Written by jorgejuan on 12 Mar, 2006
I was enjoying the popular trekking of the Annapurnas. When I arrived in Kagbeni I saw a caravan of gurungs with their yaks carrying rice, and I made friends with them. They told me that they were heading to the walled city of Mustang. I borrowed…Read More
I was enjoying the popular trekking of the Annapurnas. When I arrived in Kagbeni I saw a caravan of gurungs with their yaks carrying rice, and I made friends with them. They told me that they were heading to the walled city of Mustang. I borrowed a Tibetan cap from one of the gurungs and camouflaged myself into the group, passing the control without being noticed. The soldiers at the border where drinking chang, playing to a kind of billiard game with wooden buttons, and did not pay much attention to the caravan.
We crossed the Kali Gandaki gorge, powerful rivers, and in the first village (which in my diary I wrote as Chusang) I decided to continue alone. The third day, after climbing a pass, I turned my head to the front and my God, what emotion! That was really unbelievable! Never in my life will I forget what I felt upon that vision. Lo Mustang appeared as if by magic on the horizon. It looked like a lovely walled city, surrounded by the Himalaya Mountains. I continued my trekking and after two more hours I traversed the main gate and entered the medieval city, and continued my way to the border with Tibet through the villages of Nipu, Guru, and Nechung.
After crossing the Kore Pass through the border number 23, I noticed a Chinese military base in the distance but I went around to avoid it because I had no Chinese visa. After a few more hours I saw some houses. I had arrived to Legse, in Tibet. It was already dark. I was so tired and feeling pain in my hips that I knocked at the first house that I saw and asked for water in Chinese: "Tsuei ching, gewo Tsuei" (Water please, give me water), and fell down to the floor. There was a family. The husband, afraid of my presence, disappeared and came back half an hour later with two Chinese soldiers with rifles. I was sleeping. They lighted me with their lanterns and after a short interrogation allowed me to spend the night with the family, but next day they sent me back to Mustang through the border number 23.Near Lo Mustang, I saw holes in the mountains and was told that monks lived there in meditation until their death. Every day a small novice took some food for them thorough a hole in the hole where they were enclosed, and when after 3 days the same food was still there, is was a sign that the monk had died. Then they sealed the hole and opened a new one for another candidate to follow that way of life (or death). The vision of those holes was horrible and provoked in me a reaction of rebelliousness.The first night I slept in a kind of caravanserai in Samar where they gave me food, momos, cheese of yak, and tsang; a very dense tea, like soup, that they prepare in a kind of quiver called domo. The next day I crossed Guili and Gami, and on the second night I found a Buddhist Tibetan monastery near the beautiful Charan where I became friends with the young monks of the Gelugpa sect when I gave them a picture of the XIV Dalai Lama. Chortens were a kind of mark for the travellers which helped me. They show the way to the gonpas, or monasteries. I returned to Kagbeni without consequences and could finish my trekking around the Annapurnas through the Thorung Pass. I was robbed by the Tibetans of part of the 20 kilos of Chinese canned food and delicious biscuits that the Chinese army gave me. In the caravanserai of Lo Mustang I paid twice more than the locals for the momos, the tea, the tsampa, and the bed. But anyway, it was peanuts. I did not complain. I was conscious of the cheating but I did not argue and observed from their behaviour in order to learn more about the human nature.
Written by Mutt on 12 Mar, 2006
While wandering along the valley you should keep an eye out for the curious black spiral stones known as Saliagrama that can occasional be found scattered amongst the far less interesting stones on the bed of Gandaki River.According to many Hindus, these curious stones are…Read More
While wandering along the valley you should keep an eye out for the curious black spiral stones known as Saliagrama that can occasional be found scattered amongst the far less interesting stones on the bed of Gandaki River.According to many Hindus, these curious stones are representative of Lord Vishnu in his first earthly incarnation. Vishnu came to Earth in the form of a fish known as Matsya, representing the formation of protoplasm and invertebrates. In this avatar he swam into the hands of king Manu, who was washing in the river, and warned him of the great flood that was coming to wipe out all life. Manu built a boat and took on board the "seeds of life" which Matsya then towed to the safety of a mountaintop.The stones, found only in this area, are very holy to believers and are not treated like icons but are in fact worshipped as deities in their own rite, as they are self-manifest and not man-made. Because of this, the rules for keeping them are very strict. They must be worshipped daily, never placed on the floor, and the keeper must wash, adhere to a strict Vaishnvaite diet, and abstain from bad practice before using the stone in ritual. Others claim that the stones are the lingam symbol of Shiva, the goddess Durga in her Binde Basini Bhawati avatar, or most controversially that they are the 180 year old fossilised remains of Jurassic era molluscs known as amenities. According to this, somewhat far-fetched, theory this area was at the bottom of the Tethup Sea until 55 million years ago when the Indian continental plate collided with the Asian continental plate and the Himalayan mountain range was born.Although you will see them for sale on many souvenir stalls, you should not purchase one, not only because of the complex etiquette involved in keeping a deity in your home but for the more practical fact that the government has banned their export in order to preserve the fossil record. Close