What do you do when your helicopter ride to the mountains get revoked? You book a Jeep and take a heavenly drive to the Mountains.Traveling has always been a part of me . This year ‘2019’ I have pledged myself to travel every once in four weeks. It is as challenging as fascinating it sounds, Especially when you’re a student with no time and source of income.On 11th of January, 2019 , I packed my bags for an expedition that I will remember till I reach the evening of my life.The goal was to set foot on the land of Muktinath, a sacred place amidst the rugged rocks capped with snow also known as the Himalayas with a precipitous stream flowing from the mountains across the district named the Kali Gandaki gorge, the deepest gorge in the world.We cruised all the way from Pokhara to Lower Mustang covering places like Dhampus – Baglung – Beni – Tatopani – Ghasa – Larjung -Tukucue – Marpha – Lete- Jomsom – Kagbeni -Muktinath.The diverse landscapes and cultures to be found along the routes give marvelous insight into the way of life of rural Nepali people.Road map of what our trip looked like.I was traveling with a bag full of excitement, curiosity and a sense of enigma. I have always had a huge crush on the Himalayas, which kept me wondering how it would feel to watch the impermeable massif with my naked eye.The wheels stumped from high pitched roads to steep and craggy hills. As we moved forward , we passed Icy rivers with a scenic view of mesmerizing waterfalls & great canyons, the temperature got frigid and the roads were turning out to be very perilous.In no time we hit dusk. Terror started developing in our minds when we had to choose directions on our own with no living soul around. We had given up on our hopes, when an old man helped us choose our way into the mountains. In no time we realized that we were moving alongside the stream flowing right next to us. We stumbled upon the idea of going wherever the river leads us to, and guess what in no time we reached a village where we could snuggle up for the night.I got out of the car to see if there was any one around, and guess what? I saw a house with lights on. It was a homestay run by an old couple . We rushed to the place and managed to get a room for the night . While the old lady was cooking for us, the old man was making sure we were warm and comfortable. He mentioned how lucky we were to find them, as there was no way we would have been able to survive the night out in the cold when the temperature was as low as -16°C.I crawled up to my bed , with no sign of sleep in me. I opened up the window to take a glance at the sky , just to know that I was sleeping under the sky where gazillions stars were squeezing against each other to shine out bright.Oh what a starry night it was.I then believed that I was away from all the hustle and bustle of the city , in an isolated corner of Earth where mother nature was at it’s true form.We left our hotel before it hit dawn to continue our journey .
Mustang formerly known as the Kingdom of Lo is one of the seventy seven districts of Nepal. Mustang is divided into two major parts the lower mustang and the upper mustang. Before 1992 the upper mustang was a demilitarized area and was forbidden to visit for foreigners.This makes it one of the most preserved regions in the world, with a majority of the population still speaking traditional Tibetic languages. Tibetan culture has been preserved by the relative isolation of the region from the outside world.GETTING THERE : There are two modes of transportation available to reach mustang. (i) Road : It takes 10 hours approx to reach mustang from pokhara. There is no pitch road available. Traveller's have the choice of either taking a local bus from pokhara or hiring a private taxi for reaching there. (ii) Air : Travellers can also take a flight from pokhara to reach mustang. It takes 25 min from pokhara to reach jomsom through flight.Flights are taking off daily from pokhara to jomsom. However there is one more way to reach mustang that is through trekking. The trekking starts from pokhara. Places to Visit : Mustang is known for its ancient Tibetan culture and practices. For knowing mustang properly the upper mustang trek is highly recommended. The trekking for upper mustang starts from jomsom and is usually for 7-10 days. An Upper Mustang trek is same as to trekking in Tibet, as in nature it is a division of the Tibetan highland. Cave : There are lots of in Upper Mustang. Some of them are well travel around while some are still strange to the outer globe. Chhoser cave is amazing, with 50 plus individual rooms and 4 individual level, all of which are linked by a ladder. In the history people lived in the cave, rather than in villages. You have to purchase a ticket to enter the cave and a domestic guide will accompany you on your cave trip.Lo manthang : Lo Manthang, the last big settlement in the Mustang North, is the capital of Upper Mustang. It is generally called as the “City of Clay” and “City of wall”. In the past, to save the Kingdom of Lo, a big wall was built around the village, and everyone was needed to construct their homes within this wall. Lo Manthang was separated into 4 quarters.Now, as the population grows, there is no ample area inside the wall and you can find several new homes outside the wall. Today, a large resort is also under construction under the administration of former crown price of Lo Manthang.Muktinath Temple : Muktinath is a holy pilgrimage place for both Buddhist and Hindu devotees and is the beginning point of the salt trading route. At a height of estimated 3,700 metres above sea level, this place is seen as the holiest location on planet. According to Hindu mythology, the universe is a combination of 5 elements, and all the 5 elements exist in Muktinath.The important temple is for Lord Vishnu, which is the big attraction of Mukitnath. For Buddhists there is a Samba Gompa. Further, there is nonstop flame inside Jwalamai Temple. Muktinath North at Damodar Kunda, ammonites can be found. Monastries : Upper Mustang is often addressed as “little Tibet”. Monasteries are a vital part of daily life in this place, and there are many of them – each town has their own cultural diversity. In Lo Manthang itself, there are 3 old monasteries, with the oldest one, known as The God House, being seven hundred years old.Naturally, there are remarkable stories behind the monasteries. Your hotel in Lo Mangtang will provide you a free domestic guide for the day – a best window in the domestic culture – and can also arrange a meeting with the King of Lo Manthang. Exactly, with the changing polities of the Nepal, he is longer viewed by the administration as a King but to the domestic people, he remains Royal.
Being one of the world’s greatest archaeological mysteries, the Mustang Caves lie in one of the most remote and isolated regions in the Himalayas. The landscape is unlike anything else found in Nepal, with strangely sculptured rock formations comprised of nearly 10,000 den openings perched more than 150 feet above the ground.It is unknown who dug them, since whoever did would have had to scale a near vertical rock to do so, a task almost impossible to accomplish by even experienced climbers. No one knows what their purpose was either, with theories ranging from living quarters to burial chambers. A visit to this mysterious spot will definitely leave you amazed, and equally confused.
The Upper Mustang trek can also be called a peek into the hidden world of Buddhist kingdom of Mustang, also called Lo. Lo used to be a part of the Tibetan empire, and is therefore very closely related to Tibet; not only the culture, also the landscape is very much related to Tibet. Surrounded by rocks in all kinds of colors and bizarre formations, Mustang is mostly a barren landscape where the villages with their bright colored fields are like Oasis in the deserts. Mustang lies in the shadow of the Dhaulagiri region and is a complete desolate landscape. The culture of the people living there is one of the major attractions for tourists and visitors alike.