Author Topic: Upper Mustang-A Medieval Walled City  (Read 947 times)

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Offline haku Black

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Upper Mustang-A Medieval Walled City
« on: July 26, 2007, 09:29:02 AM »


Welcome to the only living walled city of Nepal. Built in 1380AD by the first king of Lo, Ame Pal, the walled city still stands as a testimony to Lo-Manthangs prosperity and rich cultural heritage. The wall, which is 2472 feet long and 26 feet high, has series of 14 towers along its periphery. These towers rise 40 feet high and are 6 feet wide at its base and 3 feet wide at the top. During the region of the Mustangi Rajas, the towers were guarded by armed guards to defend the town from bandits and enemies.
The only entrance to the town is through a huge wooden gate located at the east of the township. In early days, this gate used to be closed before dusk and opened at dawn. Until recently, the town inhabitants followed this rule dutifully, but the rule is no more in practice. Nonetheless, as in the past, except for the Raja(king), Rani (queen) and the Khempo (chief priest) everyone dismount their horses while passing through the town gate. This custom is observed to pay respect to Avalokiteshwara (God of compassion), Mahne (prayer wheel) and Jhong Lha(Deity of the fort) that are located in front of and the Khempo considered as equals to the deities are not required to dismount their horses while entering the gate.

The city is divided into four traditional wards (Si-Shu) namely ?Ghun-thang?,  ?Domaling?, ?Potaling? and ?Jhythang?. These names refer to as the shrines of deities from the respective wards. ?Ghun-thang? is the shrine of ?Mahakala or ?Gompo?, ?Domaling? the shrine of ?Tara? or ?Doma?, ?Potaling? the shrine of ?Dipangar Buddha? or ?Hyepo Mahe? and ?jhythang? the shrine of ?Jhampa or Maitria?, the future Buddha. These wards take turn to perform various religious and social tasks of the town.

 People of Lo-Manthang

About 1100 Lobas People of Lo lived in the 180 mud houses of the walled city and surprisingly they observe a form of caste hierarchy. This may be the reason why it is mainly the Kudak (Bista-the nobility and royalty of Lo) and the Phalwa (Gurung) who live within the walled city. Ghara (black smith), Shemba (butcher) and Emeta (musician) mostly live in the settlement beside the Lo-Manthang river that flows to the east of the city. The Raja and Rani or Mustang live in ?Monkhar?- the four storied white-washed palace located in the middle of the town. The palace was believed to be built by the first King of Mustang, Ame Pal, in the early 14th century. The present Raja is his twenty-second descendent.
Livestock husbandry combined with agriculture is still the mainstay of the local economy. Seasonal migration for trade to the southern parts of Nepal and North India and bate trade with neighboring Tibet supplements household income. With the advent of tourism in Lo in 1992, few local people have also started taking up tourism as a new economic profession.

To prevent fragmentation of family property, some Lobas still practice Polyandry.  A woman is married to all the brothers of a family.

Culture and Religion

Lo-Manthang?s culture is deep rooted in the religious sentiments of its people. The township abound with many chhortens, mahne-walls and monastries. Prayer flags flutter above all the houses-conveying mantras to all corners of the world. The Lobas are exclusively Buddhists and confirm to Sakya-pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Bon prevailed before Buddhism, which was later replaced by Ningma Pa Sect (Dhakar-Kayu subsect) and subsequently by Sakya Pa Sect (Sakyapa Ngorpa subsects) of Buddhism.
Of the three Gompas in Lo-Manthang , the Jhampa Gompa is the oldest. It was built in 1387 AD during the reign of the famous King Anguin sangbo and is believed to be a replica of Ghangtse Jhampa Gompa of Tibet, which still exists in Ghangtse, near Khasa.

The three storied Jhampa Gompa, is an exemplary piece of art. It amply exhibits Lo-Manthangs great architectural depth of the past. The uniqueness of this gompa lies in gold painted tantric mandalas entirely covering the interiors of the wall of the first and second floors. The main prayer hall is painted with double register of mandalas interspersed with smaller mandalas. The sheer size of the gompa itself is an attraction. One will be surprised to know that the walls of the gompa are 5ft 4inches thick, 55 ft high,150ft long and 80ft wide.
Thupchen is the second oldest gompa of the town. It was built in the early 15th century by Tashi Gon, the third Raja of Mustang. Despite being smaller than Jhamba, Thupchen is an equally rich archetype of Tibetan art. The main hall ?Dukhang? has beautiful ceiling and wall paintings painted of natural color and gold and silver paints. The wall painting bears various images of Buddha and other deities in different mudras. The wooden beams in Dukhang carry Buddhist mantra engraved in it and the ceiling has beautifully placed rafters. It its heyday, Thupchen was the major center of religious activity in Lo-Manthang.

Tenchi is the most popular festival of Lo Tsho Dyun, and is celebrated over three days to mark the killing of a demon by Dorje Sonnu, the demon?s son. Tenchi is a derivative of the Tibetan word ?Tempa Chirim?, meaning a prayer for world peace. The festival is celebrated on the fifth month of the Tibetan calender, which unusually come to place in May. Two huge Thankas are displayed during the occasion. Numerous other festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Some important ones are Mahne Dance (which marks the killings of the demon through a dance drama), Sakaluka (seed sowing ceremony for good harvest), Duk Chu (Monk?s dance and prayer for a prosperous New Year),Chug Emma (household prayers fro prosperous new year),  Phakne (group of same age visit different holy places), Loh Sar (New Year) and so forth.
A Monastic School - Tse Chhen Shedrubling Tukling Mon Gon Lobdra - is attached to the Chhoede Gompa. This is the only Sakya-pa monastic school of Upper Mustang where young monks (Dhawa) are taught on the teaching of Buddha. The people of Lo have for long relied on traditional herbal medicines to cure ailments and the faith still holds true. With some donor support, an Amchi School now runs in Lo under the local Amchi family (Tibetan herbal Doctor).
« Last Edit: October 25, 2007, 05:17:11 AM by शेर्पा »

Offline शेर्पा

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Re: Upper Mustang-A Medieval Walled City
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2007, 04:15:12 AM »
upper mustang ta malai pani jaane man thiyo
nice info soi thanks

Offline ангел

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Re: Upper Mustang-A Medieval Walled City
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2008, 10:57:55 PM »
Nice INfo.soi
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