Upper Mustang trek an amazing experience : The Moon on the Earth

30 December, 2018
Jaya N Bhandari

The act of journeying takes you to unknown destinations where only you can truly understand the reality and mystery of life's journey. There are few places on Earth that can leave you feeling amazed during your travels, and Upper Mustang is one of those rare places.

My own journey to Upper Mustang began with two French companions as we set off on a trekking adventure to Lomanthang and Upper Mustang. Starting in Kathmandu, we were supposed to fly to Jomsom, but bad weather conditions forced us to take a bus instead. Even that journey was not without its hiccups, as our car broke down and we had to take another taxi to Beni, followed by a local jeep to Rupse Chhahara, where we witnessed the deepest gorge in the world, offered by the Kaligandaki Gorge.

Despite the unexpected setbacks, we continued on, making our way along the trans-Himalayan zone of the Tibeto-Nepalese society and village, passing through the Kaligandaki and Thak Khola trade zones as well as the lowlands of Nepal. We spent our first night in Asia Inn Kagbeni, an ancient town that still retains its historic charm despite the encroachment of modern development.

The next day, we had to travel to Tsele and submit our permit at the checkpoint to gain access to Upper Mustang. We started walking across the dry and desert-like landscape, buffeted by strong winds that helped propel us forward. We reached Tsele and checked into Bishal Lodge before continuing our journey to Samar, Bhenapass Syngbochen, Ghami, and Dhakmar. Each place we visited had its unique beauty, and we enjoyed stunning views of the landscape along the way.

In Ghami, we even had lunch with the nephew of the former Mustang king, Jingme Prawal Bista. The next day, we continued on to Lomanthang via Ghargumba and passed through Loghyakar Gumba, the only Ningmapa sect in Upper Mustang or Loba zone, before reaching Lo-man thang itself.

The walled medieval capital of Upper Mustang is truly a sight to behold, with its narrow alleys, beautiful prayer wheels, and herds of farming animals. The architecture of Lo Manthang is equally impressive, with the four-story royal palace and the Thugchen Gompa monastery, built in the fifteenth century. The city wall itself is a marvel to behold, with structures made of giant wooden logs.

After exploring Lomanthang and the surrounding villages, we visited Namgyal Monastery and a private school. Jean even spent time birdwatching in the barren zone, while Bea commented that walking through the landscape was like walking on the moon. The whole trip felt like we were journeying through a different universe, with breathtaking views that left us in a semi-spiritual or fully spiritual state of mind.

Eventually, we made our way to Muktinath, enduring a long and hard trail before arriving in Jomsom and flying back to Pokhara, then returning to Kathmandu. The harmonious journey had come to an end, but the memories of Upper Mustang will remain with us forever.

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