Who says dreams don’t come true? No wonder, people say, "If you want something with all your heart, the entire universe conspires in helping you achieve it."
After a good number of months dreaming of the paradise on the earth, Upper Mustang, we couldn’t help but do all that we could to make the dream come true. The quote came to life when we, a bunch of 3rd year architecture students, reached upper Mustang where skies have a different hue and everything is simply heavenly.
Altogether 13 of us headed towards our ultimate destination on 27 Baisakh 2073. With the amalgamation of excitement, fear and happiness we bid goodbye to Kathmandu and headed towards our very first stop, Beni. After a long, utterly tiring 10 hour ride with traffic and friction, we finally reached and stayed at a local hotel which turned out to be quite a disappointment because of the service they provided.
The next morning, we rode a jeep and set off to Jomsom. A bumpy ride it was, like a roller coaster that only went up. We were climbing higher and higher; we didn’t realize it took us 6 hours to get to Jomsom with the most breathtaking Rupche waterfall on the way. No wonder they call it the most beautiful waterfall of Nepal. When we were on the ride, we noticed the entire landscape change. The weather, unfortunately, was foggy and we were unable to see Nilgiri Himal but we were hopeful for the next morning.
We decided to go for a brief walk to Dhumba lake which is about 1 hour walk from Jomsom. The surrounding of the lake was picturesque. Apparently, Dhumba lake also carries holy significance for the local people. Fortunately, Nilgiri showed its magnificence the other morning. Its beauty uplifted our spirits. However, the lands of remote upper Mustang was yet to be explored.
We took a jeep from Jomsom to Chussang. We walked towards our 4th destination Samar as suggested by our friend who had been to upper Mustang before. The beautiful transformation of the landscape while walking from Chussang to Chele left us awestruck. At Chele, we were welcomed by a very delicious local juice of Toraberry. We enjoyed not only the amazing scenery but also the terrifying winds up there; the wind was so strong that our caps were flown away.
On our way, we passed through an amazing gorge. Among the natural scenery which included the mountain rocks, the deep gorge itself was enough to take our breaths away. We climbed through the narrow steep road with harsh wind blowing against our faces. One step in a wrong direction and we could go tumbling down into the canal down there. It was dangerous but sure was exciting. Moreover, we can proudly announce that we got over our fear of heights.
After passing the gorge on our way, beautiful Samar village at the top welcomed us with an amazing view; the shades of green and orange in layers of mountains were ragingly magnificent. Analogy it was, as we were discovering layers within ourselves; the layers of emotion, the layers of excitement.
Being a yoga enthusiast, I indulged in morning yoga in Mustang too. The morning session used to be rejuvenating since I was always accompanied by the freshest and cleanest surrounding, with horses grazing at our vicinity. What more can a yogi ask for?
We reserved a jeep for us to reach Lomanthang the next morning. We, the “back-benchers” of the jeep decided to hang on to the rear of the jeep; the fun we had was worth the dust we were covered in.
The Tsarang people we were greeted by, were very approachable. Their hospitality was heartwarming. I got to go on a bike ride around Tsarang with my friend. The owner of the bike refused to take a single penny for it. He just gave us his keys with utmost generosity. My gratitude knew no bounds.
We also visited an 800 year old gumba and a palace in Tsarang. We later came to know its rich history and its importance through a local monk, Kunga Gurung, our guide for the day. Our joy knew no bounds when we reached our ultimate destination Lomanthang after an hour ride. Being an architecture student, we were pretty amazed by the ancient architecture of the “Forbidden City”. The pattern of settlement inside the huge walls of the city was maze-like which would eventually lead you to the palace if taken the right paths.
Later in the evening, all 13 of us gathered together near a bonfire, sharing our thoughts and secrets. It's amazing how journeys bring in intimacy.
Next morning we went to visit Choser caves. Among the caves, Jhong cave was carved by the indigenous population some 3000 years ago. It is a 5 storey cave built during Tibetan war fully equipped with apartment-like features having kitchen, rooms and toilets as well.
We bid goodbye to Lomanthang the other day and on a very wretched jeep which, otherwise, looked like a brand new when we started, we headed towards the more popular destination, Muktinath. It managed to break at times, but fortunately, we did reach Muktinath safely.
In comparison to where we had been previously, Muktinath looked like a fully equipped city. The very next morning, we visited Muktinath temple. The religious beliefs kept aside, we, being an excited bunch of typical college students, had fun running under the coldest shower we had ever experienced, mostly as a challenge. Hopefully all of our “sins” did wash off too.
After taking photos as evidence and enjoying the beautiful scenery in Ranipauwa, we headed back to Jomsom. We decided to walk. The walk was mostly downhill and through the riverside. Nevertheless, we had fun. Some of us got a tractor-ride later which was unforgettable.
Jomsom satisfied us with the same warm hospitality that we had before.
We decided to stay in Pokhara to shed off some dirt that we had been carrying. On Jestha 8, we packed our bags for Pokhara. We reached there after 7 hours of bus-ride. We set aside our trekking bags, made ourselves presentable and headed to local Thakali Khana Ghar. It felt like we just time travelled. The time and the space in Mustang's hills were completely different from those in Pokhara's restaurant. Everything differed from what we had experienced during the last two weeks. Mustang, we realized, was as if it was set in some different timeframe in some different planet.
After a night in Pokhara, we returned back to Kathmandu, not only carrying backpacks with marpha and dried apples, but also with tons of memories enough to last lifetime.
This article was first published in The Himalayan Times.
By: Smriti Maharjan . She is 4th year Architecture student (Acme Engineering College ) and a yoga enthusiast