Rolwaling is considered by the locals to be a sacred valley. According to local lore, Rolwaling is a beyul, a "hidden valley" plowed out by the tantric saint Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche) 1200 years ago to serve as a sanctuary for dharma in a future time of intolerance. Rolwaling's special status has meant that Buddhist traditions are taken more seriously than elsewhere. Religious festivals are very frequent, and celebrated with great enthusiasm: not just with tantric rituals, but singing and dancing late into the night. Cultural conservatism has resulted in ecological conservation. Hunting and slaughter have never been acceptable and the forests, on the north-facing slopes especially, are essentially pristine and unimpacted. There are other factors that have combined to keep Rolwaling fresh. A particularly formidable pass separates Rolwaling from the Khumbu region. Also, as it is an east-west valley, Rolwaling was never involved in trade between India and China. It wasn't even discovered until the latter half of the 19th century. Even after most of Nepal was open to tourism, Rolwaling has until recently been saddled with restrictions that made independent trekking impossible. Gauri Shankar, the great peak to the north, is held to be the most sacred of mountains for the locals.