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One of the great places to visit around Nepal is the lost forbidden kingdom of Nepal, Lomanthang. It is located in Upper Mustang; the only semi desert of Nepal which lies in the rain shadow of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. Upper Mustang is also known as the district beyond the Himalayas. It has its own preserved ancient cultures and traditions. The access in Upper Mustang is highly restricted and travellers need a special permit with a guide to enter Upper mustang.
In this article we will give short brief of 10 things that can be done and explored around Upper Mustang.
Nepal is said to be a trekker’s paradise. One can trek up to Lomanthang, Upper Mustang and hike around Chhoser. A fly to Jomsom or drive to Tatopani from Pokhara can be a good approach for the trek passing the deepest gorge, Kali Gandaki gorge. Trekking offers the best experience as you will spend more time walking and admiring the beauty of nature. You will have more interaction with the nature and locals.
If you are a real adventure seeker, Upper Mustang offer rough and bumpy trail for biking which is a must thing to do around Upper Mustang. Bikers will have exciting and thrilling times during the tour. The several crossing of Kali Gandaki River and riding on its bank is another fun part of the tour. You can enjoy stunning and magnificent views of mountains, plateaus and the cliffs along with the bike ride. A bike ride to Upper Mustang with your buddies can be a lifetime unforgettable memory.
Upper Mustang can also be travelled on 4 wheels. This is the luxurious way to travel Upper Mustang if you are with your family or work colleagues. It is much easier and reliable approach as you can enjoy the drive and the scenery together in a cozy vehicle. Passing different beautiful human settlements along the river banks and plateaus, you will reach the capital city of ancient Kingdom Lo, Lomanthang. A 2 hour drive from here takes you to the border of Nepal and China, Korala.
Upper Mustang is the only semi desert in Nepal which lies in the rain shadow of Massif Annapurna and Giant Dhaulagiri ranges. You will witness various Tibetan plateaus and red cliffs along the way to Lomanthang. They are somehow similar to the Grand Canyon but are of smaller size. The sudden change in the topography and landscape may surprise you.
Upper Mustang is one of the ancient places of Nepal dating back from 2000-3000 years. There are several Buddhist monasteries which were made during the ancient period and are of great importance till now. Many chortens and monuments are well preserved which are of great religious importance to the locals. A lot of mythological stories and incidents are attached behind every monasteries and monuments of the villages.
There are many sky caves that are built on various cliffs of Upper Mustang. They stand tall in the sky and are new things to explore around. These caves were built by the ancient people of the place. It is believed that they were built to get rid of threats from enemies during war and also is a burial chamber. But the real purpose and secret of the caves are still mysterious till now.
If you travel around Mustang, do not forget to visit around the beautiful lushes of apple orchards at Marpha village. Marpha is a famous village for apple and its products. Apples of Marpha are of real taste; juicy and organic. There are some local distilleries where you can tour around and know how apple brandies are made. “Marpha” is a famous local apple brandy of this village. Also, do not forget to taste the dried apples.
Like most of the places, Upper Mustang also has its main festival known as “TIJI festival” which is being celebrated since a long time. It is said that once Mustang was in evil’s side. Dorje Lono fought the demon and defeated it to free Mustang from evil’s side since then this festival is celebrated on the victory against the evil. This festival includes various rituals and chanting with a sacred dance. The festival last for 3 days and people from different part of the world come to see and participate in the festival.
Muktinath is a highest situated sacred place for both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims which lies at the foot of Thorong La pass. It is a temple of Lord Vishnu with a statue of Lord Buddha on a high hill. It is located at an altitude of around 3,800 m. There are 108 sacred taps and 2 sacred lakes where pilgrims dip their body in believe of having salvation after their death.
A simple walk around the village of Upper Mustang can be a good way to interact with the locals and exploring at their lifestyle. There are narrow alleys in village like Marpha and Kagbeni which are of good experience to walk in. The ancient way of living and the culture that they live around are a unique thing to experience and explore.
Nepal is rich in various aspects including the natural, architectural and cultural sides. It is a top visited destination of the world with something interesting for every traveler and adventure seeker. Visiting Nepal once is not enough.