Mustang Trekking Route
Mustang RouteThe route to Lo Manthang is the continuation of the walk to Muktinath and can easily be combined with it. The small principality of Mustang is an enclave of Tibetan culture which until recently had only been entered by a small number of foreigners. Among them were the Englishman David Snellgrove and the Frenchman Michel Peissel. At the beginning of 1992 the region was opened up to tourism with only groups being legally allowed to enter. Mustang is interesting for its own individual culture and its local breeds of horses and dogs. Not too much interest should be shown in these giant dogs as they fulfil their duty as guard dogs with a passion one would do better not to experience.A special permit is required for Mustang which is expensive. The money is intended to fund the development of an infrastructure in Mustang. Basically, only groups who are accompanied by a cook, bearers and an escort officer are allowed.There is not yet a comprehensive network of accommodation and restaurants, so tents and basic provisions must be carried. Basic foodstuffs such as tsampa, tea, chang and occasionally Tibetan bread are available.Kagbeni lies on the route from Jomsom to Muktinath. This is the border with the former forbidden area, at a control post the necessary permits to visit Mustang are checked. From Kagbeni the route follows the right bank of the Kali Gandaki as far as Chomnang, crosses the river and climbs up to the monastery at Ghyakar, following the main road as it ascends to Tsarang.The huge chorten at the entrance to Tsarang are in themselves indicative of the importance of its situation on the ancient trade route to Tibet. This impression is reinforced by the spacious houses, a large stupa, the gompa and the enormous, if empty, princes' palace. The red and white painted gompa is in an exposed position and determines to a large extent the character of the town. The sacred room of the gompa with its wall paintings and valuable thangkas hanging from the ceiling is interesting. The village is situated on a plain above the valley of the Kali Gandaki and is surrounded by green fields. In Tsarang a newly-opened hotel and a traditional guest house run by the family of a local prince offer board and lodging. The usual custom applies in the guest house: when ordering food a bed for the night is also implicit.East of Tsarang is the famous place of pilgrimage Lo Gekar with its monastery which looks more like an ordinary residential house. The rooms on the upper floor are of interest containing stone pictures in wooden frames.It is a good one day walk west of Tsarang to the legendary Luri Gompa, an ancient monastery in a beautiful setting. The monastery consists of a community of seven monks of the Kagyü sect who traditionally have long hair. The ancient gompa is in one of numerous caves and is noteworthy for its old wall paintings in perfect condition.From Tsarang the main road rises and falls gently on its way to Lo Manthang. The view of Lo from a distance is unique. The compactly built town lies on a plain and is surrounded by massive walls. They encircle the old Princes' Palace, some chorten, which mark the entrance, in addition to three gompas.The most impressive of the gompas is consecrated to Avalokiteshvara and was once the center of the most important monastery of the Sakyapa sect. Alongside the considerable height of the gompa the frescoes depicting the five Dhyani buddhas are remarkable. Unfortunately the valuable wooden decorations on the gompa are in a very poor condition.Nearby there is another gompa with a large religious symbol of the Maitreya. At the other end of the town is the Sarba gompa which following its renovation was called "new monastery". The monastery was also founded by the Sakyapa.