I almost always get the question “What is Musatang famous for?” So I decided to make a list to summarize the main highlights of Mustang that travelers don’t want to miss out on, and publish an article of the list of 20 things that Mustang Nepal is famous for.

1. Historic Monasteries that date back to the 11th Century. 

Mustang is one of the most ancient and historical places, which are full of monasteries and caves. The entire region is dotted by small settlements, houses, farming fields and monasteries. The whole area looks as it was during the time of Buddha.

There are two types of monasteries in Mustang:

Gompas – it is a type of monastery, which is constructed at a higher elevation usually on top of a hill or mountain to provide spiritual benefit to the people living below.

Chhortens – these are the stupas built in Mustang to honor the departed souls and to ward off evil spirits.

In addition to the many ancient monasteries and stupas, there are a number of small monasteries within each village of Upper Mustang. These traditional gompas contain wall paintings, statues, thangka scroll paintings and other religious objects which are over 800 years old. 

There are more than 25 gompas and chhortens in Upper Mustang. The monasteries in Mustang are also known to preserve ancient Tibetan art and culture. In fact, many of the objects found in these monasteries are antique items that have been preserved since centuries. Some of the monasteries in Mustang even have the most beautiful and oldest Buddhist wall paintings, which date back to the 12th century.

2. Ancient frescoes paintings from the 14th Century

The villages of Lo Manthang are famous for their medieval-looking walled settlements, age-old monasteries and a number of historic caves and rock paintings. But not many people know about the ancient frescoes painted on the walls and ceilings of these caves, which are slowly fading away and disappearing from the face of the earth.

According to experts, these historic paintings were done by different artists in different periods. These include images of Buddha as well as Buddhist saints and deities.

Some paintings date back to as early as the 14th century, while others were done in subsequent centuries. The oldest frescoes are found at Chhoser monastery, which was built in 1430 AD. They were painted during the same period or shortly after the construction of the monastery.

Many paintings in the monasteries of the Upper Mustang region have been restored by an Italian art restoration expert, Luigi Fieni.  Luigi has been working with Nepali and Tibetan monks and devotees for a long time. 

In 2010, he started his work in the Upper Mustang region. Luigi Fieni said that these paintings are not only important for Nepal but also for the world. 

3. Tibetan Buddhist Culture

The land of Mustang has been one of the most isolated regions of Nepal throughout its history. As such, Mustang is the last existing place where Tibetan traditional Buddhist culture is still practiced in its original form. 

Mustang could be an excellent place to get to know the intact Tibetan Buddhist culture, as its effects can still be seen in the arts, language and architecture. Mustang is a hidden paradise of natural beauty, Tibetan art, culture and ancient history. 

It is one of the last surviving places where traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture remains as it did centuries ago.

This means that Mustang is the last remaining place on Earth where Tibetan monks still practice their religion as it was first developed. The culture of Tibet has been preserved in Mustang, a mountainous region of Nepal. It provides a glimpse into a world that has vanished in almost all other parts of the world.

The numerous gompas, chortens and mani walls testify to the devoutness of the people. The dominant Buddhist community of Lo-Manthang is said to be a remnant of the ancient Bon-po religion that predates Buddhism. Although, after centuries of Buddhist influence, there are now five gompas in and around the town. Jampa Lhakhang, built in 1387 by Ame Pal, the founder of Lo-Manthang; Thubchen Gompa, built by Dawa Gyalpo in 1429; Chhoede Gompa, built in 1420 by Rinzin Sangpo; Choprang Gompa and Sanga Gompa. In addition, there is a nunnery at Chhoedhe.

Tibetan Buddhism is the main religion in this region and its effects can be seen in the arts, language, architecture, literature and even their names. The majority of the people believe in this religion and therefore, it is common to see people praying and spinning prayer wheels throughout the day.  Monastery tours are a particularly popular activity for visitors to the region. They are a great way to learn about the culture and history of the region as well as being excellent places to discover rare artworks.  The Tsarang Gompa is one of the most popular gompas in Mustang and was built in 1380 by Ame Pal. This monastery includes some unique murals that adorn its walls and also houses a collection of ancient thangkas (painted or embroidered silk banners).

This land is Mustang. It is a part of Nepal, but in many ways it is a different world altogether. They are culturally distinct from the rest of Nepal and have little contact with the outside world. Only recently has their long isolation come to an end with the opening of a motorway.

This remains one of the major reasons to visit Mustang to learn about its rich Buddhist culture.

4. The Ancient wall city of Lo-Manthang

The walled city was established in 1380 by Ame Pal who was the ruler of Mustang at that time. The ruler built the wall to protect his kingdom from Tibetan troops and it was successful in doing so for many centuries. The architecture of these walls has remained unchanged since then.

Lo Manthang covers an area of about 3 square kilometers and it has 4 gates on each side. It is surrounded by walls made with stones, clay and mortar and has four gates on each side.

These four gates built into these walls at each corner of the city. The wall has been preserved so well that it looks like it was built in recent times. It stands as an interesting example of traditional Tibetan architecture.

Now, the city is a popular trekking destination where thousands of tourists visit every year. This ancient city is located in the Upper Mustang region of Nepal, which was once a restricted area and to explore the region, one had to obtain a special permit for it. The area has been open for tourism since 1992 but still remains one of the most isolated areas in the world due to its remoteness and limitations.

In fact, the region has still managed to preserve its authentic culture and rich heritage which is why a lot of people consider it as one of the most interesting destinations in Nepal.

The ancient walled city of Lo Manthang attracts thousands of visitors every year due to its isolation and preserved culture.

5. Holy Pilgrimage site of Muktinath Temple

Muktinath is a holy place that has its own fantastic and mysterious story. The temple of Muktinath is one of the four most sacred temples of Hindus and Buddhist in South Asia which is located at an altitude of 3,710 m above sea level just below Annapurna II in Mustang, Nepal. 

The pagoda style temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is considered to be over 2000 years old.

The main shrine is a pagoda shaped temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It has 108 waterspouts in the shape of cow’s heads from where waters flow. Water from these spouts is collected in stone reservoirs and used for ritualistic bathing. There are two Kundas adjacent to the temple, one with cold water and the other with boiling water (believed to have medicinal properties).

The temple also houses a statue of Lord Buddha, sanctified by Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), founder of Tibetan Buddhism, who is believed to have meditated at Muktinath on his way to Tibet.

The temple has two ponds on either side called Saraswati Kunda and Surya Kunda, which never dry up or overflow. The holy water inside these two ponds is considered to be very pure as it contains high levels of mica. Hindus take bath in this holy water during their pilgrimage to Muktinath.

After taking bath in 108 waterspouts named “Muktidhara” and two Kundas (ponds) named “GauriKunda and SaraswatiKunda” the pilgrims get darshan of Lord Vishnu. In addition, there is a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The main attraction in Muktinath Temple is saligramam Sila which resembles a form of Vishnu (an avatar of Lord Vishnu). 

This temple is considered to be very sacred by Buddhists. They also call it Chumig Gyatsa, which in Tibetan means ‘Hundred Waters’. They believe that all waters flow into Muktinath – a termination point where nothing can go beyond. Hence it signifies ultimate truth.

6. Dhumba — the heart-shaped lake

Dhumba Lake is a lake in Mustang District, Nepal. It lies at an altitude of 4949 m above sea level and can be reached from Muktinath by a two hour hike. The lake is located in the vicinity of two prominent mountains, Nilgiri to its west and Dhaulagiri to its east. Its shape resembles a heart, and therefore it is sometimes called ‘Heart Lake’.

When you are at Dhumba Lake, you will feel like you are in heaven. The lake is surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains and lush green forests. When you look at the lake from a distance, it looks like a heart.*

There are no hotels in this area but many guest houses have been built near Muktinath Temple for accommodation purposes. Dhumba Lake is famous for its holy water and many trekkers visit this lake as a pilgrimage.

7. Mustang Eco Museum

The Mustang Eco Museum is situated in the village of Jomsom. It is about a 5 minute walk from Jomsom Airport. It is one of the attractions of Mustang. The building itself is a fine example of traditional Mustang architecture with mud walls, rock foundations and a thatched roof. The museum was established to support local communities in the region by providing a base for their cultural and natural heritage products, as well as a place to display their handmade crafts.

The museum also serves as a training center for younger inhabitants of the region. The youth are taught about the importance of preserving their ancient culture and traditions. They are educated on how they can use modern technology to help preserve and promote their cultural heritage.

The main attraction of this museum are wall paintings, thangka paintings, carpets, masks, costumes and various objects related to the historical, religious and cultural aspects of upper mustang.

8. Tiji Festival

The Tiji Festival of Lo Manthang is a three-day festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. It is one of the most famous festivals in Nepal.

The festival was introduced to this region by Guru Rimpoche, who came to Mustang in the 8th century. The story goes that his mission was to subdue the demoness, Machen Pomra, who lived on the peaks above Mustang. He fought with her for three days, and finally vanquished her on the third day. This is the theme of the Tiji Festival: good triumphs over evil

The Tiji Festival is held in Lo Manthang, which is the capital of Upper Mustang, and takes place in May each year. The date shifts according to the Tibetan lunar calendar.

The Tiji Festival occurs to celebrate the victory of good over evil and to pray for harmony and peace for all living beings on earth as well as for rainfall, which is very significant for agriculture, and also personal wellbeing.

The festival also gives an opportunity to people to gather together and share their joy, grief and love

The best way to experience this festival is by staying at a local lodge and interacting with people there. You can also follow along as masked dancers and lamas parade through town.

9. Yartung Festival

One of the main attractions of mustang is the Yartung Festival, which is held every year in May. This festival is organized with a view to bringing together the people of different regions and their distinct culture under one umbrella. The main objective of this festival is to exchange experiences and cultural learning among the people.

The festival includes a variety of programs such as cultural shows, mask dances, archery, horse racing and sports competitions. During this time, people wear traditional costumes and eat local cuisines prepared by local women. They also visit monasteries in the region and pay homage to deities by offering butter lamps.

Yartung Festival is an important festival held in Upper Mustang every year during the month of May. It’s believed that there used to be a huge lake in Kagbeni called Yartung Lake (now dried up), where people used to celebrate this festival by offering prayers for good harvest.

10. Experience Tibetan horseback ride on Mustang

The horseback riding tours in Mustang are a great way to experience the beautiful landscapes and the unique culture of the people. It is not only a great adventure but also a memorable experience. The horseback ride will take you through the deep gorges, high altitude passes and into Kyichu valley, which is inhabited by Thakalis, an indigenous ethnic group. This trip gives you a chance to explore the amazing landscape on horseback while interacting with the locals of Mustang valley.

In Mustang, the horses are bred and trained since generations by the local people. This is why they are used to the high altitude, thin oxygen levels and rough terrain. They are also friendly, calm and very well behaved. In fact, throughout your ride you will feel like having a close relationship with your horse.

The Mustang horse ride is a great way to enjoy the beauty of Mustang as well as experience the ancient tradition of this country, through the horseback riding experience. The adventure on the back of these horses will take you to trails that have been in use for centuries by locals, who have been doing their trading and other activities through this path.

11. The Upper Mustang Trek

Upper Mustang Trek gives you an opportunity to explore the hidden valley of Nepal called Lo-Manthang valley. The trekking trail of the upper mustang follows the Kali Gandaki river and leads you to Lo-Manthang valley; an isolated walled city of this region where the ancient Buddhist culture is still alive.

This trekking is also known as a restricted area trekking because it requires special permits from the government of Nepal to get into this region. You can only manage this permit through a registered trekking company and you need to go with a registered guide.

The Upper Mustang Trek is one of the most popular trekking routes in Nepal, especially for those with a keen interest in Tibetan culture and the Himalayan lifestyle.

Upper Mustang offers trekkers an amazing opportunity to learn about the ancient culture, traditions and way of life of the people living in this area. It is also a great chance for visitors to enjoy some of the most beautiful landscapes, mountains and valleys found within the Himalayan region.

Upper Mustang is located in the northwestern part of Nepal and is one of the most isolated regions within the country. The region was closed to foreigners until 1992 when permits were issued. The region consists of two distinct areas – Upper Mustang and Lower Mustang. Both these areas are now teeming with tourists seeking to explore an ancient civilization that has long been cut off from mainstream society.

12. Mustang Jeep Safari Tour

Mustang Jeep Safari tour is one of the most popular tours in Nepal. The tour is full of adventure and excitement that you can have with your friends, family and loved ones. The jeep safari tour offers you an amazing opportunity to explore the untouched and undisturbed region of Mustang in a very unique way.

You will be visiting the ancient capital city of Lo-Manthang, which was once part of the Tibetan empire, with a history that goes back more than a thousand years. You will also be visiting the ancient kingdom of Mustang, which is the last remaining Himalayan kingdom. This is where you will get to see many beautiful ancient monasteries, palaces, chortens and stupas that are still intact after centuries of existence.

The Mustang Jeep Safari Tour is considered as one of the best ways to visit Mustang in Nepal due to the nature of the road and destination. This jeep safari tour takes you through some breathtaking landscapes along with ancient places that you can visit during this jeep safari tour. You will also discover many hidden places during this exciting jeep safari in Mustang, which makes it very interesting for all kinds of travelers

13. Apple pies and Orchards in Marpha

Mustang district in far western Nepal is popular for apples and products made of apple. Although the production of apple is very high in the region, lack of proper transportation facilities make it difficult to sell it in the Nepali market.

The district’s upper part has been used as a transit point for trading between Tibet and Nepal since ages. In course of time, the lower part also became a regular trading route. People started to settle here and agriculture became their main occupation. They grew crops in terrace farming and started cultivating apples. The apples grown here are considered to be one of the finest apples in the world.

The orchards in Marpha village, which lies along the Kali Gandaki River bank, have become a major tourist attraction these days. Visitors from different parts of Nepal as well as from overseas come here to see the orchards and taste its fruits.

Marpha is located at an altitude of 2,615 meters (8,578 feet) above sea level and about 200 kilometers away from Pokhara city. You can reach Marpha either by trekking or by road via Jomsom that takes about five hours drive from Pokhara by jeep or bus.

14. The Last Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang

For millennia, the Kingdom of Mustang has been shrouded in myth and mystery. This is a place where the influence of the modern world has barely intruded, where people still wear traditional dress and live much as they have done for hundreds of years. The capital Lo Manthang, sometimes known as the Forbidden City, is a walled city dating back to 1380, when it was founded by King Ame Pal.

The Kingdom of Mustang had its heyday between 1380 and 1565 CE. But after that, it went into decline, losing territory to other kingdoms. By the 1800s, Mustang had become a vassal state under the rule of Nepal.

In 2008, the Kingdom of Mustang was made one of Nepal’s 75 districts and became part of Nepal proper. Today it has a population of roughly 14,000 people and an area of 3,573 square kilometers (1,375 square miles).

15. Adventure Sports – Mountain Biking in Mustang

Mountain Biking is one of the popular adventures in the Mustang region of Nepal. It is a combination of exciting and challenging biking in the high Himalayas. This place is very remote, pristine, and unspoiled by modern civilization. There are no paved roads here. You will be biking on dirt tracks and paths, which were used for centuries by locals to travel from village to village.

This trip is not only the best mountain biking experience but also the best cultural experience with the blend of Tibetan culture and Hindu culture. Riders will ride through beautiful villages, cross high passes, enjoy riverside and desert landscape, breathtaking Himalayan views, spectacular gorges leading to Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges.

16. Origin of the famous Thakali food

A rich and varied cuisine, Thakali food is originally from Mustang and is famous throughout Nepal.

This cuisine was originally developed by the Thakalis who used to do trade in Tibet. It was a result of their skill in using the local ingredients that they came up with delicious dishes. They soon became known for their cooking skills and even today, Thakali food is considered as some of the finest food in Nepal.

The speciality of this cuisine lies in the use of fresh ingredients and spices which make them tasty as well as healthy. A lot of oil is used in the preparation of dishes which gives it a unique flavor. The combination of tomato, mustard seeds, onion and garlic paste is used to give the dishes their unique flavor.

Mostly vegetarian, this cuisine also includes dishes made from buffalo meat, chicken along with various kinds of pickle, chutney and papad

17. Man made sky caves in mustang

Upper Mustang is one of the best examples of cave civilization in the Himalayan region. Man-made caves in Mustang are found all over the region. In former times, the inhabitants of this area lived in caves. There are many caves in Upper Mustang, which have beautiful paintings of Buddhist deities and sanctuaries inside them.

The history of these caves dates back to more than 1000 years ago. During that time, Buddhism was very popular in this region. The caves were used as monasteries and meditation centers for Buddhist monks. The people also lived inside these caves for shelter and protection from extreme weather conditions. Today, these caves are mostly deserted and abandoned.

The Sky Caves of Nepal, also known as the Mustang Caves, refers to 10,000 artificial caves constructed in the Mustang District of Nepal. The caves were likely used for a variety of purposes including storage and habitation. They were built into cliffs in the late 13th century and are found primarily in two gorges carved by rivers that flow into the Kali Gandaki River.

The caves are located in the Kali Gandaki Gorge, at an altitude of 2,700 meters to 3,300 meters. The caves range in size from a single square meter to several hundred square meters, with most having been carved out as living space for entire families. They were excavated from the cliffs along the banks of the Kaligandaki River and its tributaries, which flow through the district.

18. Thorong La pass

One of the most famous passes in Nepal is the Thorong La Pass. It stands at a height of 5416m and is one of the highest points on any trek in Nepal. The Thorong La Pass is located between Manang and Mustang and for that reason most people doing a circuit of the Annapurna conservation area will visit the pass.

The other reason for its popularity is that it is considered to be one of the toughest passes in Nepal. It is tough because it starts from a relatively low elevation (compared to other high passes) which means there are very few trekkers acclimatized to altitude.

19. Red and Blue Mountains in Mustang

The red and blue mountains is a symbolic sight that is special to Mustang. 

20. Palaces in Mustang