The Last Forbidden tibetan Kingdom: Mustang

Upper Mustang, Nepal - China border

The landscape of Upper Mustang is indescribably beautiful, eroded cliffs, red-walled monasteries and snow-capped peaks, bathed in hues of orange and red rocks. This stunning area is inhabited by the magnificent snow leopard, the endangered Bharal (blue sheep) and the mythical Yeti (abominable snowman).

"Mustang is one of the few places in the Himalayan region that has been able to retain its traditional Tibetan culture unmolested… authentic Tibetan culture now survives only in exile and a few places like Mustang, which have had long historical and cultural ties with Tibet." - His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Nestled in the Himalayas at 13,000 feet, Mustang is a Tibetan kingdom that falls within the boundaries of Nepal. Its capital, Lo Manthang, is a medieval walled city, within which the Tiji festival—a purification ritual—takes place at the beginning of every harvest season. The origins of the festival predate Buddhism, born out of an animistic and shamanistic tradition. You can accompanied the voyeurs of a living history; the costumes and dance steps of the Tiji festival have remained the same for over 600 years during your this trip.

Because of its isolation and unique alliances with the leaders of Nepal, the semi-feudal kingdom represents perhaps the purest existent Tibetan culture in the world. The history of Tibet itself is an imbroglio of warring sects, involving the sublimation and destruction of kingdoms, all incited by the significant doctrinal differences between them. The Kingdom of Mustang remains a thriving testament to the Red Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism (unlike the Yellow Hat sect to which the Dalai Lama belongs) and is the only surviving continuous Tibetan monarchy, currently ruled by a direct descendent of the very first king.

Photography by Michael Svec



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