Mustang Nepal, known as the Trans-Himalayan District, has become a beautiful destination for many tourists.Mustang is one of the places to visit once in a lifetime to truly enjoy the natural beauty. As Annapurna is behind the Himal, it is called the Trans-Himalayan District. Mustang, which receives very little rainfall, is also known as the desert . The air coming from the Bay of Bengal is blocked by the mountains and is not allowed to go towards the Mustang. Therefore, there is less water in Mustang and more rain in Kaski Pokhara. The Annapurna Himalayas have a role to play in making Pokhara the wettest place in Nepal. The world’s deepest gorge, Kali Gandaki, reaches Jomsom after a 20-minute flight. While traveling in the air, we enjoy the view of the Annapurna Himalayan Ranges on the right and the breathtaking view of the Dhaulagiri Mountains on the left.
Foreign tourists from all over the world come here to make the most of their vacation time. In addition, the number of Nepalis visiting as domestic tourists is also large. Some tourists go to Lower Mustang and others go to Upper Mustang Nepal (Upper Mustang). The area from the district headquarters Jomsom to Kagbeni is considered as Lower Mustang Nepal. Also the Muktinath temple area, a major religious site for Hindus, falls in the lower Mustang. A significant number of Nepali and Indian pilgrims visit Muktinath. These Hindus are also promoting Mustang tourism. A three-hour walk from Jomsom to Kagbeni does not require a permit. So some foreign tourists limit their hiking to the Lower Mustang Nepal.
The Mustang, which is connected to the southern part of Tibet, reflects Tibetan culture in particular. The people of this predominantly Loba region live in high religious faith. The trekking route connecting Tibet and Nepal, known as the Trans-Himalayan Salt Trade Route, was granted a trekking permit by the Government of Nepal in 1992. Earlier, foreign tourists were not allowed to enter Upper Mustang.
A minimum of 500 is required to enter the Upper Mustang Nepal. If you plan to stay in the Upper Mustang for more than 10 days, you will have to pay an additional fee of fifty dollars per day. In order to go to Upper Mustang, it is mandatory for foreign tourists to have a group of at least two people. Otherwise, one person has to pay the same entrance fee as two people. As this trek falls in the Annapurna Protected Area, foreign tourists have to pay Rs 3,000 as entrance fee. But for domestic tourists, there is no charge.
Attraction of the Upper Mustang Nepal
Mustang Nepal is known as the desert of Nepal. However, the view of the unique landscape easily captivates anyone. Even though it is a desert, it is difficult to describe the beauty of Mustang in words from the point of view of natural beauty. You have to go to the same place to get a closer look at the unprecedented beauty of the Mustang. Maybe it’s incomplete by someone explaining it. Tibetan culture, lifestyle, way of life, religious heritage, natural structure, etc. are the attractions of the Upper Mustang. In recent times, Mustang has been number one in location hunting for filming Nepali films. Some domestic tourists say that they want to go to Mustang because they have seen the film. It has been said on social media that there is a big deception to go around Mustang.
Centuries old structures like Gumba, Stupa, Mani, Chhorten etc. have made the Upper Mustang Nepal meaningful. The proximity of industrious women dressed in traditional yarn woven yak wool, religious old men spinning prayer wheels make your Upper Mustang visit even more enjoyable and unforgettable. Changra and flocks of sheep, often found in the Himalayas, can sometimes give you a break. This can also be a new experience for the first time Mustang. Celebrating for three days, Tiji festival is another attraction of Lomanthang.
The main objective of this festival is to wish mutual brotherhood, protection from natural calamities and world peace. Celebrated with local costumes, cultural pageants, lama dances and crown dances, another purpose of the festival is to ward off unclean spirits.
According to Tiji mythology, a god named Dorje Jono fought against the dead to save Lomanthang from the spirits. There is a belief that Tiji festival is being celebrated as a legacy of that. It is believed that the new season started from this Tiji festival in Lomanthang. Lamas and locals from Upper Mustang’s Lomanthang, Ghami, Charang, Surkhang, Choser and Chhonhup gather in traditional cultural attire to celebrate the festival by chanting and dancing.
Lomanthang’s three hundred-year-old monasteries, museums, former king’s palace, Tiji festival, wildlife, birds, etc. are the attractions for Lomanthang. Chode Gumba and Jhampa Gumba are the main monasteries in Lomanthang that are important to you. Jhampa Gumba is the oldest Shakya Gumba in Lomanthang, built in the early fourteenth century. You also get a chance to see a large Future Buddha statue in Chode Gumba. Another monastery is Thupchen Gumba. Loka was built during the reign of Tashi Gon in the late fifteenth century.
The 1300-year-old Ghargumba is also a religious site that adds importance to your visit. On the way back from Lomanthang, you reach Ghargumba by crossing the 4,000 meter long Chogo La. Similarly, Mustang’s journey is complete without missing the seven-century-old Charang Gumba and the old palace of Charang. Mani located in Ghami is the longest Mani of Mustang. This 300 meter long Mani is one of the must-see places to visit.
The two monasteries at Choser, eight kilometers from Lomanthang, and the ancient cave of Charat are also important sites for the Upper Mustang Nepal. There are two monasteries in Choser, Lo-Nifu Gumba and Lo-Gurfu Gumba at an altitude of 4,000 meters. Similarly, Sija Zhong Cave is another attraction. The cave has four floors and can be seen by climbing on all four floors with the help of wooden ladders. The cave in which people lived in ancient times. The living quarters can be seen, and the walls are covered with rubble.
Lomanthang can be seen from outside the royal palace. Currently, the palace is closed. After the end of Nepal’s monarchy in 2063 BS, the last king of Mustang Nepal, Jigme Palbar Bista, declared the end of the Mustang Nepal kingdom. King Jigme Palbar Bista died on December 12, 2073 at the age of 86.
King Jigme Palbar Bista was the 25th king of the independent state of Lomanthang, which was started by Ame Paul in 1380. Vishta V.S. He was proclaimed king in 2022 BS after the death of his father. King Bista was popular among the people of Upper Mustang Nepal. He says that he always wants the best for the people. Lomanthang was the capital of the then Mustang state. Here you can enjoy a glimpse of the traditional Tibetan culture and way of life. Wildlife and birds preserved within the Annapurna Conservation are additional attractions of the Upper Mustang Trek. Wildlife like Red Panda, Snow Leopard, Ratuwa, Malasapro, Marmot etc. are within this protected area. Similarly, the presence of 478 species of birds is also a feature of this region.
Information for domestic & International tourists
Recently, the number of Nepali tourists has increased. There is a wave of Nepalis going to Mustang from different parts of Nepal. Especially in the months of October and November, the weather is suitable for sightseeing and the long holidays of Hindu Nepali festivals Dashain and Tihar increase the number of Nepali tourists. As Hindu Nepalis and Indian citizens come to visit Muktinath, the pressure of people has increased in Jomsom. Foreigners come from all over the world to spend millions of dollars. Not only foreigners but also Nepalis are able to use their free time. Walking in groups with family and friends is the best thing in life. It is better for those who live a more urban life to visit such places in large numbers. Staying away from the hustle and bustle of the city, even for a short time, can help you live a healthier life to some extent. Many trekking routes in the country have the same number of foreign and domestic tourists during the trekking season.
Trekking routes like Everest Base Camp, Annapurna, Manaslu, Mustang Nepal, Tilicho are crowded with internal and external tourists. In such cases, places like Mustang, Annapurna and Manaslu are forced to suffer due to lack of room at night. You have to walk to another place in the late evening without getting a room in any place. Rokka Magar, a pioneer from Myagdi, is of the opinion that such a problem would not arise if domestic tourists walked outside the season when foreign tourists come. Trekking guides are a source of stress when you can’t find a room. As he is a responsible person for foreigners, it is his job to manage the room. Somewhere the group has booked a room by telephone before reaching there. If you get a chance to book a room, you can easily get a room, but if you can’t book, you have to suffer. The problem is the same, even though the lodge and the room are not limited to Mustangs like Annapurna.
Even in high places, rooms are not as comfortable as in the city. It is better for a hiker to go to such a place with information about the place. By understanding the place to go trekking, you have to create the mentality of taking the problem easily. Which makes hiking fun and easy.
Saroj dhkal, a trekking guide from Dhading who was found in Upper Mustang, shared his experience of 30 years and suggested the internal tourists to understand the place to go for trekking. He understands that walking will be easier if the group of people who know about the place as much as possible. Saroj dhakal, who has been in the trekking business for about 30 years from his home in Aiselukharka, Khotang, suggests that the journey will be enjoyable and comfortable if he decides to go on a trek with any adventure.
Where can we get a photo, where can’t get one?
“Let’s not take anything but photos, let’s not leave anything but footprints.” The slogan is “popular” for trekking tourists. But photography is not allowed everywhere. Hundreds of years old religious sites are not allowed to be photographed. The rule has been made so that no one can take a photo unnecessarily and create unrest in the monastery. Most of the Mustang monasteries are not photographed. Lomanthang, the main town of Upper Mustang Nepal. There are three old monasteries here. Chode Gumba, Jhampa Gumba and Thupchen Gumba are famous monasteries for Lomanthang. A ticket of one thousand rupees is required to enter these three monasteries. But there is a ban on taking photos. If you have to take a photo, you pay a hundred dollars and get permission for one hour. But some tourists say that they should be able to take photos without any hindrance after entering with tickets. Apart from the old monasteries, photos can be taken freely. But when taking a photo of a person, their consent has to be taken. People in this area can easily protest when they take a photo. In that case, you can’t tax them.
Stephen George Hermida, a British citizen, said, “Rich people can afford to take pictures, but poor people without money can’t afford to take pictures. What kind of religion is this?” This is the complaint of almost everyone who is very fond of photos. They have paid Rs 50,000 and gone to Upper Mustang. And you only have to pay a thousand rupees to visit three monasteries in Lomanthang. It is also natural to complain at a glance. However, the rules of the monastery are strictly prohibited. Trekking guide Hem Karki said the rule was very good. He said, “If someone has to take a photo, he has to pay for it, so that the photo will not be misused.” Since everyone has a smart phone, when everyone takes a photo, the camera flash and shutter sound create unrest in the peace zone like Gumba. Therefore, it is appropriate to prohibit unnecessary photography in the monastery. There is no justification for complaining about this.
Which country has more tourists?
According to the Tourist Checkpost and Tourist Information Center, Kagbeni, the number of French tourists is the highest. According to the statistics from October 28 to November 17, 2018, 84 French citizens have visited Upper Mustang. The second largest number is Swiss tourists. During this period, 35 Swiss tourists have visited Upper Mustang Nepal. Third is the large number of German tourists. Statistics show that 33 German, 24 American and 17 Indian tourists entered Upper Mustang. The number of tourists from other countries is relatively low, said Buddhi Bahadur Gurung, tourism assistant at the tourist check post and tourist information center, Kagbeni. From October 28 to November 17, 361 tourists from different countries have obtained Upper Mustang Nepal permits. All the tourists have trekked to the tea house. At present, there are very few tourists trekking camping. With the facilities of lodges and guesthouses, the number of camping trekkers is decreasing. For 361 tourists, 336 guides and porters got employment. If it was a camping trek, it would have doubled its employment.
Overall, there is no doubt that the time you spare for the Mustang trek will be really fruitful. It would be wise to visit such places whenever possible. Living life means being close to nature. This is a unique example of nature.