Upper Mustang Tiji Festival Trek 2018

Trip Cost
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  • Duration 19 Days
  • Trip Difficulty Strenuous
  • Style Trekking
  • Accomodation Hotel + Lodges
  • Destination Nepal
  • Food Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner
  • Transportation: Private Vehicle / Aeroplane
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About Trip

TIJI FESTIVAL Trek is a trek in Upper Mustang celebrating the annual Tiji Festival in Lo Manthang. Tiji Festival is a three days event, always held in third Tibetan Month (Month of May).  It is performed in the square in front of the (Mustang King’s Palace) Tashi Gephel Palace, within the walled city of Lo Manthang, Mustang. Tiji Festival Trek allows one to witness, celebrate and take part in this significant festival of people of Mustang.

Tiji festival is one of the most well known and revered festival in Upper Mustang. It is a time of celebration and religious pilgrimage for the people of Mustang. The festival initially began as a religious ceremony, to ward off obstacles and suffering that might befall the country. Later it has also come to symbolize the hope and strength of the people of Mustang. Mustang lies in the rain shadows of the Himalayas and has environmental difficulties, yet its situation along the main salt trade route made it a highly prized location regularly invaded by neighboring states. So, Tiji Festival is a fervent prayer by the King and Queen for peace and stability in Mustang.  You can also read our blog about History of Tiji festival.

Tiji Festival first day:
The morning begins with the assembly of monks and offerings of Vajrakila prayers in Chode Gompa. The afternoon sees a flurry of activity in the square. Amidst the blare of traditional long copper horns or dungchen and the beating of drums and cymbals, an enormous scroll painting or thanka depicting Padmasambhava is unfurled on the south wall of the square. This thangka is said to be more than 400 years old, and hand embroidered with an image of Padmasambhava and two dakinis. After having offered incense ngagpas or tantric practitioners, from Lo-Manthang offer six bowls of grain and torma on a wooden altar. This is followed by the arrival of monks in red pointed hats who take a seat beneath the unfurled thangka. The Khempo or abbot of the Chode Gompa is seated on a slightly higher dias in the centre flanked at the far end by monks blowing the dungchen.

Amidst the chanting of hymns and offering of prayers the masked dances begin. This is eagerly watched by the people gathered in the square on Palace. The masked dancers start the dance from the Mustang royal palace with a private audience for the King in his private room. The Tsowo who can be recognized by the most elaborate headgear, makes offerings and thus starts the ceremony. Together they then gradually leave the palace and move down the square where the public and travelers eagerly waits. Over a period of about 2 hours the Tsacham is performed; a gentle and slow masked dance featuring graceful movements and turns. The Tsowo dances in the centre flanked all around by the other dancers in the form of a Mandala. A total of about 52 different forms of steps are performed. The masked dances represent the preparation or invoking of the gods and the purification and preparation of the soil on which the dances are performed. The Tsowo guides his fellow dancers in to each form by signaling each change by a verbal command. To the untrained eye such subtle changes and steps are seamless.

Tiji Festival second day:
The morning of the second day begins again with offerings of prayers to Vajrakila and an assemble in the monastery. The afternoon starts with the unfurling of another large thangka a near replica of the earlier one.

The Masked dances on the second day are more active and are executed in a more aggressive style. Weapons and animal forms are seen in the dance sequence on this day, representing the various means used to drive away evil. The final act is the slaying of the demon. This is depicted by the piercing of the straw effigy by Tsowo with the religious dagger. This symbolizes the evil demon being slayed by the deity Dorje Shunu. The straw effigy is then thrown into the air.

Tiji Festival Third day:
On the third and final day the morning begins again with offerings of prayers to Vajrakila by the monks in the monastery. In the afternoon, Tsowo offers ritualistic offerings of nectar as an appeal for help from all the gods. Before and after the effigy is cut, there are again dances by monks wearing masks depicting animals. Finally the dances come to an end with the formation of raucous procession led by the masked dancers and followed by the King and members of the royal family, representatives of the village development committees and the local people. In the Mustang King’s Palace the final celebrations are made by offering prayers. There is much rejoicing with the offering of Tsampa to the gods amidst a whirl of white on the rooftop of the palace. Finally there is an exchange of greeting between the King and Khempo and other monks. The peoples of Mustang express their great luck and fortune at being able to witness yet another Tiji Festival and they pray that many more good years follow.

Outline Itinerary

  • Day 01:04 May Arrival at Kathmandu,
  • Day 02:05 May Kathmandu
  • Day 03:06 May Kathmandu-Pokhara.
  • Day 04:07 May Fly to Jomsom & trek to Kagbeni (2800 m) 3 hrs
  • Day 05:08 May Kagbeni to Chele (3100 m) 5-6 hrs
  • Day 06:09 May Chele to Syangmochen (3475 m) 6-7 hrs
  • Day 07:10 May Syanmochen to Ghami (3520 m) 5-6 hrs
  • Day 08:11 May Ghami to Charang (3560 m) 4-5 hrs
  • Day 09:12 May Charang to Lo-Manthang (3840 m) 5-6 hrs
  • Day 10:13 & 14 May Halt days in Lo-Manthang to witness TIJI FESTIVAL.
  • Day 12:15 May Lo-Manthang to Dhakmar (3820 m.) 6-7 hours
  • Day 13:16 May Dhakmar to Geiling (3570 m.) 5-6 hours.
  • Day 14:17 May Geiling to Chhuksang (2980 m.) 5-6 hours.
  • Day 15:18 May Chhuksang to Muktinath (3760 m.) 6-7 hours
  • Day 16:19 May Muktinath to Jomsom (2700 m.) 5-6 hours
  • Day 17:20 May Jomsom / fly to Kathmandu via Pokhara
  • Day 18:21 May Kathmandu
  • Day 19:22 May Departure

Detail Itinerary

  • Day 0104 May Arrival at Kathmandu, Upon arrival at Kathmandu airport. Receive, assist and transfer to the hotel. Balance day leisure. Overnight in the hotel.
  • Day 0205 May KathmanduHalf day sightseeing around UNESCO Bhaktapur / Kathmandu where your guide will escort you on a tour of Buddhist and Hindu temples and shrines reflecting ancient local traditions. There is time to explore the citys many places of interest on your own or take a rest while trekking permits are finalised. Overnight in Kathmandu.
  • Day 0306 May Kathmandu-Pokhara.After breakfast, drive to Pokhara (200 km.) through scenic Pritivi Highway. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight stay in the hotel.
  • Day 0407 May Fly to Jomsom & trek to Kagbeni (2800 m) 3 hrs After an early breakfast transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Jomsom, a super scenic flight of 20 minutes over the mountains with views of 8,000ders such as Annapurna & Dhaulagiri, brings you at Jomsom, the district headquarter of Mustang. This is a large town, headquarter of the Mustang region, it is also a major village on the Kaligandaki area linking the age old Trans-Himalayan Trade route to Tibet. From Jomsom onwards it is very windy in the afternoon, Continue on the gradual path on the Kali Gandaki river bed for about 2 hrs and reaching at Ekley-bhatti village for lunch, 40 minutes of easy walk takes you to Kagbeni, which lies at the bank of two rivers kag khola and the Kali gandaki river. Kagbeni is an interesting windswept villages situated on the main age old Trans-himalayan trade route to Tibet via Upper Mustang area. In Kagbeni a major tributory, Kag Khola, coming from Muktinath, meets kali gandaki river where you stay an over night,
  • Day 0508 May Kagbeni to Chele (3100 m) 5-6 hrs Your journey starts with a special permit check up wards to the road site then walk along the road or follow a river bank depends on the level of water. During the walk we have scenic picturesque place to stop through the sandy and windy trails. This trail follows mostly flat but somewhere up and down hill as well. Firstly we reach Tangbe village with narrow alleys among white washed houses, fields of buckwheat, barley, wheat and apple orchards. From there we trek forward to Chhusang where you take lunch break and walk towards an iron bridge over the Kali gandaki river, after crossing the river head up to the huge red chunk of conglomerate that has fallen from the cliff above, forming a tunnel through which the Kaligandaki follows. We head on to small ridges reach at Chele village.
  • Day 0609 May Chele to Syangmochen (3475 m) 6-7 hrs Today, walk further to Eklo Bhatti. We climb to Taklam La Pass (3,624,m/11,923 ft) through plateaus and narrow stretches with views of Tilicho Peak, Yakawa Kang and Damodar Danda. Further descend a little to the village of Samar to have a lunch in this beautiful village. The trail that goes to the ridge then descending steeply to a stream. After the stream you will ascend to the cow herd from there you find 2 different ways one is direct to Syangmochen via vena or lower way via Chungsi cave. Another 3:30 hrs walk takes us to Syanmochen. On the way, we relax along the surrounding of cool streams and juniper trees. Locals use the dried leaves of junipers as incenses to invite deities and start any auspicious work.
  • Day 0710 May Syanmochen to Ghami (3520 m) 5-6 hrs After breakfast, we trek uphill to the Yamda La (3,850,m /12,667,ft) passing a few tea houses, chortens and local villages which is like Tibetan style of houses with open Varanda. We cross mountain passes, and an avenue of poplar trees and fields of Barley. The climb to Nyi Pass (4,010,m/13,193,ft) would be a little longer or direct via Geling Descend to Ghami but this day you will have the lunch at same hotel where you stay an over night
  • Day 0811 May Ghami to Charang (3560 m) 4-5 hrs Start the trek after breakfast with a pleasant walk. After crossing Ghami Khola, the trail climbs to a plateau and passes beside a very long Mani wall, a sacred stone wall made by the followers Buddhism. From the end of the wall the trail heads east to the uphill then village of Charang with a maze of fields, willow trees and houses separated by stone walls at the top of the Tsarang Chu canyon. There is also a huge white dzong and red Gompa to get to your teahouse for tonight's stop.
  • Day 0912 May Charang to Lo-Manthang (3840 m) 5-6 hrs This day you trek to Lo-Manthang with a magnificent view of Nilgiri, Tilicho, Annapurna I and Bhrikuti peak. The trail first descends to Charang Chu Canyon and then climbs steeply after crossing the river. Further the trail ascends gently to the 3,850 m windy pass of Lo, from where you can see the Lo-Manthang Valley. While descending to Lo-Manthang, views of the walled city appear magnificent with its hills on the Tibetan Border. Stay at lodge/ hotel for the overnight.
  • Day 1013 & 14 May Halt days in Lo-Manthang to witness TIJI FESTIVAL.Halt days in Lo-Manthang to witness TIJI FESTIVAL & Visit to Eastern Valley, Nyphu, Gharphu
  • Day 1215 May Lo-Manthang to Dhakmar (3820 m.) 6-7 hours Your returning from Lo-Manthang, you take a different route than that we came by. Trek to Dhakmar via Ghar with more than 1400 years old Ghar Gompa with Guru Rimpoche as the primary figure. The Gompa is also famous for its rock paintings. According to the legend, anyone who makes one wish at the Ghar Gompa, their wish is fulfilled. Explore the local area then continue to Dhakmar. Likelihood of dusty wind, so suggested to walk in the morning.
  • Day 1316 May Dhakmar to Geiling (3570 m.) 5-6 hours. From Dhakmar village, morning walk leads back on the same route with longest series of Mani Walls, and then crossing a bridge over Ghami Khola to Geilng village for overnight stay.
  • Day 1417 May Geiling to Chhuksang (2980 m.) 5-6 hours. Slowly the trip nears to an end with the morning walk starting with a gentle climb towards Syangbochen village, from here few hours of walk leads to Yamda La after marveling the beautiful scenery from the top, descend to Bhena and Samar villages, and then walking by a stream leading passing Gyakar and Chele villages and finally ending the day walks at Chhuksang village.
  • Day 1518 May Chhuksang to Muktinath (3760 m.) 6-7 hours The trail follows gently ascend and winding path passing through almost desert like places. On the way, you see at a distance some agricultural fields, apple orchard and some human settlements. You can enjoy beautiful deserted landscape, Caves, old Tibetan Style Villages, apple garden, Yaks Herds, Sheep Herds, straight up to the Muktinath visit Monastery believed to be built in 15th century, walk about twenty minute to Muktinath Temple, where you can enjoy a holy bath of 108 Taps, Visit Monastery, Natural flaming and Hindus Temple. The people of Muktinath are close to the life style, culture, religion and idea of Tibetan people.
  • Day 1619 May Muktinath to Jomsom (2700 m.) 5-6 hours Easy day, trail gradually ascends to √Čklai batty at Kali Gandaki River valley, walk another two hours along the wide sandy and windy valley. The way moves between two hills. From there you would reach to Jomsom
  • Day 1720 May Jomsom / fly to Kathmandu via Pokhara After breakfast, check in at the airport to connect flight back to Kathmandu via Pokhara. Balance day free for personal activities. Overnight in the hotel.
  • Day 1821 May KathmanduFree day in Kathmandu for personal activities and shopping. Evening, transfer to the Traditional Nepalese Restaurant for farewell dinner with cultural program.
  • Day 1922 May Departure\final departure transfer to the airport for onward flight.

Trip Map

What's Includes:

  • Pick & Drop to Airport/Hotel by our Private Car/ Van / Bus 
  • 2 nights accomodation with break fast at hotel in kathmandu 
  • 2Nights Hotel in Pokhara 
  • Kathmandu Valley Sightseeing with English speaking Tour guide with car/van/bus 
  • 3 meals a day (Breakfasts, Lunches and Dinners) at the time of Trekking with tea and Coffee 
  • Seasonable Fruit Items if available 
  • Accommodation of Lodges, Guesthouses in Twin Sharing Bases during the trek 
  • Trekking Guides and Porters will be Government Licensed holder with good English and friendly during the trek 
  • Facility of Food, accommodation, salary, insurance, equipment and medicine for all trekking staff. 
  • Group medical supplies (First Aid medical kit will be available) 
  • Guide airfare Pokhara to Jomsom and Jomsom to Pokhara 
  • ACAP permit 
  • All Camping Gears like Tents Axe, Stove, Fuel, Cooking items but you should keep with your private Gear like Down jacket ,Good Sleeping bag ,Etc
  • TIMS (Trekking Information Management System) Card for the Mustang Trek. 
  • All local Transportation from and to Kathmandu by private car/van/bus 

What's Excludes:

  • Any Meals in Kathmandu & Pokhara other than breakfast 
  • Area Permit for Mustang Trek. you need special Trekking Permit for such restricated area trekking. 
  • Airfare domestic / international flights 
  • Nepal entry visa fee, Visa issuance is easy at the arrival of Tribhuwan International Airport, Kathmandu which will require 2 passport size photos. 
  • Airport tax required for the Domestic / International flights 
  • Drinks (Alcoholic, hot and cold drinks), hot water, laundry, phone calls, hot shower, internets. 
  • Personal Trekking Equipment, medical and travel insurance 
  • Entrance fees for Sightseeing/Monument 
  • Entry fee for Upper Mustang Trek US$ 500 per person 
  • Any kind of personal expenses / Helicopter rescue 
  • Any others expenses which are not mentioned on the Price Includes section