The Tiji Festival Upper Mustang

* Witnessing the colorful, ancient Tiji Festival on the extension of Tibetan plateau
* Experiencing typical Tibetan traditions, Bon and Buddhist culture, in forbidden area till the last decade
* Dramatic landscapes, warm & friendly locals, in walled city of Lomanthang as it was for  hundred years ago
* Grand views of the snow capped peaks


Mustang is the old kingdom of Lo. Although the actual capital of the Mustang district is Jomsom, the real Tibetan style district lies north of Kagbeni and is usually referred to as Upper Mustang.

Mustang has an average elevation of 13,000ft and is located to the north of the mountain giants of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. Hence, it is north of the main Himalayan range and vegetation-wise belongs to the highlands of Tibet. This vast high valley is arid and dry, therefore, has a barren, desert like appearance. The place is also characterized by eroded canyons, and colorful stratified rock formations.
One of the most fascinating features of Mustang is literally thousands of cliff dwellings, some of which look absolutely inaccessible. According to the latest theory, they may date to 8-10,000 BC when Mustang was a much greener land.

Naturally, most of the history is now a matter of legend rather than recorded fact. Nonetheless, it seems clear that Lo was once part of Ngari, part of Tibet and a rather loose collection of feudal domains. It was incorporated into the Tibetan Empire under the most famous of the Tibetan kings Songtsengampo. It was an important means of crossing the Himalaya from Tibet to Nepal, and many of the old salt caravans passed through Mustang. By 14C, much of Ngari became part of the Malla Empire, whose capital was Sinja in western Nepal. It had initially become an independent kingdom in its own right under the rule of Ame Pal, the founder king of Lo in 1380. The present royal family can trace its history 25 generations back to Ame Pal, and the city of Lo Manthang, which we will visit, was the centre of their power.

Teeji Festival:

The annual event of Tiji festival is originally of Lo-Manthang, Upper Mustang in Nepal. Tiji commonly pronounced "Teeji" is the abbreviated form of Tempa Chhirim which translates to "Prayer for World peace". Tiji honors the victory of Buddha's incarnation Dhorje Sonam over a demon called Ma Tam Ru Ta who was a man eater, and caused storms and droughts to destroy people's houses and livestock. During this three-day festival the monks of Lo Manthang Chhyode Gumba re-enact the harassment of the Ma Tam Ru Ta, the birth of the demon’s son Dhorje Sonam- and attempt by Dhorje Sonam to return the demon to the BUDDHA realm through dances performances. The monks perform a dance called “Tsa Chham” on the first day of the Tiji and “Nga Chham” on the second. One monk has to stay in seclusion for three months during the winter preparing for the role of Dhorje Sonam. The third day is observed with a ceremony called “Rha chham” where the monk playing the role of Dhorje Sonam throws the effigy and Tsamppa representation of Ma Tam Ru Ta. It is believed that the village is purified of evil spirits at this time.

The Tiji festival falls from the 27th to 29th of the third month of Tibetan calendar (April and May every year). It is organized by Chhyode Gumba which is a monastery of Sakyapa sect located in Lo Manthang, Upper Mustang. The abbot of the monastery is Khempo Tashi Tijin Rinpochhe and there is around 35 others from Lomanthang, Nenyol and Chhoser in the monastery. Villagers from all over “Lho Tshu Dhyun” (the ancient kingdom of Lo) come to watch the dance and participate in the accompanying festivities. They also contribute firewood and necessary materials to undertake the festival.

Outline Itinerary:
Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu.
Day 02: In Kathmandu with half day sightseeing tour.
Day 03: Fly to Pokhara and transfer to Hotel.
Day 04: Fly to Jomsom (2,713m) and begin Trek to Kagbeni (2,810 m) 3-4 hrs walks.
Day 05: Trek to Chussang.(2,920m) approx. 6 hrs walk.
Day 06: Trek to Samar. (3,290m) approx. 6-7 hrs walk.
Day 07: Trek to Ghiling.(3,600m) approx. 6-7 hrs walk.
Day 08: Trek to Tsarang. (3,520m) approx. 6-7 hrs walk.
Day 09: Trek to Lo Manthang. (3,780m) the capital of Upper Mustang approx. 4-5 hrs walk.
Day 10-11: Rest day to observe the Tiji Festival.
Day 12: Trek to Ghami. (3,440m) approx 6-7 hrs.
Day 13: Trek to Samar. 4-5 hrs.
Day 14: Trek to Yak Kharka. (3,845m) 5-6 hrs.
Day 15: Trek to Muktinath. (3,710m) approx. 4 hrs walks.
DAY 16: Trek to Jomosom. 3-4 hrs.
DAY 17: Fly from Jomsom to Kathmandu via Pokhara.
DAY 18: In Kathmandu.
DAY 19:

Transfer to Airport for International Departure.

DAY 01:


  On arrival at Kathmandu Tribhuwan International Airport you will be received by our staff and transfer to respective Hotels, our guide will give you a brief orientation of the Hotel, Kathmandu, Trekking, do's and don't and other related information that you might require while in Nepal.
DAY 02:


  After your first night in Kathmandu, you will be well informed on arrival about the time for your half day guided sightseeing tour in Kathmandu at places of interest.
DAY 03:


  As per the flight schedule, transfer to the domestic airport for the flight to Pokhara.
Half hour scenic flight brings to the stunning Pokhara Valley, on arrival at Pokhara transfer to the Hotel. Pokhara is the second largest township in Nepal and enjoys a beautiful setting beside the large lake of Phewa, Rupa and Begnas. From here are magnificent views of Mt. Machhapuchare the famous fishtail peak. With time in the late afternoon or evening to have a look around the town which is situated on the mid-west Nepal. Here it is quite hot and tropical in character.
DAY 04:

FLY TO JOMSOM (2,713m) and begin Trek to Kagbeni (2,810 m) 3-4 hrs walks.

  From Jomsom, the trail leads on the Kali-Gandaki plains in the rainy season the road diverts to the right bank of the river plain, the walk is pleasant with few ups and down most of the way to the place of Ekali Bhatti (lonely inn) where there is three or four tea-houses at present, it used to be one tea-house when its got its name Ekali -Bhatti. From here the path splits into two ways the higher up leads to Muktinath well the other one leads you to upper Mustang and Tibet via Kagbeni. Our trail leads past Eklai-bhatti towards North West, the walking gets much easier on the gradual winding route as the road widens as you walk further on the river bed towards the windswept village of Kagbeni for the overnight.
DAY 05:

TREK TO CHUSSANG. (2,920m) approx. 6 hrs walks.

  After leaving the Kagbeni village, the walk is uphill for half an hour leaving the Kali-Gandaki River behind for a while. The path leads to harsh barren countryside all the way with occasional stop, passing through few small villages as the walk progress coming to the village Tangbe, another hour of good walk brings you to the overnight stop at Chusang line up with few trees amidst the red earth surrounding. Chusang lies at the confluence of the Narsang stream and the Kali Gandaki River.
DAY 06:

TREK TO SAMAR. (3,290m) approx. 6-7 hrs walks.

  Todays walk leads first to Chele village after crossing the stream through the broken canyons and ruin castle walls on the surrounding cliffs, across the river from Chusang are some spectacular red eroded cliffs above the mouths of inaccessible caves. After crossing the small bridge an uphill walk for 45 minutes brings you to Chele village.
From Chele village the walk gets steeper for an hour upto the ridge at 3,130m, from here you can get a good view of Gyagar across a huge canyon. The trek continues with a slow climb on the windswept terrain till the pass is reached at 3,540m. From here a gradual descent leads you to Samar for the overnight stop.
DAY 07:

TREK TO GHILING.(3,600m) approx. 6-7 hrs walk.

  The walk today leads to a short climb above Samar village to a ridge, with a downhill leading to a large gorge past a chorten painted red, black, yellow and white-all the colours are made from local rocks. The journey continues into another valley with juniper trees, after crossing the stream the walk follows uphill path to a ridge at 3,800m, the trail climbs over to another pass, from here the route descends to Shyangmochen, a small settlement with few tea shops at 3,710m. After a good break here, the trek continues to a gentle climb to a pass at 3,770m entering towards a huge valley, from here taking the right downhill path towards our overnight stop at Geling with its large fields of barley on the outskirt of the village.
DAY 08:

TREK TSARANG (3,520m) approx. 6-7 hrs walk.

  From Geling, the route climbs gradually through the fields up the centre of the valley, passing below the Tama Gung settlements, the walk continues a long climb across the head of the valley to the Nyi La pass 3,950m, the highest point of this trek. The pass itself happens to be the southern boundary of Lo. From here a gradual descend for half hour brings to junction; the right path leads direct to Tsarang while the left leads to Ghami village one of the main major of Lo region. Our route drops below the blue, grey and red cliffs across the valley to a steel bridge across the Tangmarchu River, the path climbs past to the long and magnificent stretch of Mani wall, probably the longest one in Nepal.
From here the final climb of the day brings to a 3,600m pass, after the last pass a gentle descent leads to the overnight halt at Charang, an interesting village with a maze of fields, willow trees and a huge five storey white Dzong and a red gompa perched on the edge of the Kali Gandaki gorge. Tsarang has its own electricity system.
DAY 09:

Trek to LO MANTHANG (3,780m) the capital of Mustang approx. 4-5 hrs walk.

  Today’s walk leads to our destination at Lo Manthang, the trek begins with a short descend crossing the Charangchu River with a steep climb on a ridge, then passing through the Tholung valley. The trail divert north with gentle climb as the valley ascends to a large chorten, which marks the boundary between Tsarang and Lo, the climb follows to the stream, coming to a great wide windswept landscape, finally reaching the ridge at 3,850m a grand view of the walled large village of Lo Mananthang can be seen from this top. A short descent brings you to the stream that outlines the walled village, form here a short climb on the plateau leads you to the southern wall of Lo Manthang village.
The only entrance to the village is from the northeast corner, so one has to circumbulate the wall to the main entrance gate sometimes.
DAY 10-11:

Rest day to observe the TIJI FESTIVAL of LO MANTHANG.

  This large village contains about 150 houses plus number of resident for the lamas, the houses are closely packed, and the palace and monasteries are in the bottom portion in this vertical part of the L shaped houses. The school, health post, police post and several important chorten are located outside the walls to the north of the gate and east of the monastic part of the city. Despite the apparent squalor of Lo Manthang, the village is prosperous and maintains a strong sense of community. Though the people call themselves Lobas, people from Lo, they are very much Tibetan and practice a practical culture economy. Before strong trade with Tibet was disrupted, all of the salt and wool trade on the Kali Gandaki passed through Lo Manthang, and this brought a substantial amount of money to this great village town. The Mustang raja's palace stands an imposing 4 storey building in the centre of the city. It is the home of the present raja, Jigme Parbal Bista, and the rani (queen), who is from the noble family of Lhasa.
We have reserved two days to observe this ancient colourful Tiji festival one of the rare occasion to be seen in the far corners of Himalaya.
DAY 12: Trek to GHAMI 3,440m approx. 6-7 hrs.
  Today’s walks is more of a descend with few short climb all the way to Ghami, once outside the walled Lo Manthang village-town the path leads to a steady climb to the pass offering the last glimpse of Lo Manthang, the walk from here on is more or less gradual on the downhill slopes most of the way to Ghami village. Ghami is another important village of this region.
DAY 13:

Trek to SAMAR. 4-5 hrs.

  The trek today follows the straight route to the Nyi La, with a climb to the ridge and then contouring upwards and encountering the road from Tsarang. From the top of the ridge a steep descend awaits you all the way to Geling Valley. The trail continues bypassing Geling to a lone teahouse and then a gentle downhill to a small settlement of Tama Gung. A steep switchbacks trail leads to a stream; the trail climbs to a large painted chorten. From here it is straightforward route to the overnight camp at Samar.
DAY 14:
Trek to YAK KHARKA. Approx. 3,845m. 5-6 hrs.
  Our route from Samar diverts to the less known area by the westerners, our first portion of the walk leads downhill on the same trail for 2-3 hours through Chele village and then reaching to the Mustang Khola, from here our walk leads uphill for another two hours towards the remote village of Chhomang at 2,940m. Passing through this village our walk climbs further up to the ridge, on leaving the village way down below the walk is more less on the gradual uphill trail, then coming to our overnight camp near the pass at Yak Kharka, depending upon the time of our arrival and the availability of clean water we camp before the pass on the nice grassy field.
DAY 15:

Trek to MUKTINATH. (3,710m) approx. 4 hrs.

  After being in the less frequented upper part of Mustang, you'll be seeing more of fellow trekkers coming from the other region of northern Annapurna via Thorang-la and from Kagbeni onwards, the walk from the camp leads to a slow climb for less than an hour towards the pass at 3,970m, after the pass the trek is on the downhill slope most of the way to Muktinath on much wider trail overlooking superb views of the Mt. Nilgiri and Tukuche  peak in the far eastern and the plain of Kali Gandaki Valley, coming closer to Muktinath after 2-3 hours of walk, crossing the stream in the gorge then its uphill walk for an hour or so, till we reach the village of Dzong, from here the path is almost gradual all the way to Muktinath, and the walking gets much easier to the holy place of Muktinath for the overnight camp with ample time to visit the holy premises of Muktinath and its 108 ancient water spouts, believed to be the very source of the Kali-Gandaki River.
DAY 16:

Trek to JOMSOM 3-4 hrs.

  From Muktinath onwards will be one of the most pleasant walk as you will loose altitude day by day. The trek follows an easy descends towards the Kaligandaki River Valley passing through the old village of Jharkot after an hour or more of this good walk. From here onwards can get very windy in the afternoon time, the walk follows the gentle trail for another two hours till the large town village of Jomsom is reached for the overnight stop. Jomsom, a large village town is the headquarter of the Mustang region with a small airstrip just above by the river Kaligandaki. Here you will have ample time to celebrate with the local apple products like cider, brandy and juice this area from Kagbeni to Larjung is famous for its delicious apple and its product.
DAY 17:


  The flight time to Pokhara, are schedule for morning normally because of the wind in the afternoon, sometime the flight time can be delayed due to bad weather and other reason beyond our command. Depending upon the flight time make way to the terminal for security check, this scenic flight from Jomsom takes about 25 minutes to Pokhara, a panoramic view of the snow capped peaks can be seen from the plane.From Pokhara half hour flight will bring you to Kathmandu, arriving at Kathmandu domestic terminal, our staff will receive and transfer you back to the Hotel.
DAY 18:

In Kathmandu.

  A free day in Kathmandu, please inform our staff if you would like to go on another short tour in and around Kathmandu Valley.
DAY 19:

Transfer to Airport for the International departure.

  Today as per your international flight time, keep your confirmed air ticket, and your passport handy. Our HimEX staffs transfer you to the airport for your final departure from this amazing country, Nepal.
Price includes following services:
 1.  Accommodation sharing twin at Hotel in Kathmandu for 4 nights & Hotel in Pokhara for 1 night on Bed & Breakfast basis.
 2.  Airport transfers in Kathmandu & Pokhara.
 3.  Half day guided sightseeing tour of Kathmandu with applicable entrance fees.
 4.  Internal flight Pokhara / Kathmandu with applicable airport taxes.
 5.  Trekking arrangement backed by Sherpa Guide and porter/s using local homes on full board basis.
 6.  Applicable Special Trekking Permit & Conservation Fees.
 7.  Transportation Kathmandu / Beshisahar & Trek / Pokhara by private Non AC Vehicle.
 8.  Insurance for Nepalese crew.
Our price does not include followings:
 1.  International flights to / from Kathmandu.
 2.  Nepal entry visa fees.
 3.  Lunch and dinner while in Kathmandu & Pokhara Hotel.
 4.  Travel, Medical and Personal insurance.
 5.  Rescue evacuation in case of emergency.
 6.  Personal clothing and personal trekking gear including sleeping bag & down jacket.
 7.  Expenses of personal nature, i.e. tipping, laundry, bottled drinks, bar bills etc.
 8.  Any expense for early returning member due sickness, injury or any other reason. No refund will be entertained for any unused service.
 9.  Extra expense occurred due to unexpected circumstances like cancellation of internal flights, floods, strike etc.

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Trip Facts
  • Trip Name : The Tiji Festival Upper Mustang
  • Trip Duration : 19 Days
  • Trip Grade : Moderate/Adventurous
  • Trip Date :
  • Activity : Trek and Walks
  • Highest Altitude : 3845 m
  • Month : May-Jun