Sherpa Village Khumjung
The village of Khumjung is not directly on the main trail to the most popular trekking destinations, but to the devout Tibetan Buddhists in the region it is considered a focal point for their faith and it has been a great beneficiary of the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation. It is said that the valley was once a lake but the water broke long ago, and Tibetans moved into the area over 300 years ago. Khumjung sits in a high valley that is a steep hike of over an hour above the shopping mecca of Namche and is at the base of the holy mountain, Khumbila. Khumjung is much more traditional in contrast to the more modern and touristy hub of Namche to the south. Surround the valley further are the snowy peaks of Kongde and Thamserku, and the famous Everest View hotel is tucked away discretely around a hill to the south. Khumjung hosts a well-known "Gomba" or monastery that houses what may be a yeti scalp. It remains from a deceased yeti that was befriended by a Lama centuries ago. Another set of busy and colorful monasteries, lined with prayer wheels and prayer flags, are braced along the slopes high above the village.
The primary and secondary school known as the Hillary school in Khumjung was established in 1960. Children from the surrounding villages are welcomed and there is space for 500 students. There are hostel facilities for some of the children, but many of them have to walk hours each way (and make imposing climbs) to attend school. The school courtyard is a great open space where the teachers and students line up in the mornings for muster and enjoy playing games later in the day. In the adjoining sister village of Khunde to the west there is also the Khunde, also established and supported by the Hillary Foundation. The village holds a weekly market on Thursdays as a precursor to the great Saturday bazaar below in Namche. Khumjung also happens to be the home of our favorite friend and Sherpa guide Pema Dorje Sherpa and his wife Mingma. Pema and Minga run a lodge there, the Gomba Lodge, where he has also outfitted his own private Buddhist chapel inside. Pema takes great pride in his efforts and it is a popular place for the monks to spend time to pray and meditate.