Tiji festival is a local event of Lo Manthang at Mustang, and is celebrated every year during May. It marks the special occasion in the Vajrayana Buddhist calendar.
Tiji or Tenji is an annual event indigenous to the Lo Manthang region of Mustang. The walled city of Lo Manthang was also known as the capital of Upper Mustang. It celebrates the victory of Buddha’s incarnation, Dorji Sonam, over the demon ‘MA TAM RU TA,’ a wax-man eater who caused storms and droughts to destroy the livelihood of commoners.
Mustang is a restricted region, and entering it requires a special pass provided by the government of Nepal. A trek leading from Jomsom and passing through Kagbeni will take you to the Walled city. The last monarch of the region can still be found residing in his palace inside the walled city.
Tiji Festival is going to be celebrated on 23, 24 & 25 May, 2017.
The history of Tiji Festival in Mustang goes back to the 17th century. King Samdup Rabten invited Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga Sinam in Lo Manthang. The Sakya resided as the Chhode Monastery and performed special Vajrakila ritual for the well being of all sentient being and dispelled negative vibes from Mustang.
He started a special dance “Chaam” related with the meditation of Vajrakila. Since then, monks of Chhode monastery perform the dance every year.
The event lasts 3 days, during which the Royal family of Mustang and all the villagers of seven provinces of Upper mustang (Lo Chhodun) gather together to celebrate.
Originally, it was supposed to be performed at the last part of the twelfth month of Tibetan calendar, however, nowadays it is performed during the last part of the third Tibetan month (May).
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.
Typical houses in Mustang
A chorten is a common site in the Mustang region
Lo Manthang, Royal Palace
Trekkers passing through a field
A trekker walking at Mustang
Upper Mustang Panorama
Canyons in Mustang
A monk posing in front of a monastery
Mustangi Mule is a common form of transportation
Rain shadow area
High wall caves
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.
One of the most favorite outdoor activity in Nepal, trekking has been the primary option for the adventure lovers. A physically exhilarating experience, trek comprises of days of walking at a certain location for the adventure or holidaying.
With increasing accessibility to various destinations in Nepal, more people flow to taste the trekking experience. Over 400,000 tourist visit Nepal every year for the sole purpose of trekking. Today, domestic airlines, well-paved roads and choices of vehicles have made the journey far easier for the tourists.
Trekking in Nepal
Ever since, Late Col. Jimmy Roberts“Father of Trekking” founded the first trekking company in Nepal in 1964, Nepal started receiving international audiences for trekking.
Along with commercialization of Everest expedition, tourism industry in Nepal gave birth to commercial operators for operating trekking. Within a decade, it became a mainstream business and one of the major contributor in GDP.
With advent of public-private participation, the promotion for trek routes around the country has been easier; along with helping to empower local villages. Today, there are over 1,500 trek agencies in Nepal, and hundreds of local travel agents.
Popular Trek Trails
Some of the most popular trek destinations in Nepal are as follows;
Everest Base Camp is by far the most popular trek destination in Nepal. The region receives over 40,000 trekkers a year, however, the difficulty in finding local flight to Lukla and back poses difficulty for the tourists to visit the region.
Located at 5,300 m (17,600 ft) at the southern side of the Mount Everest, the base camp offers greater trekking experience. Gokyo trail and Three Passes are another two popular trek destinations in the Everest region.
Everest Base Camp
A trekker posing at Everest base camp memorial site
Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Base Camp are two most popular trek destinations in the Annapurna region. The circuit was voted one of the best long treks in the world, whereas, Annapurna base camp is popular among every age.
A relatively shorter trek, the base camp offers immense natural and cultural riches, along with the closest view of Mt. Machhapuchhre. The circuit is undertaken by mostly the trekkers looking to spend more time on trail.
Annapurna I seen from te base camp
Machhapuchhre seen from ABC
At Thorong La Pass
The pass to Manang
Langtang National Park is another popular trek destinations. It’s located at the closer proximity to the Annapurna circuit, however, the region offers completely different perspective on the sightseeing. It’s a discreet region, hence, most of the places are still yet unexplored.
The region was utterly devastated during the major Earthquake of 2016, however, it has been rebuilt and is now open for the tourists.
Yala Peak, Langtang National Park
Lake Gosainkunda, a holy lake
Langtang mountain range
#4 Upper Mustang
A rain-shadow area, Upper Mustang is accessible throughout the year. The region is culturally and geographically closer to the Tibet, hence, the entire population is ardent Buddhist follower. Before Buddhism, the population was entirely Bon follower.
Mustang is a protected region, therefore, there is a limited access to enter the region. Tiji festival is one of the highlight of this trek.