Capital of the former Kingdom of Lo, Lo Manthang is a major highlight of Upper Mustang Trek Nepal. According to the legend, Kingdom of Lo was founded by Ame Pal, which date back 1380. In the rain shadow of Mount Annapurna and Mount Dhaulagiri, the region is often known as district beyond the Himalayas of Nepal. Until 2008, Upper Mustang used to be a separate kingdom with its own rules and regulations. Before 2008 Nepal used to be a kingdom and so was Upper Mustang. However, after the protest by the people Nepal became a republic government. Right from that time King of Upper Mustang “Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista”, also lost his title of king. Born on 1933, Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista was the 25th ceremonial king in a direct line of rulers dating back 10 1380 A.D.
Statically, now Lo Manthang is a village development committee (vdc) in Mustang. More precisely Mustang is one out of seventy five districts in Nepal. Also, it is a part of Dhaulagiri Zone. Census of 1991 had counted 876 people living in 178 houses in Lo Manthang. Entire tribes are ethnic Lhobas. Geographically Lo is two thirds of Mustang. Where one third belong to the southern part of Thak Khola. Native Thakali people reside on Thak Belt of Mustang. Salt trade with Tibet, tourism and animal husbandry is the major sources of livelihood of people. Being a plain area, there is a good road and it had brought significant changes on living. Kaligandaki river is supposed to be older than the Himalayas of Nepal. Kagbeni is another significant village on the entry line of Upper Mustang. You will have two different options to explore Lo Manthang. Trek or Drive. From Kagbeni you can get cargo trucks, also you can rent a bike in Jomsom. Other options of trek needs ten days. Including an exploration day in Lo Manthang, Kagbeni to Kagbeni is a ten day trip.
A nine cornered, five story king’s palace is a major highlight of Lo Manthang. Three days long Tiji Festival is held in courtyard of the former king’s palace. A palace built in 1400 AD. The entire village is surrounded by huge walls on either side. It is also known city of wall. Inside the rectangular wall of Lo, lhobas has divided it into four different territories. Each territory is supposed to be guarded by specific deities. There are four major temples (Gompa) in Lo. Jampa Gompa (Jampa Lhakhang) is the oldest one, built in the early 15th century. On the southwest of Jampa Gompa, there is a huge red Gompa named Thubchen Gompa. It was built on the late 15th century. Chodey Gompa is now the main city Gompa. Also often known as New Gompa, Choprang Gompa is another major Gompa of Lo Manthang. Before the devastating earthquake of April25th, 2015, permit cost was USD 50 per person per day. However, to increase the flow of tourist Nepal Immigration is planning to implement new permit rate. Updated permit rate might be USD 10 per person per day. But this is not officially approved yet.
As a part of trans Himalayan salt trading route, Kaligandaki river flows south of Lo toward Terai. A part of it, one river valley on Kaligandaki measure deepest gorge in the world. Until 1950, this trade route between Tibet and India was active with lowest 4,660 m of the Kora La Pass. Upper Mustang is still unexplored at its fullest. In 2007, a local shepherd discovered collections of 55 caves with a painting of depicting life of Buddha. If you can’t make to Tibet, visit Lo Manthang. The feeling of history and peace of Lo.
The first foreigner, who had visited Upper Mustang was Toni Hagen. He was a swiss explorer and geologist. He had explored Upper Mustang in 1952. Follow his unspoiled footsteps before it gets heavily trekked.