The forbidden kingdom Upper Mustang
Mustang The Forbidden Kingdom is the restricted northern part of Nepal’s Mustang district. It consists of seven village development committees smallest democratic with 31 settlements.
The restricted area includes the historic Kingdom of Lo-Tsho – Dyun which translates as seven districts of Lo in the local Tibetan dialect. The area of Bahragaon, meaning ‘twelve villages from south of Ghiling to north of Jomsom and also falls largely Upper Mustang. Tibetain dialect prevails here too. However the peoples 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. The highland nomads called Dhokpa take an outside‘s position of the Phalwa who know 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 the Boarder, winter was the time for trade with Tibet. Now a 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 and India. Still, there is also some better with the Tibetan neighbors, but heavily regulated by the Chinese. Only few locals profit from the Controlled influx of foreign tourist.
Livestock is the most important source of cash income. In the villages, cattle are kept for milk, meat, and fuel. Large herds of goat and sheep are driven south for sale at the end of the summer, Zopa plough the filds. Horses and mules carry people and loads. On the pasture lands at the rim of the Tibetan Plateau nomad families tend goats, sheep and Yaks all year long.
In this dry climate agriculture is impossible without irrigation. Women mean and children work together on the fields. Barley, buckwheat,peas,and potatoes are the crops that ripen here, and the seasons are marked by festivals. A thousand usually spans several generations and children are cared for by everyone. Marriage of the woman with two or more brothers to avoid the splitting of the family’s farmland is still in practice. A husband may take a second wife is the first one proves infertile. But like all traditional ways, these are changing too, under the influence of outside culture and values.
Legend and History of Upper Mustang Nepal
The caves all over Mustang bear testimony of prehistoric settlers. However, little is known about their origin and life.Tibetan and Ladakhi chronicles have mentioned lo since the seventh century AD. Its history as an independent kingdom began after 1380, when Ame Pal, a warrior and devout Buddhist from Western Tibet, built the fortress of Ketcher Dzong. With his sons, he defeated the local warlords and constructed a walled capital Lo-Manthang. The present king Jigmi Plbar Bista is believed to be his twenty-first descendant in the direct line.
Ame Pal’s son Angun Sangpo provided funding and leadership, while his minister Kalun Sangpo organized and oversaw the building of the walled city and the first monasteries. Ngorchen Kunga Sangpo a renowned teachers of the Sakya sect was invited from Tibet to bring religious life to the new kingdom. Angun, Kalten chhewang and Ngorchen Kunga are therefore known as the Three Holies.
Because the passes on its northern border are relatively easy to cross the small kingdom occupied a strategic position on the trade route between Tibet and India. The lamas of Lo went to Tibet to study, and religious teacher from all direction crossed the land. Economy and culture thrived. Off course, the kingdom’s wealth attracted frequent attacks from Tibetan bandits. The resulting custom of closing the gate of Lo-Manthang every night was observed until a few years ago.
At the end of the sixteenth century, Lo-Tsho Dyun came under the power of Ladakh, and around 1760,the kingdom of Jumla in western Nepal finally succeed in making Lo its vassal, At the end of the 1700s Prithivi Narayan shaha, the Gorkha king who founded Nepal, annexed Jumla’s vassal states in the course of his conquests. Under the new powerful rulers in Kathmandu, Lo largely retained autonomy in its internal affairs, but the central government regulated the revenue of the area. The economy of Lo, Bahragaon and Panchgaon suffered since the Thakalis gained control over the salt trade along the Kali Gandaki in 1862.
The introduction of a constitutional monarchy in Nepal in 1951 resulted in Mustang becoming a district, and took away much of the King’s power. Following the Chinese exaction of full control over Tibet in 1959, the Khampa guerillas based their resistance movement in Lo. The Nepal government declared the Mustang District a restricted area. After the Khampa movement started its customary development activities. Lower Mustang opened for tourism, but Upper Mustang was left in economic isolation.
When parliamentary democracy in Nepal after 1990 revolution, the new government decided to reopen Upper Mustangpartially for foreigners. The first trekking groups entered Upper Mustang in 1992. In the same year, the Annapurna conservation area was extended to include Upper Mustang.
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