Mustang is a magical Shangrila beyond the Himalayas in Nepal. Reminiscent of a miniature Tibet, Mustang is filled with a diverse range of ecosystems, wildlife species, cultural traditions, and landscapes. The place was hidden in the mountains for several years until it opened its doors to the world in the 1990s, and that’s when people started to flock in to witness its exceptional natural and cultural beauty. This article guides you throughout the Mustang tour, including where to visit and what to do in this beautiful Himalayan kingdom.
Beyond the Annapurna Massif lies the land of Lower Mustang, the beautiful Himalayan kingdom full of natural and cultural beauty. Mustang is like a miniature Tibet left in Nepal; the people here are intertwined with Tibetan and Nepalese cultures. It shares its border with Tibet on its north and tallest mountains, including Dhaulagiri and Annapurna to the south. Mustang has its historical ties with Tibet as it used to be an ancient trading hub for Tibetans and Nepalese. Mustang seems like a place stuck in history with beautiful mountainsides, fields of barley, pastures of grazing yaks and goats, and villages dominated by Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan culture. It is divided into a lower and upper Mustang. The lower Mustang generally covers the Muktinath area, which has religious and cultural significance to Nepalese people. This article covers all the top places to visit and things to do in Lower Mustang
Top Places To Visit In Lower Mustang
Muktinath is a temple to Lord Vishnu and a sacred pilgrimage place for both Hindus and Buddhists. It is one of the highest temples in the world, located at an altitude of 3,800 m. Regarded as one of Nepal’s Char Dham, the place is also called Mukti Kshetra, which translates to “Liberation arena.” The temple is located in Muktinath Valley at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass in Mustang, Nepal. Muktinath has immense religious significance to both Hindus and Buddhists. The Hindus believe that the shrine of Sri Muktinath is one of the world’s eight most holy Vishnu shrines. The statue of Vishnu is made of gold and is housed inside a stone-made temple. In the courtyard, there are several small temples and statues. There are 108 bull-faced sacred taps with the water flowing, where devotees take their holy baths even when it’s freezing outside. It is believed that bathing in the taps would wash away all the sins of life.
Thak Khola Valley
Thak Khola valley is a transit zone between Himalayan plateaus in the north and Nepalese hills in the south. It lies in the caravan route that initially connected Nepal to Tibet. The valley is located in the upper part of Kaligandaki gorge, which is locally called Thak Khola. The indigenous group of Nepal, Thakali, is believed to originate from here. The Thak valley is bordered by the massive peaks of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. The place, formerly the primary marketplace for exchanging Tibetan salts for Nepalese grains, still appears to be a bustling commercial center. The Thakalis of Thak Khola have their own unique culture, festivals, and costumes due to the beautiful blending of Tibetan and Hindu practices. It’s the best place to stop by and enjoy the historical significance of the site, backed by beautiful scenery.
Jomsom Valley is the capital of the Mustang. The beautiful valley is surrounded by snow-peaked mountains, dry land, a mix of deserts, and lush hills. Apart from natural beauty, Jomsom is also enriched with cultural beauty. The Jomsom village is home to the beautiful Bon Monastery, chortens, and gompas. There are several places to visit in Jomsom valley, including, Kuchup Terenga Gompa, Thini Village, Mustang Eco Museum, and Gharab Dzong. You can experience Tibetan and Bon culture and lifestyle.
Dhumba Lake is a beautiful heart-shaped lake located approximately an hour’s walk from Jomsom. Looking out across Dhumba Lake, you can see the beautiful mountains of Thorong Peak and Nilgiri North to the east, Manapathi to the west, Dhaulagiri and Tukuche Peak to the south, and the settlement of Thini to the north. The pristine and serene lake is the perfect place to chill, enjoying the beautiful backdrop view of mountains
Kagbeni is a unique and well-known village in the Mustang district. The fascinating medieval village has mud houses with colorful prayer flags, dark alleys, prayer wheels, and huge Chhortens. The village looks like an ancient fortress town. Walking in Kagbeni feels like you have traveled back to the old time. It also has religious and cultural significance as it is the place
for Hindus to perform ancestral rituals.
Marpha is a magical and historical haven where you can find relics from an ancient past. Walking around the beautiful old village will take you back to the medieval period. The houses are made of stones, with doors and windows framed with cherrywood panels, Buddhist prayer flags, and monasteries around the corner; Marpha is like a piece of ancient art that is still
preserved to this date. Besides its natural and historical beauty, Marpha is also known for its apple orchards. The Marpha apples are juicy and delicious, and their apple products are top-notch.
Rupse Jharana is a beautiful waterfall located on the way to Jomsom, Mustang. The magnificent waterfalls descend from more than 300 meters drizzling around the rocks. It’s a quick water retreat on the way to the deserty place.
Kali Gandaki River
One of the holiest rivers in Nepal, Kali Gandaki, flows through the Mustang between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains. The river is named after the Hindu Goddess Kali, associated with death and destruction. The Kali Gandaki Gorge is the deepest gorge in Nepal. Also, you can find shaligrams: black fossiled stones found on the banks of the river.
Things To Do In Lower Mustang
Hiking and Trekking
Mustang Trek is one of the famous treks to enjoy the geographical enrichment of Nepal. As you proceed through the trek, you can go seeing from lush green hills to barren mountains. The Mustang trek is not as popular as it used to be since the construction of the pitched road. But, trekking to Mustang has a different aura as you get to embrace and explore the beauty and authentic image of Mustang on each step you take. If trekking seems impossible, you should definitely go hiking on this Trans Himalayan plateau.
Two major mountains of Nepal, Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, embed the Mustang valley. You can
experience mountaineering and reach Annapurna base camp witnessing the stunning views of other surrounding mountains such as Fishtail, Hiunchuli, Annapurna Massif, Dhaulagiri, Tilicho, Pisang, and Pungda Danda
Watch Nepali Desert
Though Nepal does not have any sand desert, Mustang is regarded as the desert of Nepal. This region lies beyond the mountain range and, thus, receives less rainfall as the mountains block the monsoon air. This is why Mustang has a big, dry valley with many gorges and colorful rock layers, and barren highland deserts. On the way to Muktinath temple from the Jomsom valley, you can witness these beautiful natural desert-like landscapes, which are the wonder of nature.
Holy Water Bath In Muktinath
In Muktinath temple, there are 108 sacred taps where people would take showers and then dip into two ponds. It is believed that the 108 taps are the products of 12 Zodiacs and 9 Planets, so bathing from all these taps is believed to wash away all our sins and makes us healthy and prosperous. You should definitely bathe on these taps. Who knows, you might gain salvation
Trying Apple Products
Marpha is the apple orchard where tasty and juicy apples are cultivated. Due to the excessive production of apples in this area, the locals have started producing several apple products, including apple wine and juice branded as a Marpha drink and dried apple locally called sukuti. So on a visit to Marpha gau, you can try the local mustang products of apples, which are
organic and full of flavors.
Horse Riding Tour
Horses are still the popular means of transportation in the Mustang. So, if you want more adventure in your trip, go for a horse riding trek from Jomsom to the upper Mustang or a horseback ride trip. You don’t need prior experience in horse riding. The horses in Mustang are friendly, and you will be guided on how to ride them.
Trying Out Local Cuisin
People from the Thakali, Gurung, and Mustang groups live in the area from lower to upper Mustang. During your trek, we recommend that you try some of the local foods, like Tibetan bread, Khapse, Marpha, and local tea mixed with salt and butter. You should also try Yak
cheese and other Yak products.
The bike ride at Mustang is one of the world’s most adrenaline-filled bike rides. The journey begins from Muktinath, where you will be provided with mountain bikes to choose from and the necessary tools to descend to Jomsom. Bikers can witness the majestic Nilgiri and Dhaulagiri peaks, deserty landscapes, and Himalayan terrains in between these destinations.
If you’re looking for a thrilling and exciting experience, Kali Gandaki rafting is a must. Flow like water from Mustang Himal to the valley between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. The Annapurna mountain range is only one of the many sights to see on a rafting trip down the Kali Gandaki River, which also has several waterfalls, remote villages, thrilling rapids, stunning beaches, and
more. Experience awe and wonder as you raft along this holy river.
Experience First Hand Bon Culture
Mustang has long preserved the Bon culture and tradition. Bon religion is an indigenous native religion in Tibet. Many people mistakenly identify Bon culture with Tibetan culture. They’re similar in some ways yet very distinct from one another. Bon was supposedly one of Tibet’s indigenous cultures, predating the arrival of Buddhism. The Bon people use a blend of shamanism and ancient rites in their culture. You can experience the unique Bon culture in Mustang
Checkout: Top Places To Visit In Nepal (Recommended)