Forbidden Kingdom of Upper Mustang – 8 Nights

Destination
8 Nights
Duration
Arrival
Departure
Activity

                               THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM OF UPPER MUSTANG

At a Glance

Days Program Overnight
1 Arrive Kathmandu Kathmandu
2 Full day visit in Kathmandu Kathmandu
3 Fly to Pokhara Pokhara
4 Fly to  Jomsom, drive to Kagbeni Chhusang
5 Drive to Ghami Tsarang
6 Drive to Lomanthang Lomanthang
7 Full day exploration of Lomanthang Lomanthang
8 Drive back to Jomsom Jomsom
9 Fly Jomsom – Pokhara – Kathmandu Kathmandu
10 Depart Kathmandu

DETAILED ITINERARY

 DAY 1                         ARRIVE KATHMANDU

Meals: None

It is a panoramic thrill flying into Kathmandu on a clear day. The views of snow-capped mountain peaks sprawling down below you are almost ecstatic, beginning a whole chain of memorable experiences that stay with you for a long, long time. A representative and driver from Yeti Holidays will meet you at the airport and escort you to your designated hotel. The representative will help you check into hotel. At the hotel you will be briefed about your daily activities.

Check-in at the hotel.

Overnight in Kathmandu

DAY 2                         IN KATHMANDU

Meals: Breakfast

On this day, embark on a full – day visit in Kathmandu.

KATHMANDU DURBAR SQUARE

The durbar square with its arrays of temples, courtyards, monuments and the ancient palaces of the former Nepali Royals is located in Basantapur in the heart of Kathmandu city, the country’s capital. Chief attractions here include Hanuman Dhoka Royal Palace, the magnificent Taleju Temple towering more than 40 meters; Kumari Ghar, the residence of the Living Goddess, Kumari; the temple of Ashok Vinayak dedicated to lord Ganesh (elephant headed deity), and Kal Bhairav, the God of Wrath. There is a giant pagoda of ‘Kasthamandap’, a structure which is said to have been built out of a single tree. The name of the capital ‘Kathmandu’ is said to be actually derived from ‘Kasthamandap’.

Note: The recent earthquake completely destroyed Kasthamandap and some temples in the durbar square premise. Hanumandhoka palace complex and Kumari Ghar also fall amongst the affected ones.

THAMEL

After sightseeing tour of Durbar Square get on a rickshaw (tricycle) for an interesting 20-minute ride to the tourist hub of Thamel.

Travelers and the locals consider it a tourist haven. Its filled with narrow streets, all lined with budget hotels, small shops selling everything from food and provisions to clothes, carpets, walking gears, music CDs, DVDs, handicrafts, paintings which make it an ideal place for souvenir shopping. The area also has some very good restaurants when you need to stop for munching.

BOUDHANATH

One of the oldest and the biggest Buddhist monuments ever built in Nepal; Boudhanath is a spherical stupa structure imposing at a height of 36 meters with three massive Mandala style platforms. Located 08 kilometres east of Kathmandu, the stupa with four pairs of eyes at the four cardinal directions is believed to be keeping watch for righteous behaviour and human prosperity. Built on an octagonal base inset with 108 prayer wheels, the shrine is ringed by the settlement especially of the Tibetan refugees who entered Nepal in the 1950s. They have developed the place into a ‘Mini-Tibet’ ever since.

PASHUPATINATH

Pashupatinath Temple dating back to 400 A.D. is one of the oldest temples dedicated to Lord Shiva- the superior god as per Hindu mythology. Situated 05 kilometres east of Kathmandu amidst a lush green natural setting on the bank of the sacred Bagmati River, the temple is built in a two storey Pagoda design with gilded roof and richly carved silver doors. It houses the sacred linga or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva.

Overnight in Kathmandu

DAY 3                         FLY TO POKHARA

Meals: Breakfast

In the morning fly to Pokhara (approx 25 minutes). Once you reach Pokhara, check-in at the hotel.

POKHARA is a remarkable place of natural beauty.  At an elevation lower than that of Kathmandu, it has much more tropical feel to it; a fact well appreciated by the beautiful diverse flowers that prosper in this environment. The enchanting city with a population above 250000 has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panaromic views of the Himalayan peaks. The valleys surrounding Pokhara is home to thick forest, gushing rivers, emerald lakes and of course, the views of world famous Himalayas. The serenity of the lakes and the magnificence of the Himalayas rising behind them create an ambience of peace and magic.

Later embark on the day’s visits to below places.

BOATRIDE AT FEWA LAKE

Spend a quiet time boating in the ultimate lake where the reflections of Mount Annapurna and Machhapuchhre range falls. You will also see a variety of fishes while boating. An island temple is located at the middle of the lake. Thick forest lies on the adjoining southern slopes of the lake. It’s hard to escape the draw of Phewa Lake and any visitor with even a few spare minutes should endeavour to take a boat out on the water to fully experience the wonderful views of the reflected mountains.

POKHARA OLD BAZAAR

Pokhara’s traditional bazaar is bright and colorful, as are its ethnically diverse traders. Located around 4km from Lakeside, it is a pleasant, shady spot, strewn with shops selling everything from edibles and cloth to cosmetics and gold!

BINDEBASINI TEMPLE

Bindabasini Mandir is of great religious importance to Hindus living in the Pokhara region. It is a vital hub of religious fervor. The temple itself is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga, who is Pokhara’s chosen guardian deity. Durga, also known as Shakti or Kali has numerous manifestations and at the Bindabasini temple she is seen as Bhagwati, a blood-thirsty aspect of the goddess.

SETI RIVER GORGE

‘Seti’ means White in Nepali and that’s how the famous Seti River got its name with its flowing silver white water. It silently flows in the centre part of the valley carving out a wonderful Gorge. The Seti Gorge comprises the deep rifts of the Conglomerate Mountains carved upto 40 to 50 meters deep which could mostly be witnessed from KI Singh Bridge at Bagar, Mahendra Bridge at Mahendrapool market and Chinese bridge at Lakhan chowk.

DEVI’S FALLS

Locally known as Patale Chhango (or Hell’s fall), Devi’s fall is an amazing waterfall lying about 2 km south-west of Pokhara airport on the highway to Tansen. It was named after Devi, a Swiss lady who was swept away when the floodgates were accidently opened, never to be seen again.

GUPTESHWAR CAVE

The cave is probably the longest and attractive cave in south Asia which is located at a pristine location north-western part of Pokhara district. Ancestors called this place as desolate Khatri Tara. At that time water steam used to come out from this place and some courageous youngsters used to go inside and catch fishes. In 1970, 1980 and 1982 a British Expedition Organization named British course Research Cave Expedition expatiated this cave and published about it in The Atlas of the Great Caves of the World. This cave is now a religious as well as touristic destination. Hindus visit this cave to worship lord Shiva- the superior god as per Hindu Mythology.

Overnight in Pokhara

DAY 4             FLY TO JOMSOM (9,186 ft / 2,800m), VISIT MUKTINATH & KAGBENI

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After early breakfast, transfer to Pokhara airport for flight to Jomsom (20 minutes).

Jomsom has been a major trade route for centuries. Until 1959, traders exchanged salt collected from salt lakes in Tibet for rice and barley from the middle hills of Nepal. They also traded wool, livestock and butter for sugar, tea, spices, tobacco and manufactured goods from India, but the salt for-grain trade dominated the economy. This trade has diminished, not only because of the political and economic changes in Tibet, but also because Indian salt is now available throughout Nepal at much lower prices than Tibetan salt. In its upper reaches, people call the Kali Gandaki the Thak Khola, thus the name Thakali for those who live in this region. The Thakali people of the Kali Gandaki valley had a monopoly on the salt trade of this region. They are now turning to agriculture, tourism and other forms of trade for their livelihood.

Upon arrival embark on the trip to Muktinath (3,710 M) and Kagbeni (2,810 M).

Distance: 22 km from Jomsom (one way)                     Duration: 1.5 hrs drive (one way)

Drive to Jharkot. Jharkot, with its picturesque ‘kani’ and large gompa is well worth exploring. There are some peach trees nearby; people press the peach seeds to make oil. Across the valley you can see the ruins of Dzong, the ancient capital of this region and the smaller villages of Purang and Changur.

Continue on to Muktinath.

Kagbeni village

MUKTINATH

It is an important pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhist. This pagoda style Muktinath temple is a symbol of the religious symbiosis between Hindus and Buddhists. You will also enjoy Trans Himalayan landscape sceneries like Tibet and splendid mountain views.

Later drive back to Kagbeni for the night (Approx. 45 minutes)

KAGBENI

Kagbeni, a green Oasis at the junction of the Jhong Khola and Kali Gandaki River, Kagbeni looks like a town out of the medieval past, with closely packed mud houses, dark tunnels and alleyways, imposing shorten and a large, ochre-colored Gompa perched above the town. Many people still dress in typical Tibetan clothes, though the children have even in this faraway village, learned to beg, rather insistently for pencil a rare commodity. Their innocence and ever cheerful faces always brighten the drab surroundings.

Overnight in Kagbeni

DAY 5             DRIVE TO GHAMI (3,520 M)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We commence our jeep drive from Kagbeni to the village of Ghami (Drive time: 4 – 5 hours). Along the way visit the villages of Tangbe, Chhusang and Ghilling.

Tangbe, which is situated alongside the east bank trail above the river, is where you will witness the first black, white and red chortens that typify Upper Mustang. The little village is a labyrinth of narrow alleys among whitewashed houses, fields of buck-wheat barley and apple orchards. Nilgiri Peak continues to dominate the southern skyline. Also visit the ruins of an ancient fortress that have become a silent witness of history, when Tangbe was on a major salt trade route between Tibet and India.

Chhusang is a fairly large settlement inhabited mostly by a mixed ethnic group of Gurung, Thakali and some families from the land of Lo. By itself Chhusang is a very interesting village with narrow covered alleys running through the centre and is surrounded by gigantic red, orange and silver gray cliffs spotted with cave dwellings. The area is locally known as Thagsing Grangma. To the south of these is an abandoned nunnery called Gompa Gang, the “Convent Ridge”.

Ghiling houses a gompa that is more than 500 years old with Tibetan wall paintings, usually devoid of monks.

On the way we ascend to the Nyi-La pass (3,950 mts.) where we could stop by to soak in the good views of Nilgiri and Annapurna. This pass is the southern boundary of Lo or Mustang itself. Then we descend along colorful rock formations to the village of Ghami.

Ghami is the third largest village in the Lo region and is surrounded by large fields most of which are barren.

Overnight in Ghami

DAY 6             DRIVE TO LOMANTHANG (3,700 M)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The day’s drive will journey us through the beautiful villages of Dragmar, Tsarang and a 1200 year old Ghar Gompa until finally settling at Lomanthang (Drive time: 5 – 6 hours).

From Ghami we continue drive until we pass a little hospital and reach a 308 meters long mani-wall, a sacred stone wall made by the followers Buddhism. From here drive towards Dragmar village. A large stream meanders through this village, making this a particularly pretty valley. Most of the surrounding hills are pastel shades of Grey & yellow, but a huge red fluted cliff provides a dramatic contrast for this location.

After the visit we drive to the Chingye-La pass (3,870 mts.). On the other side of the pass is the village of Tsarang (3,580 mts.), with a maze of fields, willow trees and houses separated by stone walls at the top of the Tsarang Chu canyon.  There is also a huge white Dzong and red Gompa and we can also witness the remainders of the former king’s castle as well as a monastery with thangkas, statues and wall paintings. The old monastery and the adjoining Gompa are said to be some 500 years old and contain some of the finest religious wall paintings in the world. We will also visit a 1200 years old Ghar Gompa with Guru Rinpoche as the primary figure. The Gompa is also famous for its rock paintings. According to the legend, anyone who makes one wish at the Ghar Gompa, their wish is fulfilled. Explore the local area and then continue drive for the day’s destination of Lomanthang.

This is an exciting day as you will see the only walled city place in Nepal. You climb gently above the valley to a large isolated Chorten that marks the boundary between Tsarang and Lo. The trail becomes a grand, wide thoroughfare and eventually you get your first view of the Walled city of Lo Mathang from a ridge at 3,850 mts. A short descent leads onto the ‘Plain of Aspiration’. The only entrance to the city is on the northeast corner, so you circumambulate the wall to the gate, where you are sure to find a group of people spinning wool and gossiping.

Overnight in Lo-Manthang

DAY 7             EXPLORE LO-MANTHANG

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

There is much to do and see in this fabled city. There are some beautiful caves to explore in the Lo Mathang Valley – Some are 4 storeys high and very historically old and ancient. We also visit the summer palace and meet the ex-royals (subject to their availability & permission). We could also ride Mustang horses to get around the Valley. If time permitting we can also ride to the top of the Lo Manthang Valley to look down to the Tibetan Plateau. Its great scenery and fantastic views of the mountains that surround the Valley of Lo.  There is always much activity in Lo Manthang as it was once on the ancient trade route from Tibet to India and although that has now gone, the Lobas still involve themselves in trade with China, Nepal and India.

Overnight in Lo-Manthang

DAY 8             DRIVE LO-MANTHANG – JOMSOM

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

On this day drive back to Jomsom for the night (7 – 8 hours).

Overnight in Jomsom

DAY 9             FLY JOMSOM – POKHARA – KATHMANDU

Meals: Breakfast

With cherishing memories of the feat just accomplished, we will fly back to Pokhara and connect on to the capital for the last night in the Himalayan country.

Time permitting visit Bhaktapur in the afternoon.

BHAKTAPUR DURBAR SQUARE

Located 12 km east of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon literally meaning ‘the City of Devotees’ is the smallest city in the Kathmandu valley. Its Main Square or ‘Layaku’ is famous for the 15th century Palace of 55 Carved Windows with the Golden Gate as a royal entrance. In front of the palace building are innumerable temples and architectural showpieces including the Lion Gate, the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla mounted on a giant stone pillar and the stone temple of Vatsala Devi; another beautiful example of Shikhara-style architecture. There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple, which is also known as the Bell of Barking Dogs. This was erected in 1737 by King Ranjit Malla; its sounding announced the beginning and end of a daily curfew.

Note: The recent earthquake has destroyed few temples in the durbar square premise including Vatsala temple; several structures have sustained minor damages.

Overnight in Kathmandu

DAY 10           FINAL DEPATURE

Meals: Breakfast

We ensure that you will leave Kathmandu with cherishing memory and an experience of a lifetime. Our representative from Yeti Holidays will drive you to the airport in time for your flight back home.

                                                                    END OF THE TOUR

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You are welcome to travel back in time as you enter into the ‘Forbidden Kingdom’ of Upper Mustang that is certain to pull you back at least 200 years; evident from the age-old alleys, mud brick walls, gompas and the Royal Palace. A leisurely day in the lap of Lo-Manthang is certain to fill your soul with an enigma. Take a jeep drive to ‘Lomanthang’ once the walled capital of the Kingdom of ‘Lo’ dating back to 1,380 AD and explore the immense treasure: a mix bag of interesting human history and unmatched glory of the natural beauty.