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 » Tiji Festival Mustang (3rd to 5th May 2016)

The region of Mustang has long, rich and complex history that makes it one of the most interesting places in Nepal . The early history of Lo is shrouded in legend, myth and mystery, but there are records of events in Lo as early as the 8th century. It is quite likely that the Tibetan poet Milarepa, who lived from 1040 to 1123, visited Lo Upper Mustang was once part of Ngari, a name for far western Tibet . Ngari was not a true political entity, but rather a loose collection of feudal domains that also included part of Dolpa. By the fourteenth century much of Ngari, as well as most of what today is western Nepal , was part of the Malla empire government from Sinja.

It is generally believed that Ame Pal (A-ma-dpal) was the founder King of Lo in 1380. The ancestry of the present Mustang Raja can be traced 25 generation back to Ame Pal . Ame Pal, or perhaps his father conquered a large part of the territory in the upper Kali Gandaki and was responsible for the development of the city of Lo Mantahng and many Gompas.

To the west, The Malla empire declined and become split into numerous petty hill States. By the18th century, Jumla had consolidated and reasserted its power. In an effort to develop itself as a trading center and to obtain Tibetan goods, Jumla turned its attention eastward and in the mid 18th century assumed control over Lo, from which it extracted an annual tribute. When he ascended the throne in 1762, Prithvi Narayan Shah began to consolidate what is present day Nepal . At the time of his death, the kingdom extended from Gorkha eastward to the borders of Sikkim . His descendants directed their efforts westward and by1789, Jumla had been annexed. The Gorkha armies never actually entered Lo; they recognized the rule of the Mustang Raja and, although Mustang became part of Nepal , the Raja retained his title and Lo retained a certain amount of autonomy. Lo maintained its status as a separate principality until 1951. After the Rana rulers were overthrown in November, 1950 and King Tribhuwan reestablished the rule of the Shah monarchs, Lo was more closely consolidated into Nepal . The Raja was given the honorary rank of colonel in the Nepal army.


During the 1960's, after the Dalai Lama had fled to India and Chinese armies established control over Tibet , Mustang was a centre for guerrilla operations against the Chinese. The soldiers were the Khampas, Tibet 's most fearsome warriors. They had the backing of the CIA; some Khampas were secretly trained in America . At the height of the fighting there were at least 6,000 Khampas in Mustang and neighboring border areas. The CIA's support ended in the early 1970's when the US , under Kissinger and Nixon, initiated new and better relations with the Chinese. The government of Nepal was pressed to take action against the guerrillas, and making use of internal divisions within the Khampas leadership, abit of treachery, and the Dalai Lama's taped advice for his countrymen to lay down their arms, it managed to disband the resistance without committing to action the10,000 Royal Nepal Army troops that it had sent to the area. Though Mustang was closed, the government allowed a few researchers into the area. Toni Hagen included Mustang in his survey of the entire kingdom of Nepal , and the Italian scholar Giuseppi Tucci visited in the autumn of 1952. Professor David Snellgrove travelled to the region in 1956 but did not visit Lo Manthang. Longtime Nepal resident Barbara Admas travelled to Mustang during the autumn of 1963. The most complete description of the area is Mustang, the Forbidden Kingdom written by Michel Peissel who spent several months in the area in the spring of 1964. Dr, Harka Bahadur Gurung also visited and wrote about upper Mustang in October 1973. A number of groups legally travelled to upper Mustang during the 1980's by obtaining permits to climb Bhrikuti Peak 6364 meters, which is located southeast of Lo Manthang. Other than a few special royal guests, the first legal trekkers were allowed into Mustang in March 1992 upon payment of USD 500 per week for a special trekking permit.


The form of Tibetan Buddhism practised in Mustang is primarily that of the Sakyapa sect. This sect was established at Sakya Monastery in Tibet and dates from 1073. The Sakyapa sect is more worldly and practical in outlook and is less concerned with metaphysics than the more predominant Nyingmapa and Geluppa sects. Sakya Monastery is unique for its horizontal grey, white and yellow stripes on its red walls, an identifying feature of Sakyapa structures. Most chortens and gompas in Lo are painted in these colors that reflect the surrounding hills.


The trek to Lo is through an almost treeless barren landscape. Strong winds usually howl across the area in the afternoon, generally subsiding at night. Being in the rain shadow of the Himalaya, Lo has much less rain than the rest of Nepal , though the skies are cloudy and there is some rain during the monsoon. In the winter there is usually snow, sometimes as much as 30 or40 centimetres on the ground. In Lo itself the countryside is similar to the Tibetan plateau with its endless expanses of yellow and grey rolling hills eroded by wind. There is more rain in the lower part of upper Mustang and the hills tend to be great red fluted cliffs of tiny round stones cemented together by mud. Villages are several hours apart and appear in the distance almost as mirages; during the summer season, after the crops are planted, they are green oases in the desert-like landscape. House and temple construction throughout the region uses some stone but mostly sun-baked bricks of mud. Astonishing edifices, such as the city wall and the 4-story palace in Lo Manthang, are built in this manner. It is said that there were once large forests in Lo, but now wood for construction is hauled ll all the way from Jomosom or pruned from Pipal trees that are carefully planted in every village. The people of upper Mustang call themselves Lobas. To be strictly correct, this word would be spelled "Lopa", meaning "Lo People", in the same way as Sherpa, which means "east Nepal ," of Khampa, which means "Kham People". The people of Lo: probably because of regional dialect, pronounce the word with a definite B sound instead of the P sound that the Sherpas and Khampas use. I will follow Lo tradition and spell the word as it is pronounced : Loba : most anthropological texts, however, disagree with this.

Trek type: Camping
Trek Grade : Challenging
Duration: Trek 21 day (17 days trekking)
Activities: Trekking, camping, sightseeing
Best time to go: May
Departure dates : As per itinerary below

Itinerary of Tiji festival -Mustang May 2016

Day 01 : April 25, 2016 : Arrival at Kathmandu and transfer to Hotel Marsyangdi (3 Star)

Day 02 : April 26, 2016 : Preparation for trekking/ Sightseeing o/n at hotel.

Day 03 : April 27, 2016 : (Kathmandu/Pokhara) Fly to Pokhara and overnight at Pokhara Mount Resort.

Day 04 : April 28, 2016 : (Pokhara/Jomosom) Early flight to Jomosom and trek to Kagbeni. This day is an easy day hike to Kagbeni along the Kaligandaki river. Today there is not much of climb up and down mostly gradual up to Kagbeni.

Day 05 : April 29, 2016: (Kagbeni/Chele) The trail takes you up the east bank of Kali Gandagi that climbs over many ridges as it heads north. In the dry season, it is possible to trek the entire route up the river along the sand and gravel of the riverbed.

Day 06 : April 30, 2016: (Chele/Geling) The climb from Chele is up a steep spur to a cairn at 3130 metres. Here there is view of the village of Gyagar across a huge canyon. A long wall of packed earth encircles Gyagar and its field. The climb continue, as long, steep, treeless, waterless slog, along the side of the spectacular steep canyon to a pass and cairn of rocks at 3540 metres. Here the trails makes a long gradual descent to some chorten on ridge, then descends further on a pleasant trail to samer. Climb above Samar to a ridge then descend into a large gorge past chorten painted in red, black,yellow and white. Along the way the Annapurna himal still visible far to the south. From here you will descend to Geling with its extensive field of barley at 3600 metres.

Day 07 : May 1, 2016: (Geling/Charang) From Geling , the trail climbs gently through fields up the center of the valley, passing below the settlement of Tama Gaun and an imposing chorten. It rejoin the direct trail and then becomes an unrelenting climb across the head of the valley to the Nyi La pass at 3950 metres, the highest point reached on the trek. Cherang is a maze of field, willow trees and house separated by stone walls at the top of the large Charang Cho canyon. The huge 5 story white zdong and red gompa are perched on the edge of the Kali GAndaki gorge on the east end of the valley. Near the Gompa is the house of Maya Bista which, if you have the nerve to get past the ferocious mastiff at the door, doubles as a hotel and restaurant. The village has its own electricity system.

Day 08 : May 2, 2016: (Charanbg/Lo Manthang) The trail descends about 100 metres from Charang, crosses the Charang Chu and climbs steeply up a rocky trail to a cairn on a ridge opposite the village at 3580 metres, then enters the Thulung valley. The trail turns north and climbs gently as the valley climbs to a large isolated chorten that marks the boundary between Charang and Lo. Still climbing , the trail crosses stream, then becomes a grand wide thoroughfare travelling across a desert-like landscape painted in every hue of grey and yellow. Finally from a ridge at 3850 metres, there is a view of the walled city of Lo .

Day 09 : May 3, 2016: (Teiji Festival Starts) Day in (Lo Manthang.) There are four major temples within the city wall of Lo Manthang. Each of these buildings is locked. The villager feel it necessry to control accesss to the temples: the caretaker and the key are avaibable only at certain times, and usually only after a bit negotiation you may be able to enter in side of the Gompas.

Day 10 : May 4, 2016: (Teiji Festival) Day in (Lo Manthang.) There are lot to do in Lo Manthang beside visiting the Gompas. Consider renting a horse to visit some of the other village in the area.

Day 11 : May 5, 2016: (Teiji Festival) Day in (Lo Manthang.) This day is either free day or explore further to north of Lo Manthang depending weather and physical condition.

Day 12 : May 6 , 2016: Trek to Luri Gumba ( 3450m) o/n camp B/L/D

Day 13 : May 7, 2016: Trek to Yara ( Tange) 3200m) o/n camp B/L/D

Day 14 : May 8, 2016: Trek to Tetang (2940m) o/n camp B/L/D

Day 15 : May 9, 2016: Trek to Muktinath (3750m) o/n camp B/L/D

Day 16 : May 10, 2016: Day in Muktinath o/n camp B/L/D

Day 17 : May 11, 2016: (Muktinath-Kagbeni/Jomosom): You will reach Jomosom by lunch and rest of the day will be free.

Day 18 : May 12, 2016: (Jomosom/Pokhara): Fly early in the morning to Pokhara and transfer to hotel.

Day 19 : May 13, 2016: Sightseeing of Pokhara and o/n at hotel.

Day 20 : May 14, 2016: Fly to Kathmandu

Day 21 : May 15, 2016: Free day/optional sightseeing

Day 22 : May 16, 2016: Departure transfer to the airport for onward destination.

Cost : USD $ 2735

Cost included : Special Trekking permit and National park fee, 13 day camping trek with all camping gear and kitchen equipment, English spoken guide, kitchen staffs, necessary porters, Foods: Breakfast, lunch, Snacks and Dinner, 5 nights 3 star hotel in Kathmandu and 3 nights 2 star hotel in Pokhara on BB plan, round trip air ticket Kathmandu - Pokhara -Jomsom - Pokhara - Kathmandu, one full day city tours in Kathmandu with culture guide and necessary land transportation, Medical kit, Porter equipment including clothes, shoe etc., insurance of all trekking crews, domestic airport tax.

Cost not included : Bar Bills, drinks, personal nature expenses, health and travel insurance, rescue charge if applicable, any expenses of Kathmandu and Pokhara except sightseeing and accommodation on BB plan and staff tips tips

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