So far, the Himalayan region of Nepal remains yet to be fully explored. Although the majestic peaks ranging in the Himalayas has been scaled, there are remote settlements within the foothills of the Himalayas that remains exclusive. These settlements amid the staggering range of mountains in the total tranquility have enticed people from around the world to embark towards it.
The challenging journey in the remote trails in Nepal surrounded by the pristine beauty of nature is the destination-to-be for the avid adventurers. As home to the mighty Himalayan range including eight out of fourteen tallest mountains in the world, Nepal already offers the best treks in the world including Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit; well, the trekking experience here is unparalleled.
Trekking to Upper Dolpo is the newly discovered adventure that lets you dive into the rich Bon religion and culture, taking you through the most dramatic setting of nature.
Upper Dolpo Trek
Upper Dolpo is culturally-rich settled in the high-altitude region of Dolpo District of western Nepal. As Upper Dolpo is bordered by Tibet in the north, the culture is very much inspired by Tibetan religion and tradition.
The region is connected to the rest of Nepal through Jufal airport, which is reached With such remoteness and extreme location, Upper Dolpo is sparsely populated, and this very reason has kept the nature and culture intact.
Upper Dolpo is historically divided into four valleys; Tshara meaning good growing place, Tarap meaning auspicious excellent, Panzang meaning abode of monks and Nangkong meaning innermost place.
Upper Dolpo Trek is a remarkable journey in the remote land of Bon, which is as Tibetan as Nepali. Surrounded by the majestic range of Himalayan mountain including Dhaulagiri, trekking towards Upper Dolpo is a rare experience anywhere.
Upper Dolpo Permit Cost
For Upper Dolpo trek, you will need a special trekking permit, with following rules being followed.
-You must trek in a group with a minimum of two people accompanied by licensed trekking guide.
-You must find authorized trekking agency to apply for this permit because individual trekkers cannot apply.
-For lower Dolpo, the fee is USD 20 per person/week and USD 5 per person/week after one week.
-For Upper Dolpo, the fee is USD 500 per person for the first ten days and USD 50 person/day after ten days.
Attractions of Upper Dolpo Trek
Blend of Different Culture
The inhabitants of Upper Dolpo comprises Buddhists and Bon cults, which quite resembles Tibetan culture and tradition. Even their language is non-Nepali, known as Khaam, again similar to Tibetan language but not the same.
Although Bon religion is mainly prevalent in Upper Dolpo, the middle and lower region of Dolpo exhibits the mixture of a different culture.
In the middle region, you can observe the perfect blend of Tibetan and Hindu culture, where a typical sect emerged from Magar ethnicity exists called Taralis (in local language) and speak their dialect of Kaike which is exclusively spoken here only.
In the lower region, you can witness of Nepali language and culture with some influence of Hindi.
Distant and Distinctive settlement
The high-altitude settlement of Upper Dolpo amid the rich Himalayan beauty draped in exclusive Bon religion is one of the major attraction of Upper Dolpo.
Not only the location, but the lifestyle is also even more extreme. The region is sparsely populated comprising agro-pastoral inhabitants. People migrate between villages and high-lying summer pastures; a lifestyle referred to as samadrok (farming nomads).
Locally available products are not sufficient to guarantee survival as agriculture is limited. Traditionally, Dolpo trades salt from Tibet to lower parts of Nepal and in return for salt, they receive grain and shelter.
However, no matter the difficulty and struggle, the people are peacefully settled adhering to their centuries-old culture and practice.
Dho-Tarap is a village, where Dho village and its neighbors Lang and Tokyou are collectively called Dho-Tarap. Settled in the stunning picturesque of hills and mountains, the valley ranges from 3,900 meters to 4,200 meters.
Along with the incredible environment, the valley also boasts Bon religion with eight different monasteries including a Bon monastery. Another interesting thing is, it used to be the capital of Dolpo before being annexed by King of Gorkha in the 17th century.
Located in a very strategic center, Dho Tarap can be reached from nine different villages of Dolpo in just a day.
Shey Phuksundo Lake
The glaring lake of Shey Phuksundo is ready a popular destination amongst trekkers for trekking in Nepal, and in Upper Dolpo trek as well, the lake serves as one major attraction.
The Himalayan lake of Shey Phuksundo lies at an altitude of 3,612 meters and acts as a center of reverence as well. Phuksundo lake complex comprises over 20 stupas and one gompa, where annual prayers and worship takes place. The captivating beauty of the lake, along with its religious essence, has made Shey Phuksundo an obvious attraction of the journey.
Located at an elevation of 4,200 meters, Chharka Village is one of the highest human settlement in the world. Chharka Village can feel like stepping back in time, as its ambiance is of the medieval fortified village.
The houses in Chharka Village is fascinating; built in a congested way, there are even three-storey houses. In almost every houses, there are yak pens which forms a kind of wall around the town. With a very little arable land, yaks are used for everyday activities of transporting goods.
The inhabitants of Chharka Village includes Habga, Yangton, Toyo, Tolung, Siro, Purang and Nopri which came from Dulung Village, Lasing, Tibet, and Poldya of Tinge Village.
Sachen Gompa is the important religious site of the village of Ningmapa sect. It was built in 1400 AD by Dorje Choekyong Sampo and later re-constructed in 1996 with the participation of villagers.
Now, Tinje Village lies within Panzag Valley of Upper Dolpo above the confluence of main Panzang river and Polte rover. Located at 4,110 meters altitude, Tinje is a small flat terrain village with the only historic fort remains of Upper Dolpo. Polte village in the vicinity of Tinje has remains of monasteries found in deep insolation.
It is said that the region of Tinje village is shaped like the heel of a person’s foot “tingba,” which constituted the name as Tingyu; however, later permuted as Tinje.
Bantshang Kula Palsang is the sacred site of the village, where a circumambulation during Horse year of Tibetan lunar calendar especially in fool moon is considered holy.
Of several settlements in Upper Dolpo, Saldang is the largest village in Upper Dolpo in. In ancient times, Saldang was the kingdom of Upper Dolpo with several scattered settlements around.
According to the legend, there was not enough water in the village, but there was enough Sa (land). And as the land was dang (raised one), it came to be known as Saldang.
Saldang Village comprises an array of gompas and monasteries dating back to centuries. Samye Choling Monastery and Jovo Monastery were built in the 16th and 13th century respectively and belong to Nyingma Pa sect.
On the right top corner of the village lies Namgong Gompa, Komang Gompa is in Komash Village, and Yangjer Gompa of Nisel Village is one of the oldest gompas in Dolpo. The extended village of Saldang other different hidden settlements including Tiling, Giling, Marang, Karang and Chagaon.
Legends have it that, once a byi (mouse) owned the whole land of area. Then, one day, a lama approached the area and decided to make it peaceful and liveable, eventually crushing the mouse against the cliff face. Thus, came the name, Bhijer.
However, during the ancient time, the valley was known as Jicher to the locals.
Bhijer is incredibly beautiful valley at 3,850 meters surrounded by barren hills, terraces and impressive chortens in the east. You will also come across Ngagyur Naser Nyingma monastery and Samling Bon Gompa in Bhijer valley.
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