Sherpa Heritage House

Heritage Issue 124 Mar, 2012
Text by Niraj Karki

An ancestral house in Khumjung is set to be a living museum dedicated to the culture and lifestyle of the Sherpa people. 

Among the many trekking routes that start from Pokhara, there is one named the Royal Trek – aptly named for it was a route tailored for HRH Prince Charles on his first trek to Nepal. His guide then was Pertemba Sherpa, who among his many accomplishments has climbed Everest three times including the first ascent of Everest by Doug Scott led by Sir Chris Bonington.

That ascent, a page already woven into history has only been the start of a story greater, a story about mountains, its people, their ways of life, a story of friendship and compassion. Both Sir Chris Bonnington and Doug Scott have since dedicated great effort into helping the people of Nepal. One of their recent endeavours is the Sherpa Heritage House, an effort started by Pertemba Sherpa in 2006 to preserve the culture and heritage of the Sherpas, in a fast changing world and educate the younger generations about their old ways of living. 

The committee running the project for the heritage house is headed by its President Prince Charles, Pertemba Sherpa, Chris Bonnigton the patron, Doug Scott, and Maggie Burgess who has been working extensively helping the people who are suffering from leprosy in Nepal. The project has so far had fund raisings done in London over a fund raising dinner as well as a charity trek to the Everest Base Camp in October 2010. 

Pertemba Sherpa has donated his ancestral home, which is at present the oldest house in Khumjung, older even than most of the monasteries in the area and the last historic one, unlike most others that have been converted into modern homes. The house is built in the traditional Sherpa style using slate and stone with carved doors, windows and furniture. The house comprises two wings joined at right angles to each other – the living wing for accommodation and the religious wing for prayers also housing statues, sacred texts and Buddhist emblems.

With a working fund of over £80,000, the project is under way and promises to be a great step towards the preservation of the ancient Sherpa ways. Built to be a living museum, the house reflects the old Sherpa lifestyle reflecting the connection of the Sherpa people, their livestock, their religion and the mountains.

While the renovation of the heritage house is close to completion, a coffee shop just next to the heritage house has already been built. All proceeds from the coffee shop will go to the maintenance of the heritage house.

The best way to get to the Sherpa Heritage is to fly to Lukla and then trek to Namche Bazaar, walk up past the Syangboche Airstrip and arrive at Khumjung Village. The walk from Lukla to Namche Bazaar is about 7 Hours and from Namche Bazaar to Khumjung is about 3 - 4 hours.