Mustang was once an independent kingdom, although closely tied by language and culture to Tibet. From the 15th century to the 17th century, its strategic location granted Mustang control over the trade between the Himalayas and India. At the end of the 18th century the kingdom was annexed by Nepal and became a dependency of the Kingdom of Nepal since 1795.Kingdom of Lo Manthang supported Tibet and the Qing Empire during the Sino-Nepalese War.
Though still recognized by many Mustang residents, the monarchy ceased to exist on October 7, 2008, by order of the Government of Nepal. The last official and later unofficial king (raja or gyelpo) was Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista (1930–2016), who traced his lineage directly back to Ame Pal, the warrior who founded 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 that has changed little in appearance since that time period.
Upper Mustang (formerly Kingdom of Lo) is an upper part (Northern area) of Mustang District, which is located in Nepal. The Upper Mustang was a restricted kingdom and demilitarized area until 1992 which makes it one of the most preserved regions in the world, with a majority of the population still speaking traditional Tibetan languages. Tibetan culture has been preserved by the relative isolation of the region from the outside world. Life in Mustang revolves around tourism, animal husbandry and trade. The Upper Mustang comprise the northern two-thirds of Mustang District of Gandaki Province, Nepal. It consists of three rural municipalities namely Lo Manthang, Dalome, and Baragung Muktichhetra.
The southern third (lower Mustang) of the district is called Thak and is the homeland of the Thakali, who speak the Thakali language, and whose culture combines Tibetan and Nepalese elements. Mustang’s status as a kingdom ended in 2008 when its suzerain Kingdom of Nepal became a republic.
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$50 per day per person. Most tourists travel by foot over largely the same trade route used in the 15th century. 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 authorized exploration of Mustang in 1964.
According to history and Locals from Lho Kingdom (Upper Mustang) , There were four re-treat complexes which are now as meditation caves or re-treat centers as Ganden ling , Phuntsok Ling , Ritse ling and Konchok ling in Inner Mustang, among them some are in good condition and restored as monasteries, some of these re-treat sites (caves) has only significant sign inside due to soil erosion .Those places are dated more than 500 years, Phuntsog ling is the most damaged externally by climate change and human activities. Konchok Ling cave is on steep part and need rope to climb up there.
Major attraction of Upper Mustang:
- Kaligandaki gorge – river and Shaligram shila (fossils of ammonite shells on stone)
- Muktinath Temple
- Kagbeni – Temple, red monastery (Kag Chode Thubten Samphel Ling Monastery)
- Manti lhakhang at Chhuksang and Monastery
- Ranchun Cave (Chunsi Cave), Tangbe Village
- Man Made Sky caves dated 3000 years
- Lo Gekar (Ghar Gompa)
- Charang Palace
- Charang Monastery
- Lo-Manthang – Jhyampa Monastery – Thubchen Monastery – Choedye Monastery – Lo Manthang Palace – King’s Tom – Namgyal Monastery – Thinggar/ Thingkar village
- Chosar – sky caves, Lo-Nifu Gompa – Lo Gurfu Gompa (Lo Garphuk Kanying Samten Choeling Monastery)- Jhong cavem Barkha village, Kimaling etc
- Koncholing cave Monastery
- Ritseling Cave Monastery
- Chodzong Gompa
- Luri Gompa, Yara – Ghara
- Beautiful Chortans at Tangee Village
- Kimbu Gompa,Samdzong, Makhchung, Amka
- Natural beauty of Himalaya from different places- beautiful villages