Rolwaling

This is a story about a valley, secluded, hidden and one with a big spiritual significance for the local people and Tibetan Buddhism. It is blessed by many powerful buddhist masters, where the magnificent Gaurishankar Mountain (7145m) rest marking the border with Tibet. This narrow valley stretches for over thirty kilometres through forest, glaciers, rivers and snow capped peaks. It is situated approximately 180km Northeast of Kathmandu. In 1951 the British explorer Eric Shipton claimed that saw the Yeti next to the Menlung La Pass (5616m).

The valley is called Rolwaling which means “Furrow-Place”, as the buddhism religion claims “it was carved from the land with one stroke of buddhist saint Padmasambhava’s plow”1

The hospitable and gentle people of Rolwaling are a nomadic community, throughout the year mostly they settle between the two larger settlements, Beding (3600m) and Na(4200).

There is a path from the lowest to the highest part of the valley, which it is being rebuild nowadays as the earthquakes of 2015 damaged it. Woman and men have the same duties and earn the same salary. All work is done manually and there is no electricity available.

All along the valley path there are lodges for sleeping and eating. A typical Sherpa house is built of stone with sloped roofs usually made of wood. Traditionally families live in one big, open room with a kitchen, shrine and beds. The doors and windows are typically smaller with cold drafts very common due to gaps in the brickwork, where the walls meet the roof and around the windows.

There are taps for water in some homes but the majority of households must collect it from public taps. However, in winter, the average temperature is below 10 degrees which it freeze the water and block the taps. As result locals are forced to melt ice to be able to have water.

Wood burning fires are typically used for cooking. Nevertheless, in some parts of the valley due the altitude, trees don’t grow so the wood has to be carry from the lower parts of the valley.

During winter, as well, many of the local people will move to Kathmandu to stay with family during the harshest time. The ones with cattle have to stay to take care of them. This happened mainly in Beding (3600m), the higher village of Naa (4200m) which it receive significantly more snowfall than Beding forcing locals in the area to leave Naa around the beginning of December.

The insufficient amount of daylight during this time because of the narrowness of the valley and lower sun; no electricity available and the freezing water coming down from the mountains makes living conditions very harsh.
The mornings are generally sunny and dry, while moisture from the Tama Koshi river brings lower temperatures and persistent fog through the valley, giving a mystical ambience to the valley.

Rolwaling is blessed with many treasures, images of buddhas, bodhisattvas, scriptures, stupas, sacred mountains and other sacred items which are all along the valley. It is one of the meditation places of Guru Rinpoche, a key figure in the community. His meditation periods which are done in completely isolation which it could last months. He is a mentor, an adviser, a guru of anyone who is always willing to help anyone in the valley.