Mustang, Nepal gets its name from the Tibetan term “mun tan”, which is translated as “fertile plain”. It is found between Dolpo and Manang north of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. The people in the place are mostly Buddhists. Long ago, it was part of the Kingdom of Lo, which is now called Upper Mustang. In 2008, this kingdom was overthrown after the Kingdom of Nepal was overthrown. Upper Mustang occupies approximately two-thirds of the entire Mustang District.
The primary sources of livelihood are animal husbandry, tourism, and trade. Tourism, being one of the major sources of income of the place, only started in 1992 when tourists finally were allowed to enter the area. However, visitors are still regulated by requiring them to get permits costing $50 per day. Today, many tourists go to Mustang, Nepal every year, with the bulk of them arriving on the month of October. The local culture, which for a long time was isolated from the rest of the world, is now slowly changing because of the influence of the outside world particularly China.
However, Lo Manthang, the walled capital of Mustang, is still being ruled by a Buddhist king. In this place, life stays the same as before. People raise cattle and plant potatoes and barley. The architecture in the walled city is striking. The king’s five-story palace and the people’s whitewashed houses made of bricks show very distinct designs. The walled city houses four major temples. There are a limited number of tourists allowed in Lo Manthang.
Mustang, Nepal is situated in the rain shadow region of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri so it does not receive as much rain as other regions. Its average precipitation is just 250 to 400 millimeters. Unlike other places in Nepal where you see lush greens and colorful Rhododendrons, Mustang landscape is generally dry and barren with cold, strong winds during the day.
When you go trekking to Mustang, you will not see any tree along the trail. But the surrounding scenery is still wonderful, and from the valley you will see at least 35 mountains rising more than 6,000 meters high. The trekking routes in Mustang are at least 2,815 meters to 3,780 meters high. The trail is comparatively easy. The best part of any Mustang trek is being able to see and experience Tibetan culture.
A new highway traverses Mustang and connects it to Tibet Autonomous Region on the north and to other areas of Nepal on the south. This highway is the lowest drivable entrypoint cutting through the Himalayan mountains and connecting the Tibetan Plateau through the plains of India.
Trekking to Mustang, Nepal will surely give you a different kind of experience. You will be amazed at its different kind of landscape and you will be fascinated and intrigued by the Tibetan culture. A visit to the Hidden Kingdom will open your eyes to the old way of life in this part of the world and will give you a lot of historical insights. You will also be amazed at the distinctive architecture in Lo Manthang, the last remaining fragment of the old kingdom.