Lost Caves Of Mustang

When my maternal grandfather was still alive, he attended to what could be called our “clan guardian” deity’s residence. All I know is that it was in a cave across the Kali Gandaki river that flowed below our village. I would loved to have learned more about it from him but it was not to be.

This was the same grandfather who I had been with — in my village of Tangbe, in Mustang — as a toddler. On my dad’s request, reluctantly, he had dropped me off in Pokhara, still a toddler, and had piggybacked me to and back from school, everyday until he returned to the village.

And when I had ended up at St. Xavier’s Godavari School in Kathmandu,  he had been the proudest man in the village!

Unfortunately, he passed away, when I was in fourth grade (the same year my classmates ostracised me)! It would be twenty years before I returned to my village, by which time of course, my grandfather had been long gone. So, I learned nothing more about that cave and others that are everywhere around our village as well as in the rest of the district.

But, foreign scholars recently came to the rescue! The caves were explored, studied and researched by a National Geographic team earlier this century. What they have uncovered is fascinating!

One of things they were in search of was the secret cave temples, of which there is supposed to be nine.

The following video is about the actual expedition.

In the next three videos, the three individuals involved in the expedition, talk about it, beginning with the mountaineer Peter Athans.

In the following one, the archaeologist Mark Aldenderfer talks about the expedition and discoveries.

In this final video you hear from the photographer and adventurer Cory Richards.

Is the Government of Nepal doing anything to help preserve these cultural heritages? Are those in Kathmandu, who have exploited the tourism potential of the district and made a lot of money from when it was opened up for business in 1992, contributing in any way to the preservation of those and other cultural heritages of the region? Not that I know of.

I would love to be proven wrong though.


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Daily Mail (Aug. 2013). Mystery of the ancient kingdom discovered in Nepal where thousands of caves are carved 155ft off the ground.

Amusing Planet (March 2016). The Mysterious Caves of Mustang, Nepal.



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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Karla Schmidt

    I watched the first film of the cave explorers and the art historians discovering the sacred sites in upper Mustang. It was a wonderful film. How I wish it were possible to bring the village people to honor and be proud of this heritage!

    1. Dorje

      Yes indeed! It would be great to bring the people in the area to honor and take pride in this heritage. But, given the level of education of the people, lack of incentive/interest from the government and other agencies, that is not likely to happen any time soon, unfortunately! 🙁 🙁

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