Ghar Gompa to Lo Montang

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Ghar Gompa First we see a multitude of prayer flags, then the tops of a long row of red stupas and then the old gompa beyond. The late afternoon sun illuminates the colours; the beauty of the stupas, prayer flags and sky is intoxicating. I walk once round the gompa and then to our camping ground just beyond. The crew set up the ‘hotel’ - a kitchen and bedroom in some old stone outhouses. We’ve pitch tents on some rough ground nearby.

The gompa is a large singular building reached by steps from a courtyard surrounded by the monk’s living quarters. It appears locked in the late afternoon but the following morning we get up early for the morning puja. There’s only one monk but he has a good voice and also uses the drum, bells and cymbals. There’s a large statue of Padmasambhava and protector wallpaintings including Vajrapani. Local legend says that Padmasambhava didn’t make his famous journey to Samye until he’d left instructions to build a monastery here. Exploring the roof and upper rooms of the gompa we find a kitchen and some trekkers looking the worse for wear, I think they’ve travelled too fast to make up for lost time and have had some problems with the altitude.

The awnings covering the entrance are faded and torn but there’s beauty and power in the age and isolation of the place. In the courtyard someone is saddling up a horse while the monk looks on. The monk says that he prefers Kathmandu and football to life in Mustang. We have an excellent breakfast of porridge and cashew nuts. Before we leave a white horse gallops up from nowhere and pauses in front of the stupas. The skies are wonderful.


Lo Montang 15 August 2013. We leave late, almost midday, and, as appears to be a daily ritual, start by dropping down to a stream where we cross over a lovely old wooden bridge, cantilevered out from both banks like the ones we saw in Ladakh near Dha Hanu in the Indus valley. A long climb to the pass, yellow orchids on a grass patch of wetland, goats come flooding over the hillside. Yaks appear over the edge to our right moving slowly in ones or twos until there’s a couple of dozen, mostly female dzos, some with babies, a couple of big males, one a pale grey. Violet and yellow daisies, a red rumped bird, butterflies and crickets. Our final pass at 4320m, crackers, cheese and tea from a thermos. A French group, like others short of time because of delays to their flight, stop briefly while we take our time enjoying a moment of rest and reflection.

A long walk down to Lo Montang; a white bellied eagle passes low overhead. I cimb a shallow escarpment to peer in some caves but there is really nothing to see and I drop back down to an irrigation channel and eventually rejoin the path. We keep expecting views of Lo Montang but can only see further up the valley where the large new road from Tibet zig zags down from the Karu La, bringing change, welcome or not. We descend through a white dried mud landscape until the disapppointment of our first view of Lo Montang. Houses have been built outside the old town and the ancient walls are no longer quite so clear. It’s image  of medieval isolation is now in the past.

But we enter the southern gateway in the walls and the magic begins, then fades when our Guest House is full. The second choice, the New Lo Montang GH, is OK for tonight but rather bleak.


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