The Last Forbidden Himalayan Kingdom: Mustang
The upper mustang trek follows the ancient caravana Route through the Himalayas to the lowlands. The goal of the Upper Mustang Trek is to reach Lo-Manthang; The capital of the Buddhist isolated from the World. It lies on the rain Shadow of the Dhaulagiri Himalaya so there is no Monsoon. Upper Mustang is the restricted northern part of Nepal’s Mustang District It consists of seven Village Development Committes (Nepal’s smallest democratic units) with 31 settlemets.
The restricted area includes the historic kingdom of Lo Tsho Dyun, which translates as ‘Seven Districts of Lo’ in the local Tibetan dialect (Loke). The area of Bahragaon, meaning ‘Twelve Villages’ in Nepali, extends from south of Ghilling to north of Jomsom and also falls largely inside Upper Mustang. Tibetan dialect (pheke) prevails here, too. However, the people of Tangbe, Chhuksang, Tetang, Tsaile and Ghyaker instead speak Seke, a language closely related to thakali.
The Buddhist society of Upper Mustang is divided into groups comparable to the castes of hindu culture. The occupational castes, regarded as the lowest, comprise the Ghara, Shemba and Emeta (blacksmiths, butchers and musicians respectively). The highland nomads, called Drokpa, take an outsider’s position of slightly higher status. The middle class consists of the Phalwa, who now often prefer to call themselves Gurung. The Kudak, who have adopted the Nepali name Bista for their clan, make up the nobility and royal family of Lo Tsho Dyun.
Before the closure of the border, winter was the time for trade with Tibet. Now days, the greater part of Upper Mustang’s villagers trek south after the October harvest and spend the cold months earning livelihood in Pokhara, Kathmandu or India. Still, there is also some barter with the Tibetan neighbours, but heavily regulated by the Chinese. Only few locals profit from the controlled influx of foreign tourists.