Exotic Bhutan Tours and Treks

Mustang Trek

Upper Mustang Trek/ Tiji Festival
(Twenty-four Day Tour)


Monastry  Lo Manthang


Mustang Tiji Fesitval Trek Itinerary

The small and isolated Trans-Himalayan "kingdom" of Mustang occupies just over 3,000 square kilometres with an average altitude of 1,000 metres, just below the Photu La pass (1,600m), which is itself only 75m above the Tsangpo plain of Tibet. In all respects, geographically, climatically and culturally, it belongs to Tibet. Today it is part of Nepal but retains a degree of autonomy. The Thak Khola/Kali Gandaki River originates here and flows out of the Mustang valley in a series of deep gorges. It has been vividly described by the French anthropologist Michel Peissel in his book "Mustang: The Lost Kingdom". Entry into this area is partially restricted by the Nepalese Government.

Also known as the Kingdom of Lo, Mustang existed as an independent state as early as the 5th Century AD but was absorbed into Tibet in the 7th Century. Later it achieved a degree of independence becoming an important centre of the Lamaistic Sakvapa sect. After the disintegration of Gumthang in the early 15th Century, Gyalpo Ame Pal (1380-1450) founded a dynasty that has survived until the present day. The present king, Jigme Palbar Bista, the 25th after Gyalpo Ame Pal, was born in 1930. The resident population of Mustang is about 6,000.


Mustang Luri Gompa Cave Temples

The Mongols overran Mustang in the 17th Century and in 1760 the Raja of Jumla conquered it. It passed to the Gurkhas 30 years later, who also appreciated its strategic and commercial significance on the trading routes for salt and grain between Nepal and Tibet. When Indian salt largely replaced Tibetan salt in Nepal, Mustang's fortunes declined and it retreated into isolation. Now, the principal economic activity is subsistence farming of barley, complemented by yak, horse, mule and goat breeding. The significant nomadic pastoralist lifestyle has been dictated by the arid environment.

The inhabitants of Mustang are Bhotias (Tibetans) who follow Lamaistic Buddhism. To the south of Mustang are the Thakalis who provide a cultural and geographical bridge between Mustang and the middle hill tribes of Gurungs and Magars (Gurkhas).

For the final part of your trek from Kagbeni to Beni you are back in "Gurkha" country with typical Nepalese scenery. The fauna and flora become richer as you descend from alpine to temperate and finely into sub-tropical forests. The views and the backdrops of the Himalayas are stunning throughout.

Mustang Airport

Mustang Trek with Tiji Festival, Lo Manthang:

DAY 1 DEPARTURE FOR NEPAL

DAY 2 ARRIVAL to KATHMANDU 1350 Meter.
Our office staff will be waiting in arrival gate. Meet our staff and transfer to your Hotel. Short briefing will be followed about necessary formalities and rest of the program. Depending on arrival time you will have choice of visiting nearby sanctuaries or a rest day.

Cliffs at Mustang Dhakmar

DAY 3 PERMIT PROCEDURE AND FREE DAY.
One can visit Kathmandu Durbar Square, great Buddhist pilgrimage sites like Boudhanath Stupa and Soyambunath stupa and the most sacred hindu temple of South Asia, the Pasupatinath Temple.

DAY 4 KATHMANDU to POKHARA 800 Meter.
This morning you will drive to Pokhara (200km) the road mostly follows the River Trisuli and Marshyangdi, depart 7:00 AM in the morning, approximately 6-hrs way by tourist bus and 5 hours' drive by car/van/coaster. Along the drive you will enjoy beautiful scenery. You will arrive late afternoon at Pokhara with enough time to enjoy the colorful town of Pokhara. Overnight stay at Pokhara.

DAY 5 POKHARA – JOMSOM 2750 Meter – KAGBENI 2847 Meter.
Early in morning fly Northwest from Pokhara toward the great portal between the snow covered peaks of Annapurna and Daulagiri. You will enjoy the well-raised massifs of more than 8000 meters, and the river created deepest gorge on this planet.

Jomsom is the district headquarters of Mustang zone. On arrival to Jomsom meet the rest of the trekking staffs, the guide will be with you from on Kathmandu, and start the trek to Kagbeni, the main gate to Upper Mustang. Over night camping at Kagbeni.

Kagbeni situated at an altitude of 2807m is one of the important places since centuries. Kagbeni village was formed around 14th century as a check post for traders between Nepal and Tibet and still there is a checkpoint to control the groups departing toward Muktinath and Mustang, is the main gate to enter Mustang. There is a monastery, a Police check post and ACAP (Annapurna conservation area project) office inside this visit worthy village.

DAY 6 KAGBENI to CHAILE 3050 Meter.
The trail leads up toward the east bank of the Kaligandaki climbing over many ridges as it heads north and reaches Tangbe village. The town is a labyrinth of narrow alleys amongst white washed houses, fields of buckwheat, barley, wheat and apple orchards. The Nilgiri peak, dominates the southern skyline of Kagbeni, will be enjoyed all the way by different shapes. Beyond Tangbe we reach Chhusang village in about 1/2 hrs trek and crosses the river and continues north climbing up to a huge red chunk of conglomerate that has fallen from the cliff above, forming a tunnel through which the Kaligandaki follows. The trek now leaves the Kali Gandaki valley and climbs steeply up a rocky gully to Chaile at 3030 Mt. From here the culture changes from the Manangi culture to the Tibetan culture of Lo.

DAY 7 CHAILE to GELING 3500 Meter.
The climb continues along steep, treeless, waterless terrain, along the side of the spectacular steep canyon to a pass and cairn of rock at 3540 Mt. Then the trail makes a long gradual descent to some chortens on a ridge, and then descends further on a pleasant trail to Samar village. The Annapurna, still dominated by Nilgiri, is visible far to the south. Climb above Samar to a ridge, then descend into a large gorge and the trail goes into another valley field, crosses a stream and climbs up to a ridge at 3800 Mt. The route climbs over yet another pass, follows a ridge and then descends to Shyangmochen. From there gently climb to a pass at 3770m and descend to Geling Village.

DAY 8 GELING to CHARANG 3620 Meter.
From Geling village the trail climbs gently up to an interesting pass NYI LA and descends below the blue, gray and red cliffs. After crossing a steel bridge of the Tangmar Chu (river) you will arrive to a MANI WALL perhaps the longest and most spectacular MANI wall in Nepal. Climbing over another pass at 3600m, the route makes a long gentle descent to Charang village. The huge five-story white Dzong and red Gompa are the main attractions to visit to observe collections of statues and Thankas as well as many large paintings of seated Buddha's.

DAY 9 CHARANG to LO-MANTHANG 3840 Meter via LO-GEKAR. Take part in Tiji
This is an opportunity to visit two other villages on your trek. The trail climbs steadily until Lo-Gekar. Lo-Gekar Gompa is older than Samye Gompa in Tibet and one of the oldest Gompa of Nepal. After visiting Lo-Gekar continue trek to Lomanthang. The trail until Lo-Manthang is fine enough with some minor climbing. Finally from a ridge there is a view of the walled city of LO. After a short descent, cross a stream then climb up into the plateau of Lo-Manthang. On arrival, in the evning, we will participate in Tiji festival.

Tiji Festival at Lomanthang, a annual praying festival, is a prayer ceremony where the monks put on masks representing divine personages and perform ritual dances. The spectators of devotion come from villages of Lo-Manthang. It is a colourful occasion that takes place in the most spectacular of settings. The festival lasts for four days and is well attended by the people of Lo to witness and to get blessed and to gain sonam (Merit) in this important event. It’s also one important time of the year when the Mustangies prove their religious fervors and also a time to take out their best ornaments and dresses.
Up to the end of the 18th century Mustang (Tibetan sMon-thang) was the chief town of a provincial district known as Lo, which exceeded down the valley of the River Kali Gandaki as far south as Kagbeni.

Lo was a dependency of Nga-ri (Western Tibet) which in the 10th and 11th century consisted of 3 Kingdoms (Today the Northwest corner of Nepal).

There was a chain of a strongholds (all now in ruins) the whole length of the Kali Gandaki valley from Kagbeni to Mustang, and the Lords of these castles seem to have ruled as absolute masters in their own small domain. At the end of the 18th century the Gurkhalis extended their control over the whole Kaligandaki valley.

Even after a kin relation with Tibetan culture as well as language Lo supported Nepal in the war with Tibet in 1860, thus affirming its right to its ancient feudal system of Rajas and serfs. Serfdom was abolished in 1956. The title "Raja of Mustang" is still given to the Raja of Lo.

DAY 10 FULL DAY TEJI FESTIVAL
As all the important sites in this area is located within the capital wall it is very convenient to look around and will not take much time or effort. During the course of the day we will visit the 2 Buddhist shrines and a monastery, the Tibetan Medicine School, a local boarding school and if we are lucky the King of Mustang - Jigme Parbal Bista, in his Palace.

DAY 11 VISIT NAMGYAL GOMPA ON HORSE. And in the evening take part in Tiji
It takes around 2 hours to Namgyal Gompa. Namgyal Gompa situates on a hilltop, which serves as an important monastery of the local community and also as a local court. After visiting Namgyal Gompa continue the tour to Tingkhar, which is a village of around 40 houses, the last main village to the northwest of Lomanthang. After visiting Namgyal Gompa and Tingkhar return to Lomanthang.

DAY 12 VISIT THE VILLAGE OF CHHOSER. And in the evening take part in Tiji
Chhoser is one of the most interesting villages from where one can see all the side villages. On the way to Chhoser we will visit the village of Nyaphu, Gharphu, Nedar and Thubten Monastery. The villages in such an isolated land are amazing; the monasteries are attached or made inside the caves, once used as Khampa army hideouts and permanent houses of before 13th century. Thubten Monastery is located under a cliff, the main building is attached in the cliff and the monastic praying rooms are far inside the caves. After visiting Chhoser and other villages and monasteries return to Lomanthang.

DAY 13 LOMANTHANG - DHI 3410m.
From Lo-Manthang the trail walks straight till Dhi pass 4100m. and descends down to Dhi village. The trek from Lo Manthang to Muktinath is harder, but more rewarding and interesting than the west side of the valley. Dhi village is one of the best villages of whole Lomathang and it seems more prosperous and it is settled in a very suitable place.

DAY 14 DHI - YARA GARA – LURIGOMPA 4100m. – DHI.
After breakfast, trek to Luri Gompa via Yara and Ghara villages. It is a whole day's trip to go up to Monastery and return to Dhi. One can go even on horseback but it is recommendable to trek up and down.
Located above the villages of Yara and Ghara, Luri Gompa (Monastery) sits high above the crumbling landscape like an eagle's nest. It is some of the last cave monasteries in Lo and Tibet. No written record exists for the construction of Luri Gompa. Luri Gompa and some other monasteries are affiliated with the Kagyu sect (one of the sect of Buddhism). The style of painting suggests they were done by Nepalese (Newari) artists working for Tibetan patrons. The cave temple dates from the 13th - 14th century. The central chamber of the Gompa is carved out of the rock creating a domed ceiling on which are painted a series of Mahasiddha, Sakyamuni Buddha and Chenrezig figures etc, which are the true masterpieces. Lining the walls are series of 14th century paintings, which depict India Mahasiddahs. Some are real individual and other mythical.

DAY 15 DHI – TANGE 3370m.
From Dhi the trail goes through the river for around 2 hours and crosses a river from Damodar Kunda, one of the sacred lakes, there are no bridge on the river and need to deep the bare feet in the water to cross this river. After crossing the river the trail climbs up till high above a pass of 3850m. The trail goes through a grassless, treeless bare hill. After the pass the trail again drops directly to Tangbe village at an elevation of 3370m.Tangbe is a small village of around 30 houses but most of the houses are attached each other. On the rooftops one can see piles of dry woods, which also reflect the prosperity in their society.

DAY 16 TANGBE – CHA CHO LA PASS 4200m. - PA-KHOLA 4090m.
The trek begins with a fine trail for around one hour and crosses a river without bridge. After crossing the river the trail climbs high up till the Cha cho La pass. From Chacho la pass one can enjoy a wide range of mountains including Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, Tukche peak, Tilicho Peak and Thorang peak etc. On this elevation one can enjoy also many varieties of flowers and blue ship etc. After the pass the trail descends to Pa Khola. Pa Khola is sheepherders' camp.

DAY 17 PA KHOLA – TETANG 3022M.
From Pa the trail walks mostly straight with minor climbing and descends to the village of Tetang. The trail walks through a steep ridge of hill providing some fine views of wind carved hills. Continuing the trek you can see the village of Tetang. Tetang village is formed between 2 hills; they should have found it a safe place to avoid the strong wind that hits the entire Kaligandaki valley. Tetang is the upper village of the Chuksang, which we visit on the first day entering to Mustang from Kagbeni. From Tetang village it takes one day to go to Jomsom and a day to arrive to Muktinath.

DAY 18 TENTANG- GNYU PASS 4135 - MUKTINATH 3800m.
From Tatang village the trail climbs till the Gnyu Pass, which take around 3:30 hours. The entire route provides a fine panorama of the Himalayan range and green valley with many kinds of Himalayan flowers. From Gnyu Pass you can see the whole Muktinath area in a distance of 2 hours gentle walk.

The name Muktinath (god of salvation) is name of a Hindu’s god. Muktinath is a holy place for all the devotees. Every year thousands of devotees from Nepal, India and Tibet come to visit this place for the salvation and purification of their belief. History tells that many Kings of Asia visited the place for meditation and salvation. Muktinath is decorated by Mt. Nilgiri and Mt. Tilicho to the southeast, Daulagiri to the southwest and Thorang peak and Yakawa Kang to the north. It is one of the most important religious centers of both Hindus and Buddhist.

Muktinath – (known as Chhumig Gyatsa in Buddhist) is situated above 18-km northeast of Jomsom and altitude above 3800 meters above sea level. The local name for Muktinath is Chhumig Gyatsa (hundred waters spring). Both Hindu and Buddhists have visited Muktinath for hundreds of years and this place reflects a unique blend of Hinduism and Buddhism.

The Muktinath temple was constructed in 1815 AD by Queen Subarna Praba, the wife of Rana Bahadur Shaha, King of Nepal, after she had a dream. This temple is built in a Tibetan pagoda style and contains a huge brass idol of Lord Vishnu - or Chenrezig, as Buddhists call him. Not only are these deities present here but four basic elements - water, fire, earth and air - also coverage at Muktinath. Nearby is another temple where water gushes out of a rock and this water is considered even more holy. There is also a Buddhist Gompa in the eastern corner of Muktinath dedicated to "Jwala mai" (goddess of fire) - also known as the "Salamebar Dolamebar Gompa". In this place, shielded by curtains, are the outlets for the eternal burning flames. Some Hindus believe the flame to be Agni - the fire god.

There are another two temples nearby. They are the Shiva - Parvati temple, and a Narshingha Gompa where rituals are performed according to both Hindu and Buddhist customs. Here the two religions coexists together in a two-story structure, the lower storey is the Gompa while the upper storey is the temple. At the back of the temple one can also find 108 waterspouts (chhumig Gyatsa), fashioned in the shape of boars' heads, one of the ten incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The water from the spouts is considered to be holy water, which is believed to wash away negative deed or Karma, the result of one's past negative actions. This water is channeled from a stream running above the temple.

For Hindus, beside the Holy water, the importance of the Muktinath is in the belief that the incarnation of Lord Vishnu is in the form of Saligrams. Saligram are found in the water of Kaligandaki River, just a few hours walk from Muktinath.

The traditional caretakers of the Muktinath are the Tibetan Buddhist nuns with the head of the Gye Lhaki Dung as their abbot. The current abbot of the Muktinath is Lama Wangyal.

DAY 19 MUKTINATH – JOMSOM.
This is the last day of the trek. The trail goes through the village of Dzarkot where one can visit the Dzarkot monastery, Tibetan herbal medical center and the old fortress of Dzarkot, once served as palace. Continuing the trek toward Jomsom one will enjoy the view of the Kaligandaki valley and Kagbeni village the entry point to Mustang. We get a round trip of our trek in Ekle Bhatti visiting all the surprises of the human effort in this corner of the World of such an isolation and solitude. Arrive to Jomsom, celebrate the last day of the trek will in Jomsom with all the trekking staffs.

DAY 20 JOMSOM – POKHARA BY AIR.
Fly to Pokhara, drive to your Hotel in Pokhara. The trekking staffs except the guide will trek down till Pokhara and drive to Kathmandu, which will take 4 days. Lunch at Pokhara and rest day.

DAY 21 VISIT POKHARA
After breakfast visit Pokhara City including David’s fall, Tibetan refugee camp and its handicraft centre. In the evening drive to Fewa lake side and enjoy free time. This free time can be used by making an hours boating on Lake fewa enjoying the calm environment of sun-set time with the changing colors of the giant Himalayan range that cradles the Pokhara city.

Pokhara is one of the most beautiful cities of Nepal, to the mid-western region of Nepal. It is richly decorated by beautiful nature on earth. The most beautiful jewel of Pokhara mountain called Mt. Machhapuchhare with Mt. Annapurna and Lamjung.

By the 17th century Pokhara was part of the Kingdom of Kaski, one of the most powerful of central Nepal's Chaubise Rajaya or 24 Kingdoms. Kaski was ruled by a sub-branch of the Shah royal family. The hilltops surrounding Pokhara are dotted with the ruins of medieval stone forts (kot). Kaski and the rest of the Chaubise Rajaya were annexed by Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1786 and absorbed into the growing kingdom of Nepal. Around this time Pokhara developed into an important trade entrepôt, lying on major trails between both Jumla-Kathmandu and India-Tibet. Each winter, mule caravans arrived from the north, laden with bags of salt and wool from the Tibetan Plateau. These were exchanged in Pokhara for grain and goods carried in from Butwal by porter. As a major government centre in central Nepal, Pokhara has naturally become a focus of development. Progress has been accelerated because it's such a pleasant place for to visit and live. Pokhara is now the biggest tourist destination in Nepal outside of the Kathmandu Valley, drawing 30% of visitors to Nepal.

DAY 22 DRIVE TO KATHAMNDU –

DAY 23 FREE DAY AT KATHAMNDU. One can visit the medieval villages like Bhaktapur and Patan.

DAY 24 HAPPY DEPARTURE
Our office staff will arrive in your Hotel with transportation to take you until the departure gate of international airport of Kathmandu. Continue the rest of the distance on your own.

INCLUDES:
Airport pick up and departure services
4 Night Hotel at Kathmandu with Breakfast
Kathmandu to Pokhara and Kathmandu transportation (one way by air & one way by surface)
Pokhara to Jomsom and to Pokhara by air - 2 Night Hotel at Pokhara with breakfast
Sightseeing tour as applicable to the itinerary. - National Park entry fee, Guide, Cook, Kitchen boys, Sherpa, Porters and their insurance and expenses. Comfort in two men tent with all meals prepared by our own Sherpa cook. All necessary camping material such as Two men dome tent, dining tent, toilet tent, kitchen tent with all kitchen equipment, Dining table and chair, soft & hard Mattresses. 13 days Special trekking permit for Upper Mustang Domestic airport tax etc. All insurance and expenses of local staffs

EXCLUDES
Insurance, Nepal entry visa fee US$ 30.00, international airport tax NRS 1600.00 on departure, Hard and soft drinks during the trekking, telephone calls, laundry services, Tips and those which are not mentioned.


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