Mustang( Nepali: मुस्तांग "fertile plain"), anciently Kingdom of Lo, is a obscure and isolated region of the Nepalese Himalayas. The Upper Mustang was a repressed demilitarized area until 1992 which makes it one of the most conserved regions in the world, with a superiority of the population still speaking traditional Tibetic languages . Tibetan culture has been conserved by the relative isolation of the region from the outside world.
The Upper Mustang compose the northern two-thirds of Mustang District of Dhawalagiri Zone, Nepal. The southern third of the district is called Thak and is the motherland of the Thakali, who speak the Thakali language, and whose culture combines Tibetan andNepalese elements. Life in Mustang rotates around tourism, animal husbandry and trade.
Mustang's status as a kingdom completed in 2008 when its suzerain Kingdom of Nepal became a republic. The influence of the outside world, specially China, is growing and devoting to rapid change in the lives of Mustang's people.
Upper Mustang has a transhimalayan climate which is cool and semi-arid with condensation in the area of 250–400 mm. It is in therain shadow of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri area.
The population of the whole Mustang District in 2001 was 14,981, advance between three towns and comparatively thirty smaller settlements. The inhabitants are either Thakalis, Gurung or, in traditional Mustang, mainly Tibetan.
The Most of the population of Mustang lives near the Kali Gandaki River, 2800–3900 m above sea stable.The tough conditions cause a big winter migration into lower regions of Nepal. The administrative central of Mustang District is at Jomsom (eight kilometers south of Kagbeni) which has had an airport since 1962 and has become the major tourist entry point since Mustang was not closed to western tourism in 1992.
The major hydrographic character of Mustang is the Kali Gandaki River. The river runs southward towards Nepal Terai, crossing Mustang. Routes paralleling the river once provided as a major trade route between Tibet and India, specially for salt. Part of the river valley in the southern Mustang District forms by some measures the nethermost gorge in the world.
Conventional Mustang (the Lo Kingdom) is 53 km north–south at its biggest , 60 km east–west at its widest and area from a low point of 2750 m above sea level on the Kali Gandaki River just north of Kagbeni to 6700 m at Khamjung Himal, a peak in southeast Mustang.
The Upper Mustang is on an remote trade route between Nepal and Tibet utilizing the lowest 4,660 metres (15,300 ft) pass Kora La through the Himalaya west of Sikkim. This route continued in use until China's annexation of Tibet in 1950.
Mechanized access inside Nepal began with the opening of an airstrip at Jomsom at the approximate boundary between the southernThak and northern Lo sections of the valley, which was in application by the 1960s.
China eventually determined to revitalize trade and in 2001 ended a 20 kilometres (12 mi) road from the international border to Lo Manthang. Across the TAR border is Zhongba County of Shigatse Prefecture. China National Highway 219 pursue the valley of theYarlung Tsangpo River some 50 kilometres (31 mi) north of the border.
Meanwhile, road-building from the south was constrained by difficulties along the Kali Gandaki Gorge to the south, but advanced incrementally. In 2010 a 9 kilometres (6 mi) gap continued but the road was finished before 2015 and is suitable for high clearance and 4WD vehicles. Currently, the easiest and only widely used road aisle from Kathmandu to Lhasa—titled Arniko Highway in Nepal andChina National Highway 318 in the TAR—traverses a 5,125 metres (16,810 ft) pass. This is some 465 metres (1,530 ft) higher than Kora La.
Mustang was once an autonomous kingdom, although jointly fixed by language and culture to Tibet. From the 15th century to the 17th century, its strategic location admitted Mustang control over the trade between the Himalayas and India. At the end of the 18th century the kingdom was adjoined by Nepal.
Though still accepted by many Mustang residents, the monarchy closed 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 c.1933), who traces his lineage precisely back to Ame Pal , the warrior who established 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.
In 2007, a shepherd in Mustang discovered a collection of 55 cave paintings depicting the life of the Buddha.
Rigsum Gönpo and Buddhist prayer flags at the entrance of Samar
Foreign visitors have been allowed to the region since 1992, but tourism to Upper Mustang is regulated. Foreigners need to obtain a special permit to enter, costing US$500 per person for 10days and after 10 days per day USD $ 50, minimum two person require for permit. Most tourists travel by foot over largely the same trade route used in the 15th century. Over a thousand western trekkers now visit each year, with over 2,000 in 2008. August and October are the peak visiting months. On August 27, 2010, local youth leaders in Mustang threatened to bar tourists beginning October 1, 2010 due to the refusal of the Nepalese government to provide any of the $50 per day fee to the local economy. Visitation, however, continued uninterrupted beyond that date.
Mustang is rich in Buddhist culture, similar to the area of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. It is an alternate way to experience the Tibetan culture and landscape to the tours provided by the Chinese government. The Tiji festival in Lo-Manthang is another popular destination for tourists in the area seeking to experience the native culture.
The first westerner in Mustang was Toni Hagen, Swiss explorer and geologist, who visited the Kingdom in 1952 during one of his travels across the Himalayas. French Michel Peissel is considered the first westerner to stay in Lo Manthang, during the first authorised exploration of Mustang in 1964