There are three wide held believes associated in naming of the District- Mustang.
1) The word Mustang is derived from the Tibetan Term “Lomanthang” which is used in referring to the green pasture land.
2) Some believe the word Mustang has been derived from the Tibetan word “Smongtang”. In Tibetan dialect, the word “Smong” or “Song” refers to the prayer and “Tang” is used to denote “Place”. Thus, in combination, Smongtang becomes “The place for Prayer”. Mustang is a valley where Buddhist praying can be continually heard. So it was named Smongtang which then changed to Mustang.
3) The word Mustang was derived from the Tibetan word Mun Tan which means fertile plain.
Once a shepherd lost his flocks of sheep and he began searching for them. Finally, he came to a green meadow where he found his sheeps grazing. Ampal– the shepherd found this land so enchanting that he could not depart from the land. So he established a settlement in there with a name- Lomanthang and became a ruler of Lomanthang. It is believed the name Lomanthang got changed into Mustang in the year 1912AD
Mustang is a district lying at an altitude of about 2500m above sea level. It is located in Dhaulagiri Zone of Western Development Region in Northern Nepal bordering Tibet from Nepal. It was opened to foreigners only in 1991.Jomsom is its district Headquarter. Mustang is historically significant for serving as the trade route in between Nepal, Tibet and India. A region of Mustang from South Tibetan Border to Kagbeni is called Upper Mustang.Mustang is known as Himal Paari ko Jillaa in Nepali which means ‘The district beyond mountain’.
The climatic condition of Mustang is totally different from Southern Green Nepal. The land is arid and strong wind blows through time and again. Scarcity of water in turn leads to scarcity of vegetation and ultimately to insufficiency of food. Kali Gandaki is the major river that flows through Mustang. April-June and September- December are best months to explore Mustang.
People and culture:-
Most of the settlements have been established near to the river. Animal husbandry and trade is the major income source of inhabitants of Mustang. Polyandry is still in practice here. The culture of Mustang has been influenced greatly by Ancient Tibetan Culture.
Mustangis extended in an area of 3573 sq.km. where total14981people dwell in 3243 Houses with an Average HouseHold Size of 4.62. Total 8180Male and 6801female lives in Mustang with population density of 4persons per sq.km.
Types of Houses:-
Out of 3243 Houses, 94 Houses are Pakki1563 Houses are semi- Pakki , 1574 Houses are Kachchi while12 are of other types. Similarly, 2259 Houses are used for private purpose, 547 houses are rented, 328 houses are institutional types of houses while 75houses are rent- free and34houses falls under other category.
1720 Houses use electricity,1389 Houses use Kerosene, Biogas is not used at all while117 of them use other fuels while 17 Houses are not stated in types of fuels they use for lightning purpose.
In terms of sanitation, 610 Houses are equipped with Modern Flush System of toilet, 700 Hoses have ordinary toilets while 1902 Houses have no toilets at all and31 Houses are not stated.
955 Houses have economic activities while 2248 Houses are not involved in economic activities. Of the 955 houses who are involved in economic activities, 43houses are engaged in Manufacturing products,252 Houses are busy with Trade, 56 Houses deal with Transport while 527 Houses render their life in services and 77 Houses follow other activities to earn their livelihood.
Buddhism is the main religion here as the data shows: there are3787 Hindu, 11123Buddhists, 7Muslims, 3Kirats, 9Jains, 49 Christians,while3 people follow other religions.
Out of total 13406people who are six years and above of age, 2359 Males and 3191 Females cannot read and write,481 Males and 355 Females can read only, 4467Males and 2471 Females can read and write while29 Males and54 Females are not stated.
According to Survey done in 2008, there are 67 primary schools with 289primary school teachers where1772 students study at primary level. Likewise 541students are taught by56 lower secondary teachers at16lower secondary school.50secondary teachers teach to254 secondary level students at 8secondary schools.
i) Many mountain peaks like Nilgiri, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri can be viewed from Upper Mustang.
ii) Bompo religion- a religion that existed in Tibet prior to Buddhism can be experienced.
iii) There are many fossils found at the either edge of Kali Gandaki River which one can go looking after.
Major Places in Mustang:-
i) Marpha Village:- Marpha lies to the south of Jomsom surrounded by Nilgiri in east and Dhampus and Tukche peaks in west. It is the center for Apple and Apricot farming. The produced apples are processed to prepare wine named Marpha in a distillery. Dhekep Mask dance hosted by Gomba in October –November is the major attraction of Marpha.
ii) Kagbeni Village: – Kagbeni acts as the transit point to Muktinath and Upper Mustang.
iii) Muktinath Temple: – The temple lying at an altitude of 3750m above sea level is a common center of faith for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Baisnabs.Buddhists take the image to be of their god- Avalokitesvara. Muktinath is taken by Hindus to be one Dhaam of the major five Dhaams and one peeth among total 511 Shakti peeths of the world. Muktinath actually means the Master who can deliver salvation. Buddhists name the temple to be Chhuming Gyatsa meaning hundred waters. Muktinath abodes the statues of Lord Vishnu, his female counterpart Laxmi (the goddess of Wealth) and his vehicle Garud. There lies 108 Taps near to the temple where people take a bath in very cold water believing the bath would cleanse away all their sins. This temple is crowded with devotees especially during festivals of Ram Nawami, Janai Purnima, Chaite Dashain and Dashain. There lies a temple of Jwalamai near to the main temple where a fire is seen burning at the top of water. A jeep is available from Jomsom or you can take a long trekking of 8-9 days from Pokhara to reach Muktinath for Muktinath is also the famous trekking route.
iv) Aamaa Gufaa: It is a cave which lies near to the Lo Gekar Gompa . The story holds that a boy was lost in this cave many years ago and a sound of him calling to his Aamaa (mother) can still be heard at midnight. Thus people named it Aamaa Gufaa.
v) RaniPauwa: It is a place lying in Muktinath Area which holds a Pauwa( Resting house) that has been built after the name of Rani(Queen) SubarnaPrava.
Mustang is famous for apple farming and its branded wine- Marpha.
How to reach:-
Starting from Kathmandu, one has to first of all reach Pokhara. A flight to Jomsom can be easily managed from Pokhara. Landing at Jomsom, one has to
prepare himself for a long trekking through Kagbeni, Chele, Geling and Charang before Mustang can finally be reached.