The mysteries lurking in Mustang
Mustang district resides in the rain shadow area of the Annapurna region. Specifically speaking, it lies north of Pokhara till the Kaligandaki gorge. Aside from geography, Mustang is quite different from any part of Nepal both in terms of culture and topography. The terrain, the views, the mountains, and the people are very different here. There are many mysteries lurking in Mustang and this blog shall take a look at them.
The main reason why Mustang is so mysterious lies in the fact that it is ‘different’. As most parts of Nepal are either hilly and plain, contrastingly, Mustang resembles a desert. It receives minimum rainfall throughout the year and the land resembles Tibet in some aspects. In upper mustang, you can find people following the Tibetan lifestyle.
When we speak of Mustang, it is crucial to comprehend that Mustang is categorized into two parts. They are ‘Lower Mustang’ and ‘Upper Mustang’. Numerous treks take you in lower as well as upper mustang. However, getting to upper mustang is a bit complex. We shall look into this a bit late.
Lower Mustang is one of the most-visited parts in the Annapurna region. Treks like the Mustang valley trek and even some of the Annapurna Circuit treks have a visit to lower Mustang. To reach Mustang, one must arrive at Jomson first. You can reach here either by air or by bus. It is one of the first steps that you need to take to unravel the mysteries lurking in Mustang.
Kagbeni is the initial settlement that you will explore in this trek. You’ll witness centuries-old houses which have withstood the test of time and narrow gulley in which sheep run wildly. Due to the strong winds, the fluttering of prayer flags provides a feeling of serenity. The Lhungfu Cave will teach you a bit about the influence of Buddhism in these parts. The Kag Khar palace will give you an insight into the life of the royal too!
A half-day hike from Jomsom will lead you to Marpha. This quaint town has a reputation for having great apple orchards. They are quite tasty too! The road to Marpha goes along the Kaligandaki river and provides amazing views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains. The houses in Marpha are made of stone and the town is very clean. Also, you can visit the Marpha monastery and Chhairo Gompa to know more about this town’s culture and heritage.
Upper Mustang was a restricted zone and only in 1992, it was opened to the general public. Although, there are strict guidelines and restrictions present to this day. Upper Mustang is one of the biggest mysteries lurking in Mustang.
Trekking and exploring Upper Mustang is in itself a privilege. The people living here are cut off from the rest of the world. Also, this region had its king and it was recognized by the Government of Nepal too. In comparison to Lower Mustang, Upper Mustang receives even less rainfall. The arid landscape and prehistoric artifacts and buildings make it a utopia for travelers.
We won’t bore you with additional details so let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways from Upper Mustang.
- The capital city of Upper Mustang Lomanthang contains many ancient places. The Lomanthang Durbar is its major attraction. The huge palace dates back to the 15th century and faces numerous Gumbas.
- The Chhoser caves have piqued the interest of researchers and travelers alike. A few hours away from Lomanthang, you can see more than 5000 caves which are believed to be 2500 years old. It is still not known as to who built them and why?
- The people in Upper Mustang have culture and lifestyle that closely resemble Tibetans. You can witness people practicing Tibetan culture.
- Whether you are in Upper Mustang or Lower Mustang, you are never far from mountains. Observe surreal view of the Annapurna mountain range, Dhaulagiri, and Manasalu.
It is not possible to fully explain the various mysteries lurking in Mustang so it is better to visit it. We hope that this blog has sparked an interest in you. If so, then we shall see you in Nepal soon. Happy travels!