Mustang reveals its secrets via tourism

- Xinhua, MUSTANG

Apr 13, 2017-

The trans-Himalayan district of Mustang was once known as the forbidden kingdom of Nepal.

But since opening to the outside world in 1992, the region bordering China has never failed to enchant its visitors with mysterious and picturesque landscapes.    

Located just in the lap of Mount Nilgiri and other Himalayan ranges, Mustang is a unique travel destination due to its remoteness and exclusive high-altitude deserts.

Often listed among the top tourist destinations in the world, Mustang in 2016 alone attracted nearly 40,000 foreign tourists compared to less than 500 a quarter of a century ago.

Foreign tourists are usually found trekking in this Himalayan region that comprises the world’s popular Annapurna trekking circuit.

“The flow of tourists is increasing every year due to its beautiful landscapes, accessibility by road and hotels,” Bal Bahadur Gurung, an officer at the Annapurna Conservation Area Project Mustang, told Xinhua.

“The fact that the culture and tradition have been preserved by the locals also adds to Mustang as a favorite destination for tourists,” the officer added.

Although Mustang has the second lowest population of all regions in Nepal, it boasts more than 200 registered hotels with 4,500 rooms, with more hotels currently under construction. Also catering to visitors are restaurants serving European coffee, modern bakeries, souvenir shops and pool houses.

Between five and seven morning flights connect to the district headquarters of Jomsom from Lake City Pokhara every day.

One of the major features of Mustang, which lies along the Kali Gandaki River, is its pristine geography and climate. The landscape there reflects a natural architecture and where the weather, usually dry and windy, can be also be unpredictable.

Beside its geography, spectacular lifestyle and unique culture are also attractive. The region hosts a number of prominent festivals like Tenji, Yartung and Lha Phewa in which former royal family members, monks and locals participate.

Though Lower Mustang is easily accessible for travel, foreign tourists need to receive a special permit from the government by paying $500 to visit Upper Mustang, known as “Lo Manthang,” the unofficial capital city of Mustang.

 Lo Manthang, also known as the walled city, is popular for monasteries, centuries-old caves and archaeological sites.

Muktinath temple is one of the major attractions of the Mustang district as it is a pilgrimage center for both Buddhists and Hindus.

Hindus believe that the temple is associated with Lord Vishnu while Buddhists consider the place to be linked with Buddhist master Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava.

Located at an altitude of 3,800 meters above the sea level, the temple attracts 200,000 pilgrims every year.

Published: 13-04-2017 08:31

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