Choser and Other Monasteries
Monasteries and caves are defining features of any travel through Upper Mustang. While two the most famous monasteries in Upper Mustang, Thubchen and Jampa (see Lo Manthang), are in Lo Manthang, but many others are scattered in villages in the surrounding area. Some are even located inside caves.
Choser is an area of Upper Mustang just north of Lo Manthang known for its historical and religious sites. Garphu and Nymphu gompas are located in Choser, as well as a well-maintained ancient cave dwelling and villages where houses are partially built in caves. One 1,000 NRS (approx. US $10) ticket buys entrance to four of those religious sites and the caves scattered throughout the Choser area, and makes for an excellent day trip by jeep, trekking, or the best option – on horseback. Another famous sight in Upper Mustang is Luri Gompa, located near the village of Ghara and Yara about a day’s walk from Lo Manthang. Luri is an ancient cave monastery filled with artifacts, Buddhist frescos, and chortens – some dating back from the 14th century. Luri is well worth a visit: set high in the cliffs, visitors must scramble up a dirt trail, then climb up a wooden ladder to access the lower caves. Once inside guests are treated to beautiful white stupas and painted walls, as well as a stunning lookout point from which to take in the scenery below. A nunnery is located next to Luri Gompa, although it is not always open to visitors. Close to Luri Gompa are also the caves of Tashi Kabum – only recently shown to foreign tourists. Many of the caves are inaccessible now because of erosion, but the few that are require a daring climb up the steep Cliffside to enter. Inside the cave there are scrolls, artifacts, and an ancient stupa as well as wall frescos. Chungsi cave, between the villages of Syamboche and Samar but on a trail just east of the road, is another spectacular cave and religious site. Carved into the mountainside, visitors must ascend a steep and twisted set of stairs to enter. The cave is decorated with various chortens, stupas, Buddhist iconography and objects, and kataas (religious scarves). Chungsi cave is a great detour en route up to or back from Lo Manthang.
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