Geographically a part of the Tibetan Plateau, Upper Mustang lies within the boundaries of Nepal. A former monarchy and an independent state, Upper Mustang was annexed into Nepal in the 18th Century. It occupies almost two third of the entire Mustang district.
An isolated region, it was opened for tourists only in 1992. It’s discreet nature has managed to keep the local traditions and culture alive for centuries. Geographically and culturally, Mustang still resembles Tibet, and almost everyone speaks Tibetan.
It falls within the protected regions of Nepal, therefore, you must obtain special permit before trekking to Upper Mustang, however, the permit is costly and the tourists’ movement is heavily regulated.
Lo Manthang is a walled city and the capital of Upper Mustang. Formerly the capital of the Kingdom of Lo, it was founded by Ame Pal in 1380. The city is renowned for its white washed mud brick walls, stupas, cultural relics and the palace of the former King of Mustang, Raja Jigme Dorge Palabar Bista.
The last monarch still resides in his palace inside Lo Manthang. And, if you re lucky, you can pay him a visit during your travel to Mustang. The city is surrounded by arid landscape with less or none vegetation, mainly because, the city lies above 3,500 meters.
Facts about Mustang
- Buddhism is a predominant religion in this region. The earliest inhabitants were known to be the adherents of Bon religion, a faith which predates Buddhism.
- Upper Mustang is dominated by the mountain caves, which were supposedly 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.
- The last monarch,Raja Jigme Dorje Palabar Bista still resides in his palace in Lo Manthang.
- Mustang was known to have rich deposits of radioactive elements, mainly Uranium.
- It is a rain-shadow area, hence, it receives least rainfall, and it can be traveled through the year.
- The total population of the region hardly exceeds 16,000 inhabitants.