User Rating:  / 2

by Rick Green

Geling duo in Lo ManthangMeasured elephantine blasts from the gleaming twelve-foot brass and copper horns erupted over the backdrop of the brisk Himalayan breeze. Accompanied by smaller horns and assorted percussion, the musicians struck a lilting cadence that drew out a troupe of costumed monks from the arched entrance of Chyodi Gompa.

The stout maroon edifice is the last remaining training monastery in the Kingdom of Mustang, a semi-autonomous region in Nepal on the Tibetan border. Chyodi rises prominently from amongst a warren of houses enclosed within the medieval walls of Lo Manthang, Mustang's capital.

The musical commotion attracted a handful of scruffy onlookers who gathered themselves along the top of the earthen walls defining the courtyard's perimeter. As the masked performers lurched down the broad steps, they gradually fanned out into the gray, dusty enclosure, whirling in a mysterious choreography that spoke a fantastic language.

This represented the myth of Dorje Jono, a Buddhist deity who saved his people from the vagaries of a drought brought upon them by his demon father. Normally the tale is performed over three days during Mustang's annual Tiji festival that falls sometime between mid-May and mid-June. However, the Chyodi monks treated us to an abridged performance since our trekking party arrived a month too early.

Read more...

User Rating:  / 1

by Rick Green

Traveling Trader, MustangIt's easy to take simple things for granted. But when they unexpectedly serve a vital purpose, like preserving your dignity, indifference can turn to reverence.

There were seven of us, along with our guides, porters, and horses. Earl and Nazima, two photographers I was working with, had suggested we go to Mustang, a semi-autonomous kingdom in northern Nepal and one of the few remaining pockets of traditional Tibetan culture. In the 1950s, Mustang had been a base for the insurgency against the Chinese occupation of Tibet, which was why it had been closed to foreigners until 1992.

"Why not go there before it’s ruined?" they asked.

Read more...

User Rating:  / 4

by Rick Green

Lo Manthang SkylineI felt like Goldilocks making myself at home while the bears were away, only we didn't eat any porridge, sleep in the palace, or stay until the King returned.

It had taken us four days of strenuous trekking through the rainshadow of the Himalayas to reach Manthang, capital of the legendary Kingdom of Lo, or Mustang. For our efforts, we had hoped for an audience with the royal couple, but they were still en route from their annual sojourn in Kathmandu.

With the duration of our trekking permits limiting us to just one full day in Manthang, we managed to persuade the palace caretaker to show us around.

Unlocking the heavy timber door, he led us down a dark, dank, earthen-floored hallway. Ahead of us a lifeless figure materialized from out of the murk, a stuffed dog hung piñata-like from the ceiling. It was the raja's (Lo Gyelbu) first dog, a rare red mastiff preserved for posterity, forever on guard.

Read more...