Mustang lies behind the High Himalayas in the northern part of western Nepal. It is geographically, culturally, ethically and religiously closer to Tibet than to other parts of Nepal. Mustang district can be known for two kinds namely Upper Mustang and Lower Mustang. All the villages to the north of Kagbeni belongs to Upper Mustang. Special permit (USD 500 per person for 10 Days) is required for every foreigners to visit upper region of Mustang. Locally upper Mustang is known for “Lo Tsho Dyun” which means seven valleys in Tibetan Language.
Upper Mustang was ruled by Mustang Raja (Lo Gyalpo) since 13th century by Ama Pal (first Lo King) until 2008 AD, the Lo King lost his royal title when Nepal became a republic country after the centuries-old monarchy. Upper Mustang consist of following villages. Lo Tsho Dyun consists of 33 villages in total which are explained briefly below without missing even a very small village with single house.
Planning trip to Upper Mustang and need help?
I. Lo Manthang
Lo Manthang is one of must visit landmarks of Mustang region in Nepal. This ancient walled city was a capital of Lo Kingdom in the past and now it is center for the local administration of Lo Manthang Rural Municipality. This historic town of Lo is indeed a wonder to behold. There are three centuries old monasteries within the town which cost 1000 Nepalese rupees for entrance ticket of all monasteries. Jampa Monastery (Jampa Lhakhang) provide impressive view of surrounding valleys, mountains and fascinating neighboring rooftops. Inside wall of monastery there are mandala murals on three directions. Northern wall of the monastery is occupied by the 15 meters tall statue of future Buddha (Maitreya). Thupchen Gompa consist of both wall paintings and some of the oldest statues such as avalokisteswara (Chenresig), Vairocana, Guru Rinpoche, Sakyamuni Buddha, etc. The painting restoration is still going on till date (2021). Chode Monastery is home to all the monks of Lo-Manthang who perform Tiji Festival Mask dance every year between April and May. The main prayer hall’s walls are covered with the painting of fearsome protective deity Mahakala, Panch Buddha, and other dharma protectors. There are numbers of statues of God and Goddess which are made from bronze, brass, copper and even gold. Mustang Raja’s (King) palace is also another monuments to visit. Each one different sites are fascinating in its own right.
Charang (Tsarang) is the former capital of Lo located at the height of 3575 meters. It is the second largest village in Upper Mustang, after Lo Manthang. The old palace and Tsarang Monastery perched on the edge of the eastern cliff hill, overlooking the surrounding fields and main village. The monastery is from 14th centuries and still it stand impressively on the edge of village and visible from every corner of the village. Charang is three hours walk from Ghami and 4-5 hours walk from Lo-Manthang. At present it is the center for local administration of Dalome rural municipality.
III. Ghami/ Ghemi
Ghami one of the nice village for cultivation which is warmer in temperature than villages around Lo-Manthang. The village is about 2 hours walk from Ghiling via karki la (4020 meters) and 3 hours by Nyi la (4000 meters) through jhaite tea shop and lodge. Ghami (Ghemi) is home to a few tea houses and local homes, and surrounded by trees and fields. In the summer buckwheat and mustard fields make this village more beautiful. Within the village there are prayer wall, colorful Chortens, old monastery and alleys. The longest mane wall of Nepal lies here with the backdrop of beautiful cliff grey, ochre and red in color.
Chosar valley is in the east of Lo-Manthang town. It is actually a name of valley and it includes many individual villages such as Arka, Bacha, Garphu, Nyiu and Shija. Chosar was popular for side trek around Lo-Manthang and now a days there are few lodges where you can stay overnight, Shelkar guest house and Lo- Chosar Guest House. Normally many traveler visit only few sites like multi-story Jhong Caves, Niphu Gompa and Garphu Gompa because of the limited 10 days permit. We highly recommend you to visit these lesser visited places of Rinchenling and Kunchokling. Keep two days for Chosar in your itinerary where you can visit another two interesting places of Rinchenling (really old painting of mandala inside the cave) and Kunchokling (outstanding landscape that you will experience nowhere in other part of Nepal). Whether you will visit all the sites of Chosar or only few of them, the single entry ticket cost is same (1000 Nepalese Rupees).
V. Thinggar/ Thingkar village
Thinggar is the most popular village in Chhonhup valley, western valley of Lo-Manthang. This village lies on the slope hill overlooking toward the neighboring villages and fields. The view of the Thingkar/Thinggar from Phuwa gaon looks similar formation of Potala of Lhasa, Tibet. The summer palace of Lo King lies in Thinggar and it is protected well and it was destroyed in 2015 earthquake. In 2019 the restoration work was going on. Back in the Lo King’s regime every disputes and problems were solve at Thinggar Palace by the Lo Gyalpo. There are two ruined Bonpo monasteries on the south west of village. There is village monastery which was owned by nuns decades ago under the management authorizes of Namgyal Gonpa. Now a days it is solely belongs to village and every family is responsible to take care of it by keeping the key, cleaning, offering butter lamp and water in the morning. During the religious ceremony one of their member from each family must participate in it. Some of the major religious ceremonies like Saga Dawa, summer retreat (Nyungnye), and Tsechu (Guru Rinpoche’s puja).
VI. Yara village
Yara is the next village from Dhi gaun that takes 40 minutes by walk. It is located on the hill top on the left side of the dry river that origin from Luri Gompa area. This village is warmer than other villages of the Upper mustang. Geographers said that there is lake under this village. That’s why two story houses will not last long and you will see all are single storied ground floor houses. On the opposite direction of the village there is unique sandy cliff that amaze every travelers who visit Yara.
VII. Tangye village
Tangye village is isolated from the rest of the villages in Upper Mustang. This village has favorable climate for cultivation as you will see many crops and fruits are grown there. The surrounding hills are parched landscape except the village which has appearance of green fields and houses. The main occupation of people here are animal husbandry like yaks, sheep and goats. In addition to that they are also cultivates crops like wheat, barley, potato, buck wheat, mustard, and fruits like walnuts, grapes, apple, peach, etc. Tangye Chortens are the main highlights of the village which is remarkable that beautify the village. These iconic Chortens demonstrate culture and traditions of the village. Each Chorten symbolized different meaning from others such as harmony, prosperity, victory, joy, compassion, Nirvana, conqueror, etc.
VIII. Dhi/ Dhee gaon
Dhee village is very small down with a mix of sandy colored buildings compare with other villages of the eastern part of Upper Mustang. It nestled alongside the low river that origin from Lo-Manthang and mixed into the Kali Gandaki. Most of the time you will see this village green because here the land is favorable for cultivation. Many trekkers they come for lunch from Lo-Manthang and overnight in Yara.
IX. Ghiling/Geling village
Ghiling is an hour walk from Sangbochen. This village is a big village where it has sacred monastery and a school, Shree Janajyoti Basic School. The town of Geling (3340 meters) in Upper Mustang sits under a rocking mountain as is split into two sides with a monastery at the center- to the right the school side while to the left a residential side. Few years back this village lack water supply.
Dhakmar is really a visually stunning where the village is surrounded by mountains and Red cliffs in the east and west respectively. It is stated in the story of Guru Rinpoche that the blood of Demon spread over the cliff during subdue of demon in Lo. For trekkers trekking through Dhakmar is highly recommended as you will witness the oldest Buddhist Monastery of Ghar Gompa. Now a day trekking trail between Ghami and Charang is completely changed into a highway of Korala and its dusty.
Tangbe village is locally known for Tangwe where the people are called Taipa. It is located at 11,000 feet from the sea level, an hour of walk before Chhuksang village. The village’s thick green fields rippled with barley, and the leaves of poplar trees rustled in the wind. The narrow stone alleys, wedged between clay houses, were quiet and empty. Taipas are known for industrious who have lucrative business in Pokhara and in India.
XII. Samdzong/ Samjong Village
Samdzong is an isolated village in Upper Mustang that lies behind the jaw dropping landscape of Kunchokling of Chosar valley at the height 4000 meters. One of the best place to hike around Lo-Manthang is Samzong if you have enough time. These days you can even take a jeep ride to Samzong/ Samjong to experience the authentic life style of Lopas and the old white mud built houses. Now only few people are there and many moved to Namashung near Nenyol village. Actually the Namashung was owned by Mustang royal family and Samzong residents requested that the king of Mustang relocate to Namashung. Currently there are 18 houses which are built with the help of Swiss Organization.
XIII. Chhusang/ Chhuksang
Chhusang village is the popular second day overnight trekking camp from Jomsom. Chhuksang village is split in two by the Narsing River. Chhuksang is the correct way to pronounce as it is spell same in Tibetan but many trekking maps mentioned Chhusang. This village is surrounded by rich fields of barley, wheat, buckwheat, peas, mustard, apple orchards, apricots and other available fruits. In the past during the summer travelers and locals can reach the other side of the village by crossing the Narsing River where everyone used to take off their shoes. These days there is a stable aluminum bridge which makes everyone easy to cross this madness river.
Chele village is an hour walk from Chhusang situated at the height of 3050 meters from the sea level. It is an interesting village set on the edge of the river. There are several lodges and tea houses in Chele. Bishal lodge is the most popular tea house for trekkers. There is always afternoon wind because of the Kalig Gandaki River that lies just below the village and its surrounding deserted canyons.
Vena is a single tea shop place that lies few kilometers above the Chungshi Cave monastery at the height of 3860 meters. You will pass this place when you trek from Samar to Sangbochen from the upper route. It takes about one and half hours from Samar to Bhena. The trail climbs above the Samar to a ridge, descends steeply to a stream, then climbs into a valley of juniper trees till the view point and then gentle downhill will lead to Bhena.
Yamda is also a single tea shop house that is built on the left side of the trail after crossing two streams from Bhena. It will take 30-40 minutes approximately by foot.
Samar is the next village after Ghyakar which is popular for lunch place. The landscape here is different from other villages. This village have 12-14 houses in total. There are two lodges, Himali Hotel and Annapurna Hotel. The new road skip the village and head toward the mountain in the west. From Samar there are two trekking routes to Sangbochen, the upper route lead to Bhena and Yamda and lower one will take you to Chungshi Rangjung Cave.
Ghyakar is an isolated village that is situated on the opposite side of Chele and Samar cliff trail (old trekking path). Now a day the trail has turn into a Kora la Highway that link China and India in shortest distance. These days all trekkers trek through Ghyakar village to Samar by crossing the suspension bridge to avoid the dusty road. This village and its fields are encircles by a long wall of mud bricks.
Tetang lies in the east of Chhuksang village. It is also known for old Chhuksang settlement. If you reach earlier from Kagbeni then Tetang is a perfect place side trek from Chhuksang. The trail is flat and easy to follow. Walking through the village will offer you to experience the old ruined fortress, colorful chortens, cave cliffs on the opposite of the village and interesting under passing allays. The landscape around Tetang is impressive that will reminds you forever after completing your Upper Mustang trek.
XX. Sangbochen/ Sangmochen
Sangbochen is a small village with 4- 5 houses which are now turn into lodges and guest houses such as Nilgiri Hotel, Dhaulagiri hotel, Chungshi Guest house and Anita Lodge. It is one and half hours walk from Bhena and one hour from Chungshi Rangjung Cave Monastery. The name of this village relate with the story of Guru Rinpoche, Buddhist Tantric Master who had chased Demon in Mustang all the way from Jomsom to Dhakmar. In this story Guru Rinpoche met a little girl in this village and ask her name and questioned her “did you saw the demon running through your village?” She answered him that her name is Sangmo and she saw the lady with long hair and scary looks running toward Tamagaon. So, the name of the village became Sangmochen where ‘Sangmo’ is the name of that little girl and ‘Chen’ is the suffix word that use to represent place in Tibetan Language.
XXI. Tama gaon
Tama gaon is village which lies at the height of 3710 meters. There are only four houses. If you trek from Sangmochen to Ghami through old salt route you will pass Tama gaon on the way. From Sangmochen it takes about 40 minutes by walk.
Chhunggar lies above the left of the trail few minutes before the Jhaite. This place is isolated from the Ghiling village and there are only two houses. Now a days the trail has changed into Kora La highway.
Jhaite is a place that lies just on the foot of the Nyi La (4020 meters). This place is popular for tea break stop. Many trekkers prefer to stop for tea break at Jhaite before ascending Nyi La. Actually this place is also belongs to Ghiling Village.
Marang is quite big village that lies few kilometers below the Lo Gyakar Gonpa (Ghar Gompa). Ngari Pancehn Rinpoche was born in Ghar Gompa and the locals from Marang look after the monastery. There are 48 householders within the Marang village, a samall village of Sakre is counted as Marang village. The soil here is one of the best in upper mustang for cultivation.
Namgyal is a village northwest of Lo Manthang, surrounded by many ruined forts. It is include under the Chhonhup village development committee. This village is well known for its majesty monastery, Namgyal Gompa that is located on the edge of the cliff.
A small village lies on the opposite direction of Thingkar village. It is about 20 minutes from Thingkar and 25 minutes from Namgyal village. The houses are congested and walking paths are narrow. Behind the village there is a cave monastery that nestled on the cliff of Teri Khecho Ri.
Nyamdo or Nyamdok village is the last village that lies close to Nepal China Border, Korala. Above the Nyamdok village there are numbers of Chortens which are renovated recently this year (2021). It is said that Buddhist scholar Dawa Gyaltsen visited this place and left his foot print which can be seen on the big rock, way to praying flag hill. The Korala Highway just pass next to Nyamdo village where Nepal Custom Office is located. Many locals are expecting that there is more potential of import and export port business in the future.
Chungchung village lies on the west of Nyamdo. Chungchung is known for Yak herders. Almost every family own yaks. These days they are semi farmers as they do own yaks and also cultivates crops during the summer season. Most of the family live within the village. Only some members do stay with yaks to take care of them. Bhalyo and Shya are main settlement of nomadic life. In the winter they move to Ghami Mountain or even farther in the west to Dolpo if there is no more snow. In the summer this village is one of the best place for outdoor picnic where the relaxing meadow just appear on the east of village community hall.
XXIX. Kimaling Village
Kimaling is a neighboring village of Thingar And Phuwa. It is a 30 minutes’ walk from Thingar village. This village is larger than Phuwa and Namgyal. The ward office of Chungchung, Nyamdo and Kimaling lies here. There used to have one elementary school in each village of Chhonhup valley but now all are combined as one and it is called Shree Chhonhup Jhinju Basic School. This school started operation of hostel this year, 2021. This elementary school go into hibernation every November, taking all the students and teachers down to Pokhara to escape from the harsh winter. If you are travelling to Upper Mustang and looking for where to donate and help. We suggest you to help government schools like this.
XXX. Nenyul / Nenyol Village
Nenyul village lies at the height of 3880 meters from the sea level. It is about 45 minutes from Lo-Manthang. When you hike to Kunchokling or Samjong you you will pass this village. If you drive to Choser you will see suspension bridge on your right side. Just above the bridge the village is hidden behind the chortens, monastery and trees. Actually the village name pronounced as ‘NeYul’ where Ne means Barley and Yul means Village.
XXXI. Chhorak village
Chhorak village is located at the Chhorak Dokpo in the northern side of the walled city, Lo-Manthang. Locals of this village are popular for folk dances and songs. In the past locals from this villages are invited for special occasions to perform Tibetan opera which is also known for Ache Lhamo. This tradition of performing Tibetan Opera was started by Thang Tong Gyalpo in 14th-century mystic. Houses are few as compared with other villages. When you do a trek or take a jeep trip to Choser, you will pass this village by crossing Chhorak Dokpo (here Dokpo means river in local language).
Ghara village lies at the height of 3770 meters from the sea level, about an hour walk from Yara. Ghara village is popular because of the mighty holistic Luri Gompa that lies on the cliff 25 minutes away from Ghara by foot. Locals here are mostly Nyingmapa sact of Tibetan Buddhism where each man from many families are Ngakpa (Semi monk who practice Nyingma and look after his family). From Ghara when you climb a hill on the west of the village you will witness the views of west valley, Chhonhup. The most common wild animals that you can see here is blue sheep that visit the village for water in the late afternoon.
XXXIII. Dhe Village
Dhe is a small village located in eastern part of Upper Mustang isolated behind the Dhe la Pass. People residing in Dhe are known as Dewa which means a blissful land of Buddha or Sukhavanti in Sanskrit. They speak Tibetan dialect, known as Lowa which is quite different from Standard Lhasa Tibetan. There are about 14 households. Due to the climate change this village faced drinking and irrigation water shortage and now most of them move to Dhetsang where the new settlement is established there. Dhetsang lies on the back of Dhe and Kaligandaki Rivers on the opposite direction of Charang village. There are apple farms which was imported from France. If you are trekking from Yara to Tange then this place will be your lunch point.