Located in the western region of Nepal, Upper Mustang Trek has more than what meets the eye. This beautiful place has its own history over the centuries in the context of Asian history. The place has been a negotiating ground where mutual benefits were spoken out loud by the lords of Tibet and Nepal, thus, bears a significant role in playing its diplomatic policies.
Upper Mustang is accessible through motorways as it lies in the upper belt of Mustang which is characterized by plateaus that are similar to Tibet’s. The route to Upper Mustang Trek has been used by the traders and armies over the centuries.
We will now be discussing the five main highlights of the Upper Mustang Trek or widely known as Lo-Manthang. Without further ado, let us start counting.
After you reach Chhuksang, you will see the three clumps of whitewashed stone houses. To the south is the MentsunKhang Cave Gompa in the settlements. You will have to pay NRs 130 for admission. It is tricky to find the man with the keys but, if you find him then you can slowly climb through the rickety ladders and get to see the century’s old, unmoved statues of Maitreya.
Mani Wall is another spectacular site which you will see during your trek in Upper Mustang. These Mani walls. After you descend through the Tsarang tracks unto the steel bridge of Tangmar Chu, you will be setting your eyes on perhaps the longest Mani Wall in whole Nepal.
The people of Upper Mustang call themselves the Lobas (People from Lo). Their culture is very much similar to that of the Tibetans. Lobas mostly live in an open two-storey open central courtyard where the ground floor is their garrison for horse and farm implements. While entering their house, you will notice the spirit traps made from the horns of Sheep and twigs in the shape of a cross with threads in five colours woven in a diamond shape. These spirit traps, also known as Zor, are believed to capture the evil spirits and ward them off.
Village of Tsarang
Located at the altitude of 3575m, Tsarang is a historical place which has five-storey white Dzong and ochre Gompa. The former palace which was built in 1378 was once the greatest library in all of Mustang. However, it still houses the gold-leafed prayer book. You will see a collection of mummified snow leopard there, which are for warding off evil spirits.
The main highlight of the Upper Mustang Trek is the Lo Manthang itself. Lo Manthang is the capital of Mustang in its golden days. The city of Lo Manthang was closed for foreigners before but now, anyone with permits from TAAN can visit this city. Despite the apparent grime sight from a visitor’s view, the Lobas are prosperous people with a fair amount of wealth.
In Lo Manthang, there are several sites to visit for a whole week. There are about four major temples within the city of Lo Manthang. The first is the three-storeyJampa (Champa) Lhakhang, which means the house of gods and it dates back to 1387. The Second is the red 15th Century Thubchen Gompa which lies close to the centre of the city. It was built by the third king of Mustang. The third is the Chode Gompa, which was built in 1710. And the fourth one is the Choprang Gompa, which is a new gompa made for meditation.
Raja’s Palace in Lo Manthang is another spectacular four-storey building in the city. At present, Jigme ParbalBista is the present Raja of Mustang. Although the Raja’s duties are mostly ceremonial, the people in Upper Mustang consult everything with him on every matter related all over Mustang.
You can hire a horse and visit some of the villages in the area. To the east of Lo Manthang is Chosar, the site of Garphu and Nyphu gompas and the enchanting cave dwellings. Also, to the north, you will see two hills where there are ruins of the castle which now is a site for sky burial.
These are the highlights for the Upper Mustang Trek. Hope you will have a great trip.