Lo Manthang: The Heart of Upper Mustang
Visit the walls of Lo Manthang during Upper Mustang Trek, also usually known as ‘The Heart of Upper Mustang’. Here, we can see the horses running freely across the fields, rivers and routes. Lo Manthang gives us plenty of awesome landscape views quite similar to that of Tibetan plateau along with excellent views of snow capped Himalayas across the Nepal-Tibet border.
At the southern walls that surround the city, there is a single entrance to Lo. From this entrance, only King, Queen and Kempo (Guru/Abbot) can ride, whereas all other have to walk through to pay respect to Chengring, the Buddha of compassion. The present King of Mustang, Jigme Palbar Bista is the 25th descendent of Ame Pal. He is also called as Lo Gyalbu by Local inhabitants and lives at four storey palace at Lo. As most of the kings, he loves horse riding and has his own stable of some of the best horses in Mustang. In present days, King involves in few ceremonial roles only, however he is loved and respected all over this Mustang region.
The four main ancient monasteries or shrines are Jampa Lhakhang from 14th century which is red bricked and the oldest monastery with huge clay statue of Buddha more than 50ft height. Similarly, another one is Thubchen monastery from 15th century that has huge hall with awesome murals. The remaining two shrines are Chhoede monastery and Choprang gompa. At Lo Manthang, the King’s palace looks like a maze of a village, which will be exciting to visit and explore.
The caste discrimination has always been there as upper caste lobas and lower caste Lobas. There lives around one thousand Lobas at around 180 houses within the walls of village while most of the lower caste lives outside the walls. The Lobas community still follows the polyandry system. During the 13th century, King Ame Pal declared his reign at Lo which is now the walled city of Lo Manthang, Capital of Mustang region and the local inhabitants are called as Lobas. Here inside the walls at Lo Manthang, we can see some of the largest and finest Tibetan monasteries and the local people follow the Tibetan Buddhism culture tradition similar to Tibetan lifestyle.