Lo Manthang: Amble back a millennium in time
Nepal is notorious for its mountainous and high-altitude settlements. Every year, a stream of tourists visit Nepal to experience a part of that beauty and uniqueness Nepal has to offer. Among thousands of such villages is the hidden capital of an old Tibetan kingdom: Lo Manthang.
The settlement is located in an ancient trade route between Nepal and Tibet, between the hills of Upper Mustang. This mystical Buddhist town to this day retains its authenticity and heritage. It surprises me how many people skip this part of Nepal as they seek more branded locations like ABC, EBC or the Thorang La pass. Don’t get me wrong, all these places are equally beautiful. But none of them showcase and blend the character of ancient Nepal, Tibet and Buddhism quite like Lo Manthang does.
If Lo Manthang sounds interesting to you, you will be happy to know that there are plenty of options to get there. You can do the old-school hiking, you can cycle there, you can ride in a motorbike or even take a car.
Manthang is arguably the most famous and adventurous bike riding routes of Nepal. You are bound to be stricken by the experience of riding through the mountains, into the alpine desert and to the old city. Cycling would be more or less the same, but much harder of course.
I still recommend trekking though. I think you can’t compete with the vigor of walking through and slowly taking in everything around you. In case of emergency, you can always hop on a jeep back home.
You can find itineraries from 6 days to 15 days on visiting Lo Manthang. Rest assured, you wont ever be out of options for going.
Understanding where you are
The kingdom of Lo was one of the numerous small Nepali kingdoms before its unification in the 18th century. This predominantly Tibetan settlement has been serving as a trade route between Nepal and Tibet since as early as the 14th century. Located high on Nepali hills at 3800m this town is full of old monuments, caves and Buddhist monastery over 1000 years old. You will also find Tibetian scripts written in gold dating back to the 13th century.
Today the Lhobas are the primary resident of Lo Manthang and contribute greatly to preserving its Buddhist heritage. The outer wall of the city stands intact and the moment you pass it, you are transported into a different era. Medieval Nepali architecture at its best, you will feel a profound weight of culture and tradition on you as you roam the numerous small pavements of the city.
Get the most out of your experience
I have already mentioned that walking is the best way to get there. My reasoning for this is quite simple. On Lo Manthang, You will be standing on pavements, looking at monuments and experiencing culture that has been here for more than a millennium. You don’t want to waste a single moment of it. This might very well be the only time in your life that you will see and feel something of the sort.
Be nice to the people around there and don’t be condescending towards their culture. Make sure not to improperly dispose waste. If you are a tourist, keep in mind that just 30 years ago, you weren’t even allowed to set foot in the region because of its importance in heritage and culture.
You should look out for tiny streets and symbols all around you. Ask around, hear stories of the people there, ask about their ancestors, their lifestyle. Get as much information about the city as you can, you never know what story is lurking behind each person and each monument.
See another one of my travel blogs here.