Mustang, the hidden kingdom in the kingdom
The kingdom of Mustang is part of Nepal.
Mustang's king is HRM Jigme Palbar Bistar.
Mustang got its name from Tibetan Mun Tan, which means fertile plain. Mustang or the Kingdom of Lo is part of the Kingdom of Nepal and one of its districts. In the north-east, Mustang is bordering Tibet on the Central Asian plateau between the Nepalese provinces of Dolpo and Manang. It is roughly 80 km long (north-south) and 45 km at its widest, and is at an elevation of over 2500 m. The population is around 9,000, spread between three towns and approximately thirty smaller settlements; the people are either Thakkali or Tibetan.
In 1999, I had the rare chance to obtain a permit to visit this restricted area in Nepal with was completely closed for foreigners until 1991. When we entered the kingdom in Kagbeni on the trek, we had to register our names and nationalities into a list at the checkpoint. Our friend Fritz Felder was the 1227th Swiss visitor, I was the 1834th German visitor and my wife was the first Thai visitor who came to Lo Mantang after 1991. In the city of Mustang we had the great honour to get an audience with HRM the king of Mustang, speaking with him more than two hours with the help of a Tibetan translator.
Some themes the High Majesty spoke about were sad. Mustang had been supported by the USA for a long time before President Nixon and Mao Tse Dong improved US-Chinese relations. After subsequently cutting off American support, Mustang (or Lo Mantang) became the poorest district in Nepal, and its habitants suffer under the poor conditions the area provides.
We have high respect for this good king who cares very much for the health and the living standard of his 9000 citizens and who does not mind working among his people on the field.
The images I am showing here are scanned transparencies which I originally took in May 1999. If anyone is interested to trek to this hidden kingdom, you can contact me for further information. But be advised that the destination Mustang city can only be reached by trekking for more than 10 days over a distance of 180 km, crossing six passes with an altitude of more than 4000 m, breathing a lot of dust and weathering storms with more than 120 km an hour.
Enjoy my set, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
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