Manang a cold desert lying in the rainshadow in the foothills of the Himalayas. The endless mountain peaks almost touching it to the grey skies. Now find the other side of the landscape — one verdant with lakes and waterfalls; rivers and streams gurgling. The constant in all of these landscapes is the alpenglow. That blushes the entire area just before sunrise and just as the sun goes down.
It is one of Nepal’s most enchanting locations. A part of the Gandaki province in central Nepal and is also a member of the Annapurna Circuit Trek. It is also consider one of the world’s best long-distance treks. The trekking circuit involves Lamjung, Manang, Mustang, Myagdi, and Kaski.
Those familiar here and its terrain agree that traversing through Manang is not a cakewalk. The roads are narrow, with deep gorges cutting high cliffs. But those who take on the challenge also know it’s worth taking every move. To meet Chame (district headquarters) from Besisahar was a death-defying ride on a jeep. The journey forward was arduous too.
Four years ago, a road connecting upper Manang villages like Khangsar and Manang village came into service, shortening journey time by days. On fair-weather days, the 65 km long portion of Besisahar-Chame road can be cover in around six hours. Earlier, going to Chame from Besisahar will take three to four days.
According to Binod Gurung, chairman of the Manang Tourism Entrepreneurs Committee, road connectivity in the region has opened the mountain district to travelers, experienced and novices. September to November and March to May are, he states, the favourable seasons to visit here.
The district is unofficially broke up into Upper Manang and Lower Manang. Local culture, vocabulary, lifestyle, and clothes in Upper Manang are influence by those on the Tibetan plateau. While Lower Manang locals are similar to their Lamjung neighbors in habit. The first settlement you will encounter as you enter the Manang district is Talgaun. Which sits 1,700 meters above sea level.
Just one visit is definitely not enough to experience its entirety. Even on your first visit there are some places to see and stuff to do that will give you a pretty good idea of what the mountainous district is all about.
Sometime during the monsoon season a horses festival known as Yartung is hold in the upper regions of the district. After the harvest of monsoon crops signalling the start of the cold season the festival is celebrate. The festival’s name comes from the Tibetan language in which ‘Yar’ means monsoon and ‘Tung’ means horse. This festival is observe as the local youth ride unsaddled horses for five days. The horse riders travel to the Manang gompa on the last day of the festival to seek blessings from the Lama (Religious Leader).
This festival also signals the movement of people from the upper Manang to the lowlands to avoid the harsh winter.
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