Days: 12 / Difficulty: 4 of 5 (Strenuous)
Introduction to Tenji/Tiji Festival Trek in Upper Mustang
This is one of the most popular trekking destinations for the traveler who would like to explore ancient monasteries and caves in a remote area and a beautiful landscape. This is the forbidden kingdom and ancient wall city of Mustang and it is open for trekkers since 1992. This trek is very enjoyable due to its isolation and beautiful landscape. Mustang is a land where the soul of the man is still considered to be as real as the feet he walks on; a land said to be ‘barren as a dead deer” but where beauty and happiness about in spite of hardships. Mustang is a remote, semi-independent Tibetan kingdom within the territory of Nepal (just north of the Annapurna Region on the Tibetan border), and one of the last bastions of undisturbed Tibetan culture in the world. The king of Mustang still ruling, their people. Massive Buddhist monasteries and nunneries are built into forbidding cliffs and mountain ledges and the starkly beautiful, windy, arid Tibetan plateau is unbroken for many hours of trekking or riding on, horseback. The trek enters upper Mustang at Kagbeni, a quaint medieval town nestled in apple orchards and encircled by Snow Mountains. It eventually reaches the ancient capitol of Lo- Manthang, a walled city built of whitewashed mud bricks and teeming with Buddhist prayer wheels and Stupas, seeming to arise from the earth itself. There are very few guesthouses and restaurants in the region; so camping is required and most necessities must be carried in. The Mustang, entirely closed to visitors until the early 1990s, upper Mustang treks are still restricted by a set of rules for cultural conservation and require a minimum $500 permit fee for a ten-day trek. (Treks are typically ten days but can be longer.) The high winds, altitude and cold add to the challenge of this trek. It is not recommended to do in the winter months and can be strenuous for some people even in the warmer months. The Mustang trek is better to do in summer season. The trek is generally moderate to strenuous as camping between 2,750m (9,000ft) to 3690m (12,100ft) and hiking to a maximum of 4,207m (13,800ft). Fully supported trek with all meals and equipment led by experienced local guide. All equipment and luggage will be carried by porters. Clients carry day pack only and walk at an easy pace. Enjoy walking with fresh natural air.
Life in Mustang revolves around tourism, animal husbandry and trade. Mustang is also known as "Tibet outside the Tibetan Border" for it survived the Chinese invasion of 1951 and hence fosters much original Tibetan culture, although it is now politically part of Nepal and, except for a nine km portion from Chhuksang to Syangboche (just south of Ghiling as of August 2010, it is bisected by a new road linking it to Tibet to the north and to the rest of Nepal to the south.
Mustang was once an independent kingdom, although closely tied by language and culture to Tibet. From the 15th century to the 17th century, its strategic location granted Mustang control over the trade between the Himalayas and India. 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 on October 7, 2008 by order of the Government of Nepal. The last official and current unofficial king (Raja or 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 surprisingly little changed in appearance from that time period.
The Walled City
Welcome to the only living Walled City of Nepal. Built in 1380 AD, by the first King of Lo-Manthang Ame Pal, the walled city still stands as a testimony to Lo-Manthang's prosperity and rich culture heritage. The wall, which is 2472 feet long and 26 feet high, has a series of 14 towers along its periphery. These towers rise 40 feet high & are 6 feet wide at the top. During the reign of the Mustangi Rajas, the towers were guarded by armed guards to defend the town from bandits and enemies. The only entrance to the town is through a huge wooden gate located to the east of the township. In early days, this gate was closed before dusk and opened at dawn. Until recently, the town inhabitants followed this rule dutifully, but the rule is no more in practice. Nonetheless, as in the past, expect for the Raja (King), dismount their horses while passing through the town gate. This custom is observed to pay respect to Avalokiteshwara (God of compassion), Mahne (Prayed wheel) and Jhong Lha (Deity of the fort) that are located in front of and above the Mahne respectively. The Raja, Rani and the Khempo considered as equals to the deities are not required to dismount their horses while entering the gate.
The city is divided into four traditional wards (Si-Shu), namely “Ghun-thang”, “Domaling”, “Potaling” and “Jhythang”. These names refer to as the shrines of Deities from the respective wards. “Ghun-thang” is the shrine of “Tara” or “Doma”; “Potaling” the shrine of “Dipangar Buddha” or “Hyepo Mehe”, and “Jhythang” the shrine of “Jhampa” or “Maitria, the future Buddha. These wards take turn to perform various religions and social of the town.
People of Mustang
About 1100 Lobas (people of Lo), live the 180 mud houses of the walled city, and surprisingly, they observed a form of caste-hierarchy. This may be the reason why it is mainly Kudak (Bista- the nobility & royalty of Lo) and the Phalwa (Gurung) who live within the walled city. Ghara (black smith), Shemba (butcher) and Emeta (musician) mostly live in the settlement beside the Lo-Manthang River that flows to the east of the city. The Raja and Rani of Mustang live in “Monkhar” - the four storied white-washed palace located in the middle of the town. The palace was believed to be built by the first King of Mustang, Ame Pal, in the early 14th century. The present Raja is his twenty-second descendent. Livestock husbandry combined with agriculture is still the mainstay of the economy. Seasonal migration for trade to the southern parts of Nepal and North India and barter Trade with neighboring Tibet supplements household income. With the advent of tourism in Lo in 1992, few local people have also started taking up tourist as a new economic profession. To prevent fragmentation of family property, some Lobas still practice Polyandry. A woman is married to all the brothers of a family.
Cultural and Religion
Lo-Manthang's culture is deep rooted in the religious sentiments of its people. The township abounds with many Chhortens, Mani-walls and Monasteries. Prayer flags flutter above all the houses-conveying mantras to all corners of the world. The Lobas are exclusively Buddhists and conform to the Sakya-pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Bon prevailed before Buddhism, which was later replaced by Ningma Pa Sect (Dhakar-Kayu sub sect) and subsequently by Sakya Pa Sect (Sakyapa, Ngorpa sub sects) of Buddhism. Of the three Gompas in Lo-Manthang, the Jhampa Gompa is the oldest. It was built in 1387 AD during the reign of the famous king Anguin Sangbo and is believed to be a replica of Ghangtse Jhampa Gompa of Tibet, which still exists in Ghangtse, near Lhasa. The three storied Jhampa Gompa is an exemplary piece of art. It amply exhibits Lo-Manthang's great architectural depth of the past. The uniqueness of this Gompa lies in gold painted tantric Mandalas entirely covering the interiors of the wall of the first and second floors. The main prayer hall is painted with double register of Mandalas interspersed with smaller attraction. One will be surprised to know that the walls of the Gompa are 5 feet and 4 inches thick! The Gompa is 55 feet high, 150 feet long and 80 feet wide. Thupchen is second oldest Gompa of the Town. It was built in the early 15th century by Tashi Gon, the third Raja of Mustang. Despite being smaller than Jhamba, Thupchen is an equally rich archetype of Tibetan art. The main hall ‘Dukhang' has beautiful ceiling and wall paintings of natural color and gold and silver paints. The wall paintings bear various images of Buddha and other deities in different mudras. The wooden beams in Dukhang carry Buddhist mantra engraved in it and the ceiling has beautifully placed rafters. In its heyday, Thupchen was the major center of religious in Lo-Manthang. Resided by the Khempo, Chhaede Gompa presently is the main Gompa of Lo and also the center of religious activity. It was built by a King named Aham Tshewang Phuntsok Tskgyen Norbu in 1757. The present Chhoede Gompa is a merger of the then Choprang Gompa and Dhakar-Thungling Chhoede Gompa. This Gompa houses beautiful Thangka (Buddhist religious paintings) and images, including the sacred Thangka of Mahakala and Dorje Sonnu (Vajra Kilas). Mahakala is a wrathful manifestation of Avalokiteshwara and Dorje Sonnu is main deity of the Tenji festival. Tenji is the most popular festival of Lo Tsho Dhun, and is celebrated over three days to mark the killing of a demon by Dorje Sonnu, the demon's son. Tenji is a derivation of the Tibetan word “Tempa Chirim”, meaning a prayer for world piece. The festival is celebrated on the fifth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, which usually come to place in May. Two huge Thangkas are displayed during the occasion. Numerous other festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Some important ones are Mhane Dance (which marks the killing of a demon through a dance drama), Sakaluka (seed sowing ceremony for good harvest), Duk chu (Monk's dance and prayer for a prosperous New Year), Chug Emma (House hold prays for a prosperous New Year), Phakne (group of same age visit different holy places), Loshar (New Year) and so forth. A Monastic School- Tse Chhen Shedrubling Tukling Mon Gon Lobdra — is attached to the Chhoede Gompa. This is the only Sakya-pa monastic school of Upper Mustang where young monks (Dhawa) are taught on the teachings of Buddha. There are about 90 monks currently studying in this center. The people of Lo have for long relied on traditional herbal medicines to cure ailments and the faith still holds true. With some donor support, an Amchi school now runs in Lo under the Management of the local Amchi family (Tibetan Herbal Doctor).
The main hydrographic feature of Mustang is the Kali Gandaki River. The river runs southward towards Nepal Terai, bisecting Mustang. Routes paralleling the river once served as a major trade route between Tibet and India, especially for salt. Part of the river valley in the southern Mustang District forms by some measures the deepest gorge in the world. Traditional Mustang (the Lo Kingdom) is 53 km north-south at its longest and 60 km east - west at its widest, and ranges from a low point of 2750 m above sea level on the Kali Gandaki River just north of Kagbeni to 6700 m (Khamjung Himal, a peak in southeast Mustang.)
The Tenji festival is annual event indigenous to Lo-Manthang, Upper MUSTANG in Nepal. Tenji commonly pronounced "Teeji" is the abbreviated from of Tempa Chhirim which translates to "Prayer for World peace". Tenji commemorates the victory of Buddha's incarnation. Dhorje Sonam over a demon called Ma Tam Ru Ta, who was man eater and who caused storms and droughts to destroy people's houses and livestock. The dances performed by the monks of Lomanthang Chhyode Gumba during these three days festival enact the harassment of the Ma Tam Ru Ta, the birth of Dhorje Sonam the demon’s son and attempt by Dhorje Sonam to return the demon to the BUDDHA realm. The monks perform a dance called “Tsa Chham” on the first day of the Tenji and “Nga Chham” on the second day, one monk has to stay in seclusion for three monks during the winter preparing for the role of Dhorje Sonam. One the third day, in a ceremony called “Rha chham” this monk in the role of Dhorje Sonam throws the effigy and Tsamppa representation of Ma Tam Ru Ta. It is believed that the village is purified of evil spirits at this time. The Tenji festival falls from 27th to 29th days of third month of Tibetan calendar (April/may of every year). It is organized by Chhyode Gumba which is monastery of Sakyapa sect located in Lomanthang, Upper MUSTANG. The monasteries abbot is Khempo Tashi Tenjin Rinpochhe and there is close to 35 other from Lomanthang, Nenyol and Chhoser in the monastery. Villagers from all over “Lho Tshu Dhyun” (the ancient kingdom of Lo) come to watch the dance and to participate in the accompanying festivities the villager of Lo also contribute firewood and necessary material to under take the festival.
Swiss Family Trekking and Expedition regularly organizes trek to the Himalayan Kingdom of Mustang targeting TENJI Festival a three days long ritual known as" The chasing of the Demons", one of the most important festival of the region. Over the festive time monks dressed in elaborate costumes and masks perform dances and rituals that are supposed to drive away evil spirits. Dressed in their finery, people from all over Mustang gather in Lo Monthang to celebrate the Tenji Festival.
Tiji Festival in Upper Mustang Lodge Trek, Full Moon of May 2017, Shortest possible Tour
Itinerary in detail
Day 1; 8th May 2018: Arrival in Kathmandu
Arrival in Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport and you will be met at the airport by our representative who will be waiting with a Swiss Family Treks sign outside the terminal and transfer to Hotel by private car. Welcome drink and after you settle into the hotel there will be a group briefing with your tour leader. He will discuss the trek details and co-ordinate any last minute arrangements. Stay overnight at Hotel.
Day 2; 9th May 2018: Fly from Pokhara to Jomson 2720m and drive to Chusang and walk to Tasalle 3100m ca.1-2 hours.
Early in the morning we fly from Pokhara to Jomsom with viewing a scenic and majestic Himalayan Ranges just above the deepest Kaligandaki gorge and after arrival in Jomsom, we meet with our support staffs and will have a breakfast. After breakfast, our trail goes along the Kaligandaki River passing the Jomsom’s main village. Then, we walk on the wide bank of the Kaligandaki and move on in the wind. We have a short glimpse of Mt. Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri Himal. On this bank ammonite fossils are often found. We drive by jeep to Chhusang and duuring the drive we check in our restricted area permit and we are taking first step into Upper Mustang. We have lunch there and after lunch, we will go back again to the river shore and move in the upstream direction of the Kaligandaki. When there is an iron bridge where Kaligandaki River runs through a tunnel built in the huge rock that blocks the river shores and just above the bridge, there is 16 small caves. After cross the bridge, we make a steep ascent onto the terrace ahead and we will reach Tsaile from where we can see the zigzagging Kaligandaki and Nilgiri Himal further in the interior. Overnight at Lodge.
Day 3; 10th May 2018: Trek from Tsaile to Ghiling 3570m/6-7 hours via Ranchung Cave Monastery,
Morning after breakfast, we leave the village and climb up the unstable pebble road and will come to a plateau. We keep climbing the gentle slope and enter an area with the big canyons. We follow the trail that cut out of the cliff and after passing the canyons we will reach a small pass. Then, we move to a gentle mountain flank and continue the slightly descent and will reach Samar village surrounded by a poplar grove. We will have our lunch here. After lunch, we descend steeply to a stream, then climb up and descend steeply to another stream, then climb up to a plateau. We keep climbing up the right fork to the Chungsi-La and countering through the amazing canyons until reaching Ranchung Cave whose large stalactites resemble Rangchung (self-arisen; ie not man-made) chhorten. The Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated here in 8th century during his traveling in Mustang. Himalayan griffons nest in the surrounding cliffs. After visiting the cave, we climb gradually past pasture to Syangmochen. Again we climb up to a small pass where there is a colorfully painted square chhorten. We will see a large valley of Ghiling spreading out in front of us. We continue descending to the right towards Ghiling, cross a stream and move on along the stone walls in the farm fields. Here is two ancient monasteries and big huge chhortens and we will visit in the evening. Overnight at Lodge.
Day 4; 11th May 2018: Trek from Ghiling to Drakmar 3450m/5-6 hours,
In the morning after breakfast, we walk through the big village and climb up the gentle slope with shrubberies and will join in mail trail. From here, a long ascent continues to Nyi-La. When we cross over this pass, we will enter the center of the Mustang, which used to be called the Lo Region. We descend the gentle slope and go around the valley ahead towards the left. We will be overlooking Ghami village and we descend steep zigzag slope and will reach the village. We will have our lunch here. After lunch, we leave the village and cross a river using the suspension bridge. We climb onto the terrace and pass along the longest Mani Wall in Mustang. The effect of the erosion on the cliff ahead attracts attention by its strange forms and the varieties of colors such as red, blue, white, etc. it is like a Mandala painted on the cliff. We keep going in level trail passing the big chhortens and cross a stream. Then, we keep walking along the upstream through the terraced fields until reaching Drakmar. Overnight at Lodge.
Day 5; 12th May 2018: Trek from Drakmar to Lo-Manthang 3840m/7-8 hours via Ghar Gompa and Marang-La Pass,
Today after breakfast, we leave the village and ascend a steep eroded gully overshadowed and the route cross some alpine meadows. Now will come to a plateau and then, across a valley to a cairn. We climb to a ridge and keep descending until Ghar Gompa. It is also known as Lo Gyaker which means ‘Pure virtue of Lo’. Ghar Gompa means ‘house temple’ and is affiliated with the Nyingma Lineage. This is one of the oldest Gompa in Mustang. After visiting Gompa, the trail steep descends to a wooden bridge and climb up to a plateau. We keep walking along a grassy valley and come to a ridge. We will make our lunch break here. Then, we continue the level trail until reaching Marang-La Pass. This is a high pass in this course. Then, we keep descending a large cairn and come to a small ridge from where first view of Lo-Manthang City. Again we continue crisscrossed with herder’s trail until reaching Lo-Manthang, a medieval ancient Wall City of Mustang. Overnight at Lodge.
Day 6; 13th May 2018: Tenji Festival. Overnight at Lodge.
Day 7; 14th May 2018: Tenji Festival. Overnight at Lodge.
Day 8; 15th May 2018: Trek from Lo-Manthang to Tsarang 3560m/3-4 hours,
In the morning after breakfast, we leave the castle village of Lo-Manthang and cross a small stream. Then, we gradually climbing steep sandy slope until Lo-La Pass from where we see the last view of ancient wall city of Lo-Manthang. We keep walking across the wide plain ahead with viewing the numerous caves on the terrace’s rock face. We continue the trail passing the big isolated chhorten that marks the boundary between Lo-Manthang and Tsarang till Tsarang Khola. We cross by an iron bridge and climb up until reaching Tsarang Village. We will have our lunch. After lunch, we visit the huge five-storey white Tsarang Palace (fortified palace) and the 14th century Gompa are perched on the edge of Kaligandaki gorgr at the eastern end of the village. Overnight at Lodge.
Day 9; 16th May 2018: Trek from Tsarang to Syangmochen 3500m/6-7 hours,
Morning after breakfast, we start our trek from our camp site and exit from the village passing huge chhorten. The trail goes a long gentle ascent until reaching to a ridge and after traverse the route down a rocky gully until reaching in Ghami passing again spectacular Mani Wall in Nepal. We will have our lunch here. After lunch, the trails continue steep up till Ghami-La and again a long gentle ascent brings to us on Nyi-La. Then, we climb down to Tamagaon and continue a steep set of switchbacks down a rocky canyon leads to a stream, then the trail climbs to a huge painted chhorten before rejoining the Ghiling trail near the ridge. We cross the small pass and descend to a Syangmochen. Overnight at Lodge.
Day 10; 17th May 2018: Trek from Syangmochen to Chhusang 2980m/5-6 hours and drive to Jomsom
In the morning after breakfast, we walk short level trail and steep climb up until reaching Yamdo-La. Then, we slightly climb down to Bhena. After passing the hamlets, namely Yamdo and Bhena, a long descent start to Samar crossing small streams. We will have our lunch here. After lunch, we continue the trail passing the big canyons and we reach in Tsaile. After that, we steep descend to the Kaligandaki River and cross by an iron bridge, then continue the trail along the Kaligandaki River until reaching Chhusang and drive to Jomsom. Overnight at Lodge.
Day 11; 18th May 2018: Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara 820m and afternoon flight to Kathmandu
Early in the morning after breakfast, we fly from Jomsom to Pokhara and check in our Hotel. We make a rest and will have a lunch. After lunch, transfer to Airport and flight back to Kathmandu. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 12; 19th May 2018: Final Departure from Kathmandu
Your trip will come to an end today after breakfast. Your leader will be on hand to advise and assist with your onward travel arrangements and transfer to Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport by our private van around 3 hours before your flight schedule and flight back to your home/other travel destination.
Note: You can do this short version only if your international flight arrive around 1.p.m and not later.
Our Trek Package Cost includes;
* Airport/Hotel/Airport pick up and transfer by private car/van.
* 2 nights accommodation in twin bed sharing basis with breakfast at 3*** hotel in Kathmandu and standard hotel inPokhara.
* Round Trip Flight Ticket from KTM-PKR-JOMSOM-PKR-KTM and airport tax.
* Meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with Tea & coffee and hot/cold filter water during the trek.
* Lodge to lodge accommodation during the trek.
* 1 experienced, helpful and friendly guide, porters (1 porter for 2 peoples), their food & accommodation, salary, equipments & insurance.
* All transportation by private vehicle.
* Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit.
* Annapurna Conservation Area Permit.
* All necessary permits.
* First Aid Medical Kit box.
* Office Service charge
* All Government Tax.
Our Trek Package Cost doesn't include;
* Any meals in Kathmandu and Pokhara other than breakfast.
* Travel insurance (if you want us to arrange your travel insurance, we would greatly be happy to assist).
* International air fare to and from Nepal.
* Nepal Tourist Visa fee.
* Items and expenses of personal nature.
* Any kind of alcoholic drinks, cold drinks, laundry, phone call, internet.
* Personal Trekking Equipments like sleeping bags, jackets (can all be hired in KTM)
* Emergency Evacuation (Helicopter Rescue).
* Any costs which arise due to a change of the itinerary, because of landslides, domestic flight delays, political disturbance, and strikes etc.
* Any other costs whatsoever, that is not mentioned in the cost included.
* Horse renting and additional porters due to natural calamities during the trek.
* Tips for guide, porters, driver...
Tipping is expected but it is not mandatory.
Customize Your Trek: This is a general itinerary, which can always individually be “tailormade”. The trek package can be redesigned or redeveloped as per your taste, For more information please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: In case of emergency during the trip, Helicopter will be arranged by Swiss Family Treks & Expedition GmbH. The charges must be paid by the clients themselves.