Mustang – Hidden Lo Kingdom of Nepal

Mustang was once an independent kingdom, although closely tied by language and culture to Tibet. From the 15th century to the 17th century, its strategic location granted Mustang control over the trade between the Himalayas and India. At the end of the 18th century the kingdom was annexed by Nepal and became a dependency of the Kingdom of Nepal since 1795.Kingdom of Lo Manthang supported Tibet and the Qing Empire during the Sino-Nepalese War.

Though still recognized by many Mustang residents, the monarchy ceased to exist on October 7, 2008, by order of the Government of Nepal. The last official and later unofficial king (raja or gyelpo) was Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista (1930–2016), who traced his lineage directly back to Ame Pal, the warrior who founded this Buddhist kingdom in 1380. Ame Pal oversaw the founding and building of much of the Lo and Mustang capital of Lo Manthang, a walled city that has changed little in appearance since that time period.

Upper Mustang (formerly Kingdom of Lo) is an upper part (Northern area) of Mustang District, which is located in Nepal. The Upper Mustang was a restricted kingdom and demilitarized area until 1992 which makes it one of the most preserved regions in the world, with a majority of the population still speaking traditional Tibetan languages. Tibetan culture has been preserved by the relative isolation of the region from the outside world. Life in Mustang revolves around tourism, animal husbandry and trade. The Upper Mustang comprise the northern two-thirds of Mustang District of Gandaki Province, Nepal. It consists of three rural municipalities namely Lo Manthang, Dalome, and Baragung Muktikshetra.

The southern third (lower Mustang) of the district is called Thak and is the homeland of the Thakali, who speak the Thakali language, and whose culture combines Tibetan and Nepalese elements. Mustang’s status as a kingdom ended in 2008 when its suzerain Kingdom of Nepal became a republic.

Foreign visitors have been allowed to the region since 1992, but tourism to Upper Mustang is regulated. Foreigners need to obtain a special permit to enter, costing US$50 per day per person. Most tourists travel by foot over largely the same trade route used in the 15th century. Mustang is rich in Buddhist culture, similar to the area of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. It is an alternate way to experience the Tibetan culture and landscape to the tours provided by the Chinese government. The Tiji festival in Lo-Manthang is another popular destination for tourists in the area seeking to experience the native culture.

The first westerner in Mustang was Toni Hagen, Swiss explorer and geologist, who visited the Kingdom in 1952 during one of his travels across the Himalayas. French Michel Peissel is considered the first westerner to stay in Lo Manthang, during the first authorized exploration of Mustang in 1964.

According to history and Locals from Lho Kingdom (Upper Mustang) , There were four re-treat complexes which are now as meditation caves or re-treat centers as Ganden ling , Puntsog Ling , Ritse ling and Konchok ling in Inner Mustang, among them some are in good condition and restored as monasteries, some of these re-treat sites (caves) has only significant sign inside due to soil erosion .Those places are dated more than 500 years, Puntsog ling is the most damaged externally by climate change and human activities. Konchok Ling cave is on steep part and need rope to climb up there.

Major attraction of Upper Mustang:

1) Kaligandaki gorge – river and Shaligram shila ( fossils of ammonite shells on stone)
2) Muktinath Temple
3) Kagbeni – Temple, red monastery (Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling Monastery )
4) Manti lakhang at Chhuksang and Monastery
5) Ranchun Cave ( Chunsi Cave), Tangbe Village
6) Man Made Sky caves dated 3000 years
7) Dhakmar
8) Lo Ghekar ( Ghar Gompa)
9) Charang Palace
10) Charang Monastery
11) Lo-Manthang – Jhyampa Monastery – Thubchen Monastery – Choedye Monastery – Lo Manthang Palace – King’s Tom – Namgyal Monastery – Thinggar/ Thingkar village
12) Chosar – sky caves, Lo-Nifu Gompa – Lo Gurfu Gompa (Lo Garphuk Kanying Samten Choeling Monastery)- Jhong cavem Barkha village, Kimaling etc
13) Koncholing cave Monastery
14) Ritseling Cave Monastery
15) Chodzong Gompa
16) Luri Gompa, Yara – Ghara
17) Beautiful Chortans at Tangee Village
18) Kimbu Gompa,Samdzong, Makhchung, Amka
19) Natural beauty of Himalaya from different places- beautiful villages

Lo mustang

Tangee Village

Journey Across 3 Asian Countries

Three Asian countries (Nepal, Tibet – China and Bhutan) can be connected with beautiful tour and trekking program, those trips can be arranged via flight arrangement or by overland. Nepal offers Nature tour, cultural tour, trekking to base camps of high Himalaya including Everest base camp, Jungle safari around National parks, Mountain and peak expeditions, world heritage site tour and Spiritual tour. Beside this Nepal has many short and long adventure trips like rafting, paragliding, mountain expedition , peak climbing , Bungee Jump etc. Normally with three country tour it will be better to include most of the UNESCO heritage sites including Monasteries, Temples & Historic monuments located in Nepal, starting from the Kathmandu, Patan & Bhaktapur Durbar Squares, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath & Boudhanath with the famous temple located near to the hill station like place Nagarkot. Also can take chances of visiting the high altitude place to see the beautiful Himalayan ranges and to explore another spiritual destination Namobuddha, After tour around Kathmandu valley extend drive to Natural beauty city Pokhara which provides nice opportunity of exploring nature with extra experience of Himalaya, this provides opportunity to explore lakes, caves, Temples, Monasteries & monuments in this city. If have enough time program can be further extended to Mustang Valley to explore different monasteries, Temples with beautiful nature and Mountain View. Or can choose the place of peace “Lumbini – the birth place of Lord Buddha.

Bhutan is a country nestled in the eastern Himalayas. The country has been visited by a great many saints, mystics, scholars and pilgrims over the centuries who not only came for their personal elucidation, but blessed the land and its people with an invaluable spiritual and cultural legacy that has shaped every facet of Bhutanese lives visitors and guests to the country will be surprised that the culture and the traditional lifestyle is still richly intact and at the degree to which it permeates all strands of modern day secular life. From the traditional woven garments to the prayer flags on high mountain slope, from the built environment to the natural environment. From the religious masked dances to the folk dances, this cultural heritage is proudly evident and offers a unique cultural setting.

The Bhutanese have treasured their natural environment as it is seen as a source of all life and the abode of the Gods and spirits. Buddhism has been the predominant religion since the 7th century and has inculcated deeply the value that all forms of sentient life, not just human life, are precious and sacred. Given such a prevailing ethos which respects the natural environment. it is not surprising that the Bhutanese have lived in harmony with nature and that the nation has its environment still pristine and intact today. the country has been identified as one of the 10 biodiversity hotspots in the world and as one of the 221 global endemic bird areas. Its ecosystems harbors some of the eastern Himalayas with an estimated 770 spices of birds and over 50 species of Rhododendron, besides an astonishing variety of medical plants and orchids. Bhutan also has a rich wildlife with animals like the Takin, Snow Leopard, Golden Langur, Blue Sheep, Tiger, Water Buffalo and Elephant. It is better to include; Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Hike to Kurjey, Jambay and Tamshing Lhakhang, Kila Gomba ,Singye Drak, Mebar Tsho, Trongsa Dzong and the Ancient Watch Tower, Tang Valley Excursion, Tango Monastery & Chari Pilgrimage, Kichu lhakhang, Sengye Drak, Punakha Dzong, Tashi Choe Dzong and Kharchu Monastery on Bhutan part.

“Tibet” the roof top of world offers many adventure and spiritual destinations. it has been renowned for centuries as a mysterious and timeless land. Despite modernization, it still retains many elements of its past: intriguing gompas, ancient markets, fun-loving and ever-smiling Tibetans and curious nomads with their yak caravans. The awe-inspiring mountain, panoramas, sweeping plains and turquoise lakes combine to create unforgettable sights.

Tibet may be the unforgettable destination for all people by spending days in Tibetan cities, mountains and Tibetan environment. There are many trekking and tour destinations. The cities like Gyantse, Shigatse, Lhasa, Tsedang, and Yarlung are the ornaments of Tibet having cultural, Natural and spiritual importance.

The main attraction of Tibet tours are potala place, Barkhor markets, Jokhang temple, Norbulingka monastery, Sera monastery, Ramoche monastery, Kumbum monastery, Samye Monastery, Ganden Monastery, Tashilumpo monastery,Khumbum Monastery, Yamdrok Tso, Shakya Monastery, Rongbuk monastery as the spiritual places this can be extended to explore north Everest Base camp in this route. We can get modernized experience in the cities like Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse. In west and far west Tibet there are famous and spiritual destinations which is well known on all OMH followers as Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Bonpo etc . Mt. Kailash, Mansarovar lake, Paiku-so Lake, Kanglung Valley, Garuda valley, Gurugem monastery, Tirthapuri, Guge Kingdom etc. are famous spiritual centers in west Tibet. Many of the pilgrimage want to make Mt, Kailash Kora with crossing Dolma La Pass via Dirapuk. There are great views of Long Himalaya range, beautiful lakes and landscape on the route.