guru Rinpoche, visited the Himalayas and sought out havens to practice the teachings of Buddhism. During his visit to the Himalayas, he practiced mediation extensively at these sites and blessed the regions with his profound accomplishments. It is believed that he founded 108 Beyuls in the Himalayas during his visit in the 8th century. Thus, Beyuls came to be known as the hidden valley in the Himalayas, secluded from the world to process Buddhism and its practitioners during times of crisis. The 108 Beyuls across the Himalayas stretch over four countries: Nepal, Tibet (China), India, and Bhutan.

Guru Rinpoche established 5 of the Beyuls in the Nepali Himalayas during this journey. These Beyuls are Kyimolung Beyul in Gorkha, Khumbu Beyul in Solukhumbu, Yolmo and Nagmo Beyul in Rasuwa and Khempalung Beyul in Sankhuwasabha. Serang Gompa, which is located in the Serang/ Nubri Valley, falls under the Kyimolung Beyul. It is believed that these Beyuls are guarded by the Mahaguru himself, and he keeps the locales pure of heart and soul who live inside these sacred spaces. Beyuls keep the sacred environment hidden for generations until the right time when it is truly needed to keep the Buddhist teachings and traditions protected. The spiritual qualities of such a sacred space are accessible by a qualified practitioner who can open a safe haven under the guidance of Guru Rinpoche himself.

In order to open the Beyul, the practitioner should perform special rituals on an auspicious day. Once the Beyul has been opened, the practitioner is believed to receive further guidance from Guru Rinpoche to understand the sacred features of the hidden valley. Visiting the sacred space blessed by the Mahaguru is said to enable the practitioner to receive the blessing of the Beyul. Nubri/ Serang Gompa is situated in such an auspicious and sacred region, which has elevated its significance even more.

Serang Monastry Area

Life in Serang Gompa

The Serang Gompa community has more than a hundred monks and nuns in equal numbers. These monks and nuns who follow the teachings of Buddhism receive food, shelter, health care, and education at the Gompa. Serang Gompa/ Nubri Gompa is small and surrounded by rocky landscapes and mountains. Due to its remoteness, the Gompa isn’t easily accessible and takes multiple days of trekking. The only way to transport the required food and goods to the gompa is with the help of yak, mules, and porters.

As the region itself is poor, the Gompa struggles with financial difficulties. It takes approximately US$ 40,000 to run the Gompa, just fulfilling the basic needs. So, the cost per head for the monks and nuns in the Gompa that are above a hundred in number is approximately around US$ 400 per person. The winter season is long, and the crops can be harvested only once a year in such a high-altitude region. The community is dedicated to the teaching of Buddhism; however, due to remoteness, the local people are no longer able to independently support the monastery and need help from outside. There is no electricity or running water in the monastery thus, only the most dedicated practitioners have stayed in the monastery, learning the way of spirituality.

Originally, the 11th Nubri Lama had intended to keep the monastery small, but the 4th Dodrup Chen Rinpoche, the spiritual head of Serang Gompa, decided to provide shelter to those who were motivated for Dharma. According to him, in this degenerate age, anyone who comes to Serang Monastery to practice the teaching of Buddhism should be accepted. One of the beautiful things about Serang Gompa/ Nubri Gompa is the hierarchies that exist in the general traditional monasteries, which limit the nuns to specific roles that are not practiced here. Both monks and nuns are given equal opportunities at the monastery; nuns can read, write, make ritual objects and conduct the ceremonies like any monks. The nuns make up exactly half of the total population in the monastery.

Cooking food at Serang Gompa

Villages in Serang/ Nubri Valley

The Nubri Valley is famous among the Buddhist communities for being the purest location to learn the teachings of Dharma. This valley was closed to tourists until 1991 and was declared a conservation area by the Nepali government in 1998. As a part of the Manaslu Conservation Area (MCA), this has become one of the popular trekking destinations in the west-central part of the Himalayan region. This valley is close to the Tibetan border, and people here still follow the ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture and traditions. After crossing the Ghap Village, the area of this spiritual valley starts, and the first village on the trail is Lihi Village, which has several mani walls and a kani gate. There is a beautiful Gompa in this village, Mani Dungyur Monastery, which has several copper gold plated images.

As you move along the track, in the next part, the trail leads to Manaslu Base Camp and Lakya Pass, which descend to lower land. There are several mani walls, kani gates, and ancient monasteries on the trailside as it stretches to Sama Gaon, the biggest village of Nubri Valley and Manaslu region. Besides the Hemika of the Stupa, which looks in all four directions, Pungyen Gompa is one of the important pilgrimage sites in the Serang/Nubri Valley. The mountain the world refers to as Mt. Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world, natives refer to it as Pungyen Mountain. Samdo Village, which is located under the foot of the Larkya La Pass on the Nepal and Tibet border, is the last village of this valley.

Shayagya Tradition in Kyimolung Beyul

The Nubri Valley, along with Kutang Valley and Tsum Valley, are part of this Kyimolung Beyul all of these valleys are hugely influenced by the Shayagya Traditions that started in Tsum Valley. The Tsum Valley, which is the reason behind this Byeul being called the Valley of Peace and Valley of Happiness, made the declaration as a non-violent area in 1920. The inhabitants of Tsum declared no harm to nature and animals in the valley, adhering to the teachings of Buddhism. It all began when a hunter and his dog were chasing a deer and the deer entered the monastery where a Lama was meditating.

The Lama then provided insights into the animal’s intelligence and the teachings of Buddhism, which vows not to hurt any living form. As a result, the hunter vowed never to hurt animals again; that was the origin story of the Shayagya Tradition, and it slowly spread across the valley. So, slowly, everyone started embracing the non-violent lifestyle, and later, the inhabitants of the whole valley committed to the Shayagya Tradition. There are basically six principles of the Shayagya Tradition that the practitioners should adhere to:

  • No hunting of any animals
  • No setting traps for animals
  • No selling of domestic animals for eating
  • No collecting honey
  • No setting fire in the forest
  • No killing of any living organism
Tea House At Serang Monastry Trek

Trekking in Serang/ Nubri Valley

The Manaslu region is one of the best off-beaten trekking regions in the Nepali Himalayas. This off-beaten trail in the region will take you across the sacred valley, ancient settlements, and wilderness landscapes untouched by modernization. If you want to explore this sacred Kyimolung Beyul, Manaslu Circuit Trek is the most ideal option, and if you want to extend your stay and take your journey to the core of the Valley of Peace, Tsum Valley Trek is an ideal extension. The average duration of the Manaslu Circuit Trek is about 12 days, and the extension version of exploration with a trek to Tsum Valley will last about 19 days. During your trek, you will start your exploration from Machha Khola (870 meters), which is the most standard starting point for adventures in the Manaslu region.

Then, gradually following the inclining route, you will traverse across the beautiful settlements of Jagat (1,340 meters), Lokpa (2,240 meters), Dumje (2,460 meters), Nile Chule (3,360 meters) and MU Gompa (3,710 meters). Then, exploring Rachen Gompa (3,240 meters), the trail stretches across Chumling (3,285 meters), Deng (1,860 meters), Namrung (2,360 meters), and Lho (3,180 meters) in the main route. After that, the trekking trail heads toward the higher elevation of the circuit route across Sama Gaon (3,500 meters), Samdo (3,860 meters), and Dharamsala (4,480 meters) before crossing the highest point of the trek Larke La Pass (5,213 meters) to reach Bimtang (3,720 meters). Crossing the pass will mark the end of the Manaslu Circuit Trek, and the trek to Tilje (2,300 meters) will follow the drive back to Kathmandu across  Besisahar (1,430 meters).

Trekking Serang Gompa

Manaslu Circuit Trek With Serang Gompa Itinerary

  • Day 1: Drive From Kathmandu to Machha Khola –(930m/3051 ft) 8-10 Hrs Drive
  • Day 2: Trek from Machha Khola to Jagat – (1410m/4625 ft) 5-6 Hrs Trek
  • Day 3: Trek from Jagat to Deng – (1800m/5905 ft) 6-7 Hrs Trek
  • Day 4: Trek from Deng to Krayak and same day explore a local village – (2290 m/7513 ft) 4-5 hrs Trek
  • Day 5: Trek from Krayak to Serang Gompa (Stay at Monastery) (3042 m/9980 ft) 4-5 hrs
  • Day 6: Leisure day in Serang Gompa (3042 m/9980 ft)
  • Day 7: Trek from Serang Gompa to Ghap (2160 m/ 7087 ft) 6-7 hrs
  • Day 8: Trek from Ghap to Lho Gaon (3180 m/ 10433 ft) 5-6 hrs
  • Day 9: Trek from Lho to Sama Gaun – (3530 m/11581 ft) 5-7 Hrs
  • Day 10: Hike (Manaslu Base camp 4800 m/15746 ft) and Acclimatization Day at Sama Gaun – (3530 m/11581 ft) 5-7 Hrs Hike
  • Day 11: Trek from Sama Gaun to Samdo – (3690m/12106 ft) 3-4 Hrs Trek
  • Day 12: Trek from Samdo to Dharamsala – (4470m/14665 ft)  4-5 Hrs Trek
  • Day 13: Trek from Darmasala to Larkya La Pass (5106m/16752 ft) to Bhimthang (3720m/ 12204 ft) 7-9 Hrs Trek
  • Day 14: Trek from Bhimthang to Dharapani (1860m/6102 ft) 6-7 Hrs Trek
  • Day 15: Drive to Beshisahar by local Jeep from Dharapani and drive to Kathmandu (1360 m/4462 ft)  9-11 Hrs Drive

This is the standard Manaslu Circuit with serang Gompa 15 Days Itinerary, You can costumize this itinerary according to your need, budget and time during your trekking in nepal.

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