Nepal is a small country possessing various assortments of aspects that range from topography, religion, vegetation and climate all within it’s relatively bijou territory. With regions quite famous for trekking, like the Everest region and the Annapurna region, Nepal also has remote and isolated areas where trekking on the secluded landform can be enjoyed. One such less travelled region for trekking is the Mustang region. We will be discussing and elaborating the virtues of trekking in the mustang region in this article.
Mustang, with Jomsom as its headquarters, is a mystical place that provides trekkers and travelers with its unique land topography. The word “Mustang” is derived from the Tibetan word “Mun Tan”, which means “Fertile Plain”. Lying at the border of Tibet, the landscape and culture of Mustang has lots of resemblance with Tibet. Adorned with cerulean lakes embedded within the amethyst soils and the vast openness of the area; trekking in Mustang feels like trudging through the most sequential place on Earth. With its own unique vegetation and flora, Mustang is a paradise possessed with caves, huge water bodies and a florescent presence under the cyan sky.
Mustang region is further classified into two regions- Upper Mustang and Lower Mustang. Generally, trekking in Upper Mustang is much preferred with Lower Mustang. The Upper Mustang region is called the Kingdom of Lo and comprises almost two thirds of the Mustang region. Remote and isolated, the upper Mustang was a restricted demilitarized area until 1992, which makes it one of the most preserved regions in the world, with a majority of the population still speaking traditional Tibetan languages. Tibetan culture has been preserved by the relative isolation of the region from the outside world. Life of the people in the region revolves around tourism, animal husbandry and trade. Trekking through the terrains at Mustang, you would be greeted with a contrast of rocky elevations, giant boulders in the vastness of open areas and jaded vegetation that are present on intervals throughout. Mustang’s status as a kingdom ended in 2008, when Nepal became of republic. While trekking through the trails, you can clearly see the influence of the outside world, especially China, growing and contributing a miniscule amount to the change in the lives of Mustang’s people.
With a transhimalayan climate, cool and semi-arid, Upper Mustang is the rain shadow of the Annapurna and the Dhaulagiri mountain ranges. Trekking in Upper Mustang presents you with its main hydrographic feature of the Gandaki River. The river runs southward towards the terai, biscuiting Mustang. Part of the river valley in the Southern Mustang district forms the Kali-Gandaki Gorge, by some measures the deepest gorge in the world. Trekking along the trails, you would be greeted by Khumjung Himal with its elevation of 6,700 meters.
Trekking and foreign visitors have been allowed to the region since 1992, but the tourism to Upper Mustang is regulated. You would need to obtain a special permit to enter Upper Mustang, the cost and expense is then used to improve Mustang’s environmental epiphany. Rich in Buddhist Culture, it is like an alternate way to experience the Tibetan culture and landscape because of its close resemblance to those places. Trekking through, you are greeted by many Gumbas, temples and chortens in the poised terra firma of Mustang, all of them ornately decorated by the gentle swaying of colorful prayer flags in the wind.
The people residing here are generally Thakalis, Magar and Gurung people. Tiji festival is a popular festival celebrated in Mustang that has its own unique religious and historical importance. People regard this ceremony as a celebration of chasing away the demons from the villages. The sight of the people dressed up in their traditional colorful attires, chanting prayers and performing dramas that portrait the myths is quite surreal and feels exotic.
Lower Mustang occupies the southern edges of the Tibetan Plateau, and has similar landscapes, presenting you with trekking on wild, dry and barren terrains. The Sun rise and sun set views amidst the mountains like Himchuli, Nilgiri, Machhapuchhre and Tukuche is a glorious sight to behold! The narrow alley ways with flat-roofed and white-washed buildings abraded by the environment in Marpha village in Mustang is utterly eccentric. The villages are also popular for apples that are locally grown in the area.
One of the major highlights of trekking in the Mustang Region is visiting Muktinath. It is a popular spiritual hub that attracts many Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims from around the world every year. The Muktinath temple is a metaphorical system of harmony the two religions of Hinduism and Buddhism share. The eternal flame that burns here is the juxtaposition of religious idiosyncrasy.
Enveloped in the isolation and remoteness, trekking in Nepal the Mustang region of Nepal is a brilliant way to enjoy the regions’ religious and cultural treasure trove along with its distinct land topography.