Previously known as the Kingdom of Lo, the traditional Upper Mustang region comprises northern two-thirds of the present-day Mustang district. Mustang is a remote semi-independent Tibetan Kingdom north of the Annapurna Mountain and Dhaulagiri Mountains and is one of the last bastions of undisturbed Tibetan culture.
It was only opened to westerners in 1992. That’s why it is referee as the forbidden kingdom of Nepal. The literal meaning of Mustang is “Fertile Plain” and trek to upper mustang takes you to the hidden world of the old Buddhist kingdom of Lo. Mustang was once an independent kingdom which was closely knit with Tibet.
Its history dated back to 15th century where it is considered to be strategic location of and Mustang control over the trade between the Himalayas and India. Definitely, it confines some pristine natural beauty, along with typical Nepalese remote lifestyle. And it is one of the off beaten trekking trails of Nepal.
At the end of the 18th century the kingdom was annexed by Nepal. Though still recognized by many Mustang residents, the monarchy officially ceased to exist from 2008 with the order of Government of Nepal.
The last official and current unofficial King (Gyelpo) is Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista (born.1933), who traces his lineage directly back to Ame Pal, the warrior who founded this Buddhist kingdom in 1380.
Ame Pal oversaw the founding and building of much of the Lo and Mustang capital of Lo Manthang, a walled city that still remains frozen in time.
Lo once served as an important route for crossing the Himalaya between Tibet and Nepal where many of the old salt caravans passed through. Meanwhile traveling to Tibet from this part of Nepal was bit ideal during those times. You find yourself amidst narrow alleys, township, monasteries, traditional customs, rich culture, arid landscape and more in upper mustang.
If you are lucky enough, you might as well visit the former king of Mustang and his 4-storey high palace. Tibetan-Buddhist monasteries such as Thugchen Gompa, Amchi Museum, Amchi School (traditional medicinal school) and the caves at Garphu add to the mystique magnetism of Mustang.
Basically, trekking on the path of upper mustang can be considered as the religious and spiritual tours of Nepal. The route entails traveling across desert-like landscape, barren ridges, deep canyons, eroded cliffs and moraine valleys against continuous strong winds.
Hidden behind the majestic Himalayan ranges, Mustang truly is a beautiful trekking zone. Special area trekking permits are required by trekkers when they visit this region.
How to get Upper Mustang permit?
You need to have permission before entering the upper mustang. And Just to make your tour more relax and hassle-free, there is an option for the tailor-made trip, where you could design your trip.
- Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit for all foreigners: US $500 per person for the first 10 days and US $50 per person per day thereafter.
- ACAP entry permit fee for foreigners: 3,000 NPR (Approx. US $30)
- ACAP entry permit fee for SAARC nationals: 200 NPR
Nevertheless, the forbidden kingdom never fails to charm visitors from all over the world with its picturesque views of the Himalayas and high Tibetan plateau, warm hospitality of Thakalis & Goring communities, ecological diversity, primitive villages, cave hermitages, ancient chortans, monasteries and arid desert like savannah. Meanwhile, along with upper mustang, we have covered 7 hidden trek of Nepal that you probably never heard of.