History of Mustang
The former kingdom of Lo is linked by religion, culture and history to Tibet, but is politically part of Nepal. Now Tibetan culture is in danger of disappearing, it stands alone as one of the last truly Tibetan cultures existing today. Until 1991 no outsiders were allowed to enter Mustang.
At the beginning of the eighth Century Lo and the nearby Dolpho became part of the Tibetan Empire, which emerged from the conquests of the Yarlung Dynasty in Central Asia. Later, during the 10th Century, both territories were incorporated into the Kingdom of Purang in the Western part of Tibet. Around the middle of the 10th Century, the newly formed Kingdom of Gungthang in the north of Tibet subdued Lo. In the following centuries, a new kingdom emerged in the West under the name of Jumia. Finally, in the 14th Century, Jumia attacked the neighbor Kingdom of Gungthang and Lo came temporarily under the control of the Kingdom of Jumia.
Around 1400 Amepa emerged to become the founder and first King of the Lo Empire. Legend has it that Amepa’s bloodline, as direct descendent of the Gungthan Empire, reaches out even to the Yarlung Dynasty at the very beginnings of the Tibetan Empire. What followed was not only a religious rebound, but also an increase of all commercial activities around the north – south route. In the centuries to come, Lo evolved to be a more or less stable Kingdom, although there were continuous feuds and troubles with the neighbor Kingdoms of Ladakah and Jumia. Lo gained stability also due to the tribute they had to pay to the respective rulers. After the Gorkha Kings conquered the valley of Kathmandu in the 18th Century, the Kingdom of Lo was annexed as well and became part of what would be Nepal.
In 1950, the newly founded People’s Republic of China occupied Tibet. This had considerable consequences in the Kingdom of Mustang. The continuous activities of the Tibetan resistance who operated from the Kingdom led to political instability. The situation culminated in the closing of all borders. The trade routes from Tibet to India were intercepted. The Kingdom of Mustang became more and more isolated.
Today, Mustang is integrated into the political landscape of Nepal, constituting the northern part of the District of Dhaulagiri. De facto, the Monarchy and the Kingdom of Lo survived until the summer of 2008. The actual government of Nepal has ended the tradition of the Rajas (Kings). Subsequently, the Kingdom of Mustang ended as well. The former King Jigme Palbar Bista regency goes back 25 generations. He is highly respected by the people of Mustang, regardless of the derecognizing of his Raja title.
During the 1960s, after the Dalai Lama had fled to India and Chinese armies established control over the Tibet, Mustang was a centre for guerrilla operations against the Chinese. The soldiers were the Khampas, Tibet’s most fearsome warriors, who were backed by the CIA (Some Khampas were secretly trained in the USA).At the height of the fighting there were at least 6000khampas in Mustang and neighboring border areas. The CI A’ support ended in the ear’s 1970s when the USA under Kissinger and Nixon, initiated new and Better relations with the Chines. The government of Nepal was pressed to take action against the guerrillas and, making use of internal divisions within the Khampa leadership, a bit of treachery and the Dalai Lama’s taped advice for his citizens to lay down their arms, it managed to disband the resistance without committing to action the 10,000 Nepali troops that had been sent to the area.
Though Mustang was closed, the Government allowed a few researchers into the area. Toni Hagen included Dustang in his survey of the entire kingdom of Nepal, and the Italian scholar Giuseppe Tucci visited in the autumn of 1952. Professor David Snellgrove traveled to the region in 1956 but did not visit Lo- Manthang. Long time Nepal resident BarBara Adams traveled to Mustang during the autumn of 1963. The most complete description of the area is Mustang the Forbidden Kingdom, written by Michel peissel , who spent several months in the area in the spring of 1964. The first legal trekkers were allowed into Mustang in March 1992 upon payment of a high fee for a special trekking permit.