The ancient kingdom of Mustang is home to some of the rarest cultural and historical wonders of South Asia. Predominantly Buddhist, the small population of Mustang here were once the followers of ancient Bon Religion.
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It was once an independent kingdom. It was annexed to mainland Nepal only in the 18th Century. Also known as “The Forbidden City,” access for foreigners to enter the region was permitted only in 1992, however the inflow of foreign tourists is still tightly regulated by the officials.
Being a restricted region, you are required to get a special permit before entering the region. See Costs & Permits for more info.
Mustang (meaning ‘fertile land’ in Tibetan) or Upper Mustang is a form er Kingdom of Lo, which comprised of territories from Nepal & Tibet. Buddhism is a predominant religion in this region, where, the earliest inhabitants were known to be the adherents of Bon religion, a faith which predates Buddhism.
During ancient time, it was used as a transit by salt traders crossing Himalayas. A independent kingdom ruled by a monarch, it was annexed to Nepal in 1380, and the royal estate came to cease in 2008. The major attractions of Upper Mustangs are the Lo Manthang, the last surviving former monarch, ancient Tibetan culture and artifacts and high-mountain cliffs dating back thousand years. These mountain caves are supposed to be used during wars; to hide from the reach of foreign invaders, as a shelter from diseases and later for burial of the dead. Numbering to 100s these man-made caves are situated 13,000 ft above the ground.
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Lo Manthang is the capital of Mustang. It is a walled city which safeguarded the residents living inside the compound from foreign invaders during ancient time. The walled city is also a home of former monarch Raja Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista.
During a trek to Upper Mustang, you can visit inside the city and explore the authentic Tibetan culture and lifestyle in person. You can also witness Tiji festival, a 3 day ritual, celebrated every May.
The remote region of Upper Mustang can be accessed throughout the year. It is a rain-shadow area, therefore, it is least affected by the tormenting monsoon of Nepal.
Gears & Equipment
- Pair of hiking boots (well broken in) – One could spend over 5 to 6 hours a day on the trail, therefore, long-lasting boots are essential. The boots can range from light to medium, high or low. If one plans to trek during the months when it snows, the high boots become essential for proper hiking.
- Soft and light shoes (sneakers) – Carrying light-weight sneakers for ‘after the day hike’ serves comfort.
- Lightweight knapsack – It is useful for short trips away from one’s lodge, and will save you from carrying large backpack along. It should be large enough to fit a camera, spare clothes and a sleeping bag, if one plans to spend a night away.
- Lightweight sleeping bag – Essential during peak seasons (October-December). Lodges do offer blankets, but are scarce during the peak season, therefore carrying a sleeping bag (-10°C) can be a great precaution.
- Fabric band-aids – Blisters are common due to rigorous walking. A good alternative to bandaids is duct tape. Works great for blisters and also proves invaluable in many other ways.
Costs & Permits
Entering Upper Mustang requires a special permit costing US $500, which is valid for 10 days. The additional days cost US $50 per day.