Not from this world Kingdom of Mustang

2. Feb. 2019

Long isolated from the outside world, the small (former) kingdom of Mustang has managed to preserve its beguiling fascination of bizarre barren high mountain deserts and mystical spirituality up to the present day. A country, like not from this world.
The magic of Lo

The name Mustang means “fertile plain” and is of Nepalese origin. Which is why no one in Mustang uses this name because of the tibetian embossing. Here the name “Lo” is common, the short and succinct Tibetan word for “South”. From the perspective of Tibet, Lo is in the south. In proportion to Tibet, Lo is a small dwarf who, however, like a burning glass, focuses the entire fascination of Tibet: barren, windswept plateaus lined with icy mountain giants; spectacularly bizarre forms of erosion such as canyons or colorful sandstone mountains; Lush green oases surmounted by mighty, orange-washed monastery castles and the deep spirituality of Buddhism Lamaism, which can be felt in every corner of this mysterious land. Walking here becomes step by step to a spiritual experience and a journey to yourself.

Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau

Mustang Trekking ® Trail Angels

Lo is in the north

But how do you get to Mustang? Now Lo is from the point of view of the Nepalese in the north. Locked for tourists until 1992, the road was long and arduous for the first Western travelers, such as the great austrian Asia-researcher Herbert Tichy. Today, the plane shortcuts the journey from Kathmandu to Jomoson with a stopover in Pokhara crucial. The quick and uncommonly spectacular flight through the deepest gorge in the world, the Kali Gandaki Breakthrough, wedged between the eight-thousanders of Giant Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, unlocks the secret of Mustang’s Tibetan character: If you enter the small aircraft in the sultry, subtropical Pokhara, you leave it 20 minutes later in the cold, dry Jomoson, because there, the humid air masses in the monsoon are no longer able to reach the sky-high Himalayan chain. From Jomoson it is only four leisurely hours to Kagbeni, where one crosses the border in “Promised Land” to Lo.

Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau

Also the clothing of the locals prasents itself colorful in the royal city of Lo © Trail Angels

The kingdom ot the hearts

Although the Kingdom of Lo had lost all meaning after the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese People’s Army, its status as an independent monarchy remained within the Kingdom of Nepal. In 2008 Nepal became a republic and the new government in Kathmandu dissolved the monarchy in Mustang. What the Lo-Pa, the people in Mustang could not prevent, continue to pay homage to their king in the capital Lo Manthang. Although Lo Manthang has been connected to the road network for only a few years (only the connection from the north, from China), the city, which is surrounded by a rectangular castle wall, was able to retain its medieval character. And effortlessly defend the reputation of being the smallest (with about 570 inhabitants) and the most isolated capital in the world.

Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau

When housing and environment are merging into one © Trail Angels

My seven wonders of Mustang

With all due respect to UNESCO, but I often must smile about what today owns or applies for World Heritage status. If there is a worthy combined world-nature & cultural heritage, then it is probably Mustang. Here are my personal seven wonders between Kagbeni and the Chinese border: 1) the medieval royal city of Lo Manthang; 2) the breathtaking caravan route to Dajori La; 3) the colorful sandstone mountains of Dhakmar with its seemingly unattainable cave settlements; 4) the small “Paradise Lake” high above Mui La with breathtaking views of Damodar and Annapurna Himal; 5) Ghar Gompa, Mustang’s oldest monastery and Padmasambhava meditation site; 6) the Potala – the impressive Monastery of Tsarang and 7) the Swallow’s Nest of the Luri Gompa in the middle of a bizarre amphitheater made of sandstone needles.

Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau

Feel the magic of the region © Trail Angels

Pilgrimage to yourself

The Mustang Heritage Trail combines the wonders of Mustang on a wonderful track like a string of pearls, avoiding as far as possible the dusty Jeep Track, which is grandly called the “Mustang Highway”. With the “Trail Planner” of Bookyourtrail.com you can individually plan and book this fascinating trail. If you want even more detailed advice, do not hesitate and contact us. We are happy to help you with our never-ending fascination for Nepal.

Author

Günter Mussnig

The graduate geographer is one of the founders and managing directors of Trail Angels, which is responsible for the Bookyourtrail.com web platform. As a trekking & outdoor enthusiast, he is one of the fathers of the Alpe-Adria Trail and has been exploring the Nepalese Himalayas for more than 25 years.

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