Lo Manthang on a Scooter

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It is true that lying on a comfortable chair or couch in the house, watching your favorite movie can give you peace of mind. But that is not the only definition of peace. Sometimes taking your body on an adventure, making it gasp for breath, not letting it rest when it asks for, can also give you peace of mind. This is the definition of peace we explored on our recent trip to Lomanthang. In this episode we are trying to share it with you. 

Lo Manthang in Mustang is not an easily accessible destination. Even if you travel in a hurry, it takes 2 days to reach Lomanthang from Kathmandu. As the road condition is not that good, everyone who arrives there complains that their body is aching and they have to travel on a difficult road. If that is the case when traveling on a comfortable seat of a car, then think, what we went through when traveling to Lomanthang on a scooter? 

Honda Scooters at Lo Manthang Photo : Amir Shrestha

But there is nothing to grieve about. We have chosen this grief ourselves. The human race is probably like that. They seek to do what is not done before. Maybe that’s why we wanted to reach Lomanthang with a 125cc Honda scooter. After deciding on our trip we were doubting if it was possible or not. But Nepalis don’t have the habit of retreating after deciding on something. So we decided to do it anyway. It is that decision that enabled us to present this episode to you today. This Scooter trip to Lomanthang is full of Difficulties, Fatigue as well as Satisfaction, and achievement. We welcome you to this beautiful Journey. Be ready to embrace the new definition of peace.    

We decided to reach Lomanthang but we were not sure how we would do it. First of all the main thing was what would we do if our scooter breaks down during the trip. Similarly taking a scooter having a fuel capacity of only 5 liters to Lomanthang wasn’t easy. We needed to carry an extra container of fuel. These things were to be managed beforehand to ensure a successful journey. 

As we planned to reach Pokhara on the first day of the trip, we were not in a hurry. On the way, we stopped for a while to have our lunch at Ramailo Danda and headed towards Pokhara, the city of lakes. As the summer was approaching the road was hotter than we expected.  We reached Pokhara in the evening on a scooter, experiencing the warm breeze of the highway. When we reached Pokhara, there was a long line at the petrol pump. As a strike of petrol traders was about to begin the next day. We also stayed in the line for about two hours and filled two scooters and a 20 liter Gallon. After filling the scooter, we headed towards our hotel Himalayan front without any delay.

Due to the poor weather in the morning, we could not see the beautiful view of the mountains from the hotel. But we could see Pokhara city from the hotel. After a while, the rain started pouring. The journey to Lomanthang was a long one so halting our journey due to rain wasn’t an option. So, we started preparing for the Journey after breakfast.

After breakfast, we proceeded towards Beni via Kaskikot. On the way, we met our subscribers

The road to Kaskikot was narrow yet blacktopped. While riding along that road we got a chance to see the small villages nearby. It was a beautiful place with small settlements. After traveling through the beauty of the village for a while, we reached Naudanda. The road from Kaskikot reaches Naudanda and gets connected to the Pokhara-Baglung highway.

We started to travel the hilly roads of the Pokhara-Baglung Highway after crossing Naudanda. We forgot the fatigue of the previous day while riding the scooter on that beautiful road.

After reaching Maldhunga, we can see two roads, one that leads to Dhorpatan and the next to Mustang.  From there, we took the road to Mustang via Beni and moved towards our destination. The offroad had already started. That one small thing was enough to make us realize that we were going to Mustang. (Heaven for off-road riders ).  After traveling offroad for a while, we reached Beni Bazaar.

Riding on the Off roads Photo : Amir Shrestha

Lete is about 41 kilometers away from Beni. To get there, you have to go through Tatopani and Dana. As the construction work was going on, the road was good and bad at the same time. Somewhere it was graveled and somewhere it was completely off road.  During the journey, we had to cross many small rivers that flowed through the middle of the road. Along with the journey, the geography before us was also changing. Traveling through the greenery of the mountains, we had entered new geography made only of rock as we moved towards Lete. 

The journey will not always turn out the way we expect it to be. What we were trying to run away from caught us on the way. Before reaching Tatopani, we had to face a big downpour. So, we decided to stop at Tatopani for a while as it would be uncomfortable for us to travel on the slippery road.

We were lucky that as we were having our tea at Tatopani the downpour came to a halt. To reach Lete, one has to travel two more hours offroad. It was evening when we reached Rupse waterfall. The waterfall was so beautiful that we felt like staying in that place for a while. But we could not stay there long because it was getting dark. Due to the downpour, a few hours ago the road was slippery. The scooter slipped a lot while traveling to Lete, but luckily we didn’t have any accident. As the road was narrow, we got stuck in a traffic jam for a while. But somehow we reached Kalopani Guest House in Lete. 

When the weather is clear, One can see the beautiful view of Mt. Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, and Sarvangadhuri from Lete. Lete Kalapani is not only natural but also religiously beautiful. The source of water in Lete erupts every year from the month of Asar to Mangsir through Kali Barah Than. The water is said to be Kalopani as it transforms the stones to black when it flows through it. The Place is named Kalopani because the water from Kali Barah Than flows through the place.

A few months ago, we came Lete to reach Lomanthang but, due to the pandemic, we weren’t allowed to travel further than Lete.   This trip was going to fulfill our unfulfilled desire to reach Lomanthang. So we all were excited. The feeling that one is moving toward the goal gives incomparable energy to him/her.

Compared to the previous day, the way up from Lete was a bit easier. We followed the gravel road to Marpha. The geography before us was changing as we progressed on the journey. Gradually the number of trees was getting thinner and the wind was howling. This is how the Mustang welcomed us.

Before reaching Marpha, which is about 21 kilometers from Lete, we rested for a while in Tukche.

The village of Marpha, made up of stone, is a very beautiful place. Marpha, known as the capital of apples, is a well-known place among Nepali and foreign tourists. The stone-built Marpha is always waiting for the visitors, preserving wide culture and beauty.  If we ever make a list of places one should visit in their lifetime Marpha will definitely be on the list.

Riding Scooter on a River Photo : Amir Shrestha

Enjoying the beauty of Marpha village for a while, we headed towards Jomsom. The howling wind reminded us of a song Jomsomai Bazarma sung by a band named Nepathya.

Located at an altitude of 2700 m above sea level, Jomsom is the district headquarter of Mustang. This place is spread over 1380 square miles. It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Mustang.

As the journey progresses from Jomsom, desert-like geography becomes visible to us. We used to hear that green forest is the wealth of Nepal. We were amazed to see a place that was so beautiful without a trace of greenery in it. This country Nepal is truly amazing. No matter where you go, it looks just as beautiful and endearing.

The howling wind was making it difficult to ride our scooters.  Sometimes the wind would bring dust from a distance and make our vision blur. The journey was equally beautiful even though it was difficult. 

Kagbeni is a beautiful village situated on the banks of the River Kaligandaki. The name of this place became famous all over the country as a Nepali film made in 2008 was named after the place. Buddhist culture and geographical beauty are the main attractions of Kagbeni

We had to face a difficult road from Kagbeni to Chhusang. There was no option but to cross a small wooden bridge as a big river was flowing in the middle of the road. We moved forward, encouraging each other and helping to move the scooter forward.

In terms of beauty, the mountains had everything except greenery. We could see a breathtaking view of the Landscape, Beautiful Kaligandaki river was flowing through. Clouds were moving slowly in the sky, and in addition, there was the art, culture, and human civilization that has been living there for hundreds of years. Getting there is like giving yourself a great travel experience.

When we woke up, the sun was already up. Previous day’s tiredness made us wake up late. We were reaching Lo Manthang that day. So, there was a different enthusiasm and energy in us

After we filled our scooter,  our journey toward Lomanthang began. The geography we were seeing was different than the day before. The man-made road in the rocky hills gave the impression of a journey to an imaginary world. Hardly anyone can describe how beautiful the snow-capped peaks behind the rocky hills look. It takes about four hours to reach Lomanthang from Chhusang. The 32 km long road passes through beautiful rocky mountains. Even though it was deserted and without any vegetation, those mountains had amazing power to captivate people.

We meet a lot of  new people when we travel. This time, we met an eldery man and gave him a lift on our scooter. After dropping him to his destination, we headed towards Syanmochen. Syangmochen/ Syangboche was where we stopped for our lunch.

After having Nepali lunch ( Dal Bhat )  at Sangmochen at an altitude of about 3800 meters above sea level, we proceeded to Lomanthang. The view on the road was so beautiful we felt like stopping once in a while just to enjoy the beauty. The road seemed never ending, No matter how many hills we crossed, few more were already in front of us.

Landscape Seen on the Way to Lo Manthang Photo : Amir Shrestha

After moving forward from Syangmochen, Ghami and Charang are the places one needs to pass before reaching Lomanthang.  When people come to visit Lomanthang, they stop at these places for a short break. When traveling through the empty hills , small villages would appear once in a while. Not only Mustang but most of the Hilly and Himalayan districts of Nepal have similar patterns of settlements.

After a few minutes of travel from Sangmochen, we see two different ways. One road leads to Dhakamar village and the other to Lomanthang via Charang. We headed towards Charang to reach Lo Manthang

After having tea and playing a game of carrom board in Charang, we headed towards Lomanthang again. After traveling for a while, the dusty road started. The wheels of the scooter were stuck in the dust and was struggling to move forward. Crossing that dusty road, we soon reached Lo Manthang Viewpoint.

The village of Lo Manthang looked very beautiful from the view point. But the wind was so strong that we could not stay there long. When we reached Lo Manthang ViewPoint, we felt like we reached Lomanthang, as it was in front of our eyes.

After descending from the viewpoint and traveling on a dirt road for a while, we finally reached Lomanthang.

After reaching Lomanthang and eating hot noodles, we went for a village walk with Chhewang Dai. It was very beneficial for us to go on a walk with Chhewang Dai. Being a native, he has a knowledge of many things including the history of Lomanthang. We heard many stories of Lomanthang that we had never heard before through him.

The village of Lomanthang was more like an organized city than a village. Similar houses made of stone. The great palaces built by Kings and rulers hundreds of years ago, the stone walls surrounding the village and the art and culture born out of Buddhism, the costumes and the way of life. It is what makes Lo Manthang unique.

Due to their easy access to Tibet, the people of Lomanthang also followed Tibetan art and culture. Seeing the people of Lomanthang ,keeping the art and culture of the forefathers alive and at the same time coping with the modern world, we learned that it is possible to achieve development by keeping the art, culture and history intact. Lomanthang taught us that the true development is to keep one’s own good while adapting the good of others.

During our stay in Lomanthang, we knew some nomadic families were living about an hour away from the village whose main occupation was Cattle rearing. After China sealed its border to Nepal and Tibet they were forced to stay in Nepal. So we decided to meet them and learn more about them.

The nomadic families,  temporarily staying near Lomanthang occupying a small piece of land, change their place 3 times every year. It is mandatory to these families to move to places where there is adequate grass for the cattle. They get up in the morning, leave the animals to graze, and end their day at night guiding them to their stay. We were touched by the difficulty those families were experiencing. But we couldn’t do anything for them, we just prayed that the government reaches them and help them solve their problem as soon as possible.

With the start of the day the bustle in Lomanthang village increases.Some return to the monastery holding prayer garlands in their hand. The  noise of the village children playing echoes in the streets. We can see people filing their Jars in the tap nearby. Flags fluttering in the village monasteries indicate the direction of the wind. Buddhist students attend class in the monasteries. Smoke from the incense moves to the sky, carrying human prayers. Some people were weaving carpets since morning. Some are sitting on the side of the road beating food while others are going to work with their mules. As the sun rises the whole world becomes lively but Lomanthang becomes lively in a completely different way. 

Posing with the Landscape Photo : Amir Shrestha

When we get up and go for a walk in the narrow streets of Lomanthang. You see the history looking at you through the stone walls. You see the ancient culture reflected in the bodies of people walking around. You see working hands busy in their work . You see people with peaceful eyes staring at the beauty of Lomanthang . You see the small steps of the Lowa people moving towards a long, life journey. Sitting on the hill, palaces made hundreds of years ago can be seen watching the whole Lo Manthang village. 

We see a new world unique from the rest of the world. Which lives in its own rhythm, which smiles holding a great history. Which encompasses the vast wealth of religion and culture in its existence. which lives today and will live forever with its originality.

Korala border can be reached in about 2 to 3 hours from Lomanthang. Korala border, located at an altitude of about 4600 meters above sea level, is in the process of being established as a major trading center for Nepal and China. One of the oldest ports in Nepal, it was formerly used for the salt trade between Nepal and Tibet. Now, by 2022, it is planned to be developed as one of the main ports of China and Nepal.Even though the road in China and infrastructure for the trade gateway have been developed, the road in Nepal is still being built. The government aims to bring this trade gateway into use as soon as the work on the Nepal side is completed.

The road from Lomanthang to Korala was in the process of being built, so we had to cross the river and ride the scooter on the muddy surfaces. Cold air blows in the afternoon at Korala which is surrounded by mountains. When you reach the border of the country, the feeling of having something as yours comes to mind. There is more joy in saying ours than saying mine, we knew that when we stepped on the border. Reaching the border we thanked all the ancestors who gained land for us and protected it. If they weren’t there for us, the soil would probably not be ours, and the smile that comes from seeing this land of ours wouldn’t be ours. 

Way to Lo Manthang Photo : Amir Shrestha

We slipped a lot of times on the muddy road and controlled ourselves from falling down.  But in any case, we finally reached Lo Manthang. We think that this trip of ours will encourage those who are confused about whether to take a scooter to go to Lo Manthang or not.  This journey has taught us that if we show courage we can achieve a lot. Our realization of courage is now yours from this video. And another thing, if you don’t show courage or dare to do something new, life denies you experience. So hurry up, show your courage. Why should you be the only one deprived of the experience of life?

Find the Full video of our Lo Manthang Trip here

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