Mustang Tiji Festival Trek is a trek to Upper Mustang centered around ‘Tiji Festival’. This trek allows trekkers to get an intimate experience with the local culture. You can witness the traditional festivities of the local people of Mustang.
The timing of Mustang Tiji Festival Trek changes every year. The locals of Mustang follow the lunar calendar. Hence, the date of Tiji festival changes. It generally occurs during the end weeks of May or the beginning weeks of June.
In 2019, the Tiji Festival of Mustang will take place from 30th of May to 1st of June. Hence, you have to make sure you reach Upper Mustang by 30th of May to fully enjoy the festival.
Mustang Tiji Festival Trek: Introduction to Mustang Tiji Festival
Tiji Festival is a 3-day purification ritual known as ‘The chasing of Demons’. The history of the festival goes back many centuries. The origin of the festival is a mythical legend.
The word ‘Tiji’ originates from the word ‘Ten Che’. Ten Che is short for Tempachhirim. Tempachhirim means ‘Prayer for world peace’. The festival also celebrates the triumph of God over Demon and good over evil.
Different dances are graciously performed during the 3-day celebration. These dances tell the story of a deity called ‘Dorjee Jono’.
According to the legend, Dorjee Jono battles his own father- a demon, to save the kingdom of Mustang. The demon father wrecked havoc on Mustang by creating a water shortage. In an extremely arid land like Mustang, this caused a huge problem.
Hence, Dorjee Jono battled with his father and defeated the demon. He then banished the demon father from the land which brings peace and prosperity to the land. This story is elaborately performed by monks in traditional, colorful costume and masks.
The monks from the local Chode monastery perform these dances. The monk who plays ‘Dorjee Jono’ prepares for the role by staying in seclusion for 3 months during the winter months.
He begins his performance by throwing an effigy and Tsampa representa tion of ‘Ma Tam Ru Ta’ or demon.
During this 3-day festival, you can also witness the unrolling of an ancient thangka. It depicts the painting of Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava.
The locals believe that witnessing the dance and the thangka helps bring peace and prosperity to one’s life and lands. The locals also believe the dance performed during the festival cleanses the village and surrounding lands of evil souls.
Mustang Tiji Festival Trek: Highlights
- Witness the origins of the Tiji Festival
- Multiple dance performances by the local monks. The performers are clad in colorful, traditional and flamboyant robes and masks.
- The unrolling of ancient Thangka painting of Guru Rinpoche to the drums and chants of prayers by the local Chode Monks and the general public.
- Locals from all over Mustang in their best, traditional attire and jewelry.
- The walled city of Lo Manthang, the unofficial capital of Mustang.
- The palace of the king of Mustang. The Tiji Festival takes place in Lo Manthang, in front of the King’s palace. The king is still revered by the people to this day.
- Horse racing, a giant tug-of-war
Mustang Tiji Festival Trek Permits
For Mustang Tiji Festival trek, you need the following permits:
- ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Entry Permit)
- Restricted region entry permit.
You do not need a TIMS card for Mustang Tiji Festival Trek.
Note: Upper Mustang is in the restricted region category of treks in Nepal. This includes the Mustang Tiji Festival Trek. Hence, you need to follow the conditions mentioned by the Government of Nepal.
- No solo treks in this region. You must have one or more trekking partners.
- You must also hire a local, trekking staff (e.g a guide, porter) for this trek. The local, trekking staff doesn’t count as your trekking partner.
The Rituals and The Festival
The Tiji festival as a whole celebrates the victory of God over Demon and Good over Evil. During the three days, dance performances by the local monks of Chode monastery take place.
On the first day, the monks perform a dance called ‘Tsa Chaam’. This tells the story of the birth of ‘Dorji Sonam’- a reincarnated Buddha to a demon. This demon harassed the kingdom of Mustang and brought in havoc to the country.
You can witness the monks enacting the harassment of the said demon on the people of Mustang.
On the 2nd day, the monks perform ‘NgaCham’. During this performance, Dorjee Sonam tries to return the demon to the Buddha realm.
On the 3rd and final day of the festival, the ‘Rha Chham’ dance takes place. On this ceremony, Dorjee Sonam triumphs over the evil demon and banishes him from Mustang.
The monk who plays the role of Dorjee Sonam does this by throwing an effigy. This effigy made from Tsampa (barley) represents the demon ‘Ma Tam Ru Ta’.
This defeat brings peace and prosperity to the land of Mustang. Every year Tiji festival takes place in the hope of spreading peace throughout the world.
Mustang Tiji Festival Trek Itinerary
The Itinerary for Mustang Tiji Festival Trek is like the itinerary for the popular Upper Mustang Trek.
Here is an example of the Mustang Tiji Festival Trek. You can modify this itinerary to suit your preferences and need.
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu (1,400m).
Day02: Sightseeing tour in Kathmandu and trip meeting.
Day03: Drive to Pokhara (900m).
Day04: Fly to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni (2,800m).
Day05: Trek to Chele (3,050m).
Day06: Trek to Syangboche (3,800m).
Day07: Trek to Ghami (3,520m).
Day08: Trek to Charang (3,560m).
Day09: Trek to Lo-Manthang (3,840m).
Day10: First Day of Tiji Festival
Day 11: 2nd Day of Tiji Festival
Day 12: 3rd Day of Tiji Festival
Day 13: Trek to Dhamkar (3,820m).
Day 14: Trek down to Syangboche.
Day 15: Trek to Chhusang (2,980m).
Day 16: Trek to Jomsom (2,720m).
Day 17: Fly to Pokhara and rest.
Day 18: Drive back to Kathmandu.
Day 19: Final departure.
Weather Conditions and Temperature
Tiji Festival takes place for three days. It usually occurs during the last weeks of May or the beginning weeks of June.
Mid May to mid-June is a great time for treks to Upper Mustang. Unlike most parts of Nepal, Mustang enjoys dry weather during these months.
The weather is bright, long and dry. May and June have clear weather with amazing visibility in Upper Mustang. You can enjoy the majestic views of the surrounding landscape along with mountain peaks.
The warm temperatures of 18-22 degrees Celsius is perfect for treks. Make sure you carry sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and UV protection sunglasses. This helps prevent sunburn, dizziness.
Meals, Drinks, and Accommodation
You can do the Mustang Tiji Festival Trek as a tea house trek or a camping trek.
There are several tea houses throughout your Mustang Tiji Festival Trek. This is one of the most popular festivals of Mustang. If you want to get your preferred rooms and tea houses, pre-booking is a must.
If not, make sure to bring camping equipment to have a place to stay for the night.
This festival is quite popular with foreign tourists. During this festival, locals from all over Mustang and Nepal gather in Lo Manthang for the festival. Hence, the tea houses do fill quite fast.
Most of the tea houses offer clean and basic rooms on a sharing basis.
Meals and Drinks
These tea houses also serve clean and hygienic meals.
The menu is not as wide as those seen in the cities. They usually include the local favorites of fried, boiled noodles, dumplings, rice.
They also include local dishes like thukpa (diced flatbreads in a broth of vegetables or meat), mushroom soup. Most of them also include the Thakali set (a meal of steamed rice, lentils, seasonal vegetables and meat with gravy).
For drinks, you have options for soft drinks (coke, Pepsi, fanta, dew).
It also includes hot and cold flavored drinks, local tea (butter tea/ salt tea), sweet tea, coffee.
Some of the more luxurious tea houses and restaurants have a wider menu. These can include continental, Indian and Italian dishes. There is also a few simple bakery shops.
Mustang Tiji Festival: Do’s and Don’ts
Tiji Festival began centuries before foreign visitors could visit this land. It is a cultural affair. It is amazing how it has become a major tourist attraction.
During the dance performance
- Do not do flash photography. The monks performing these dances have worked hard for this performance. Do not ruin it with loud clicking sounds, on the stage photography.
- No loud noises, clappings or whistling during the performance.
- Ask for permission before taking pictures of or with the Thangka.
- Do not touch, just feel the Thangka.
Tiji festival is a cultural and religious festival of Mustang. Please dress accordingly.
- Avoid short skirts, shorts, exposure of shoulders, cleavage, abdomen, and legs.
The Mustang Tiji Festival trek is a fun trek suitable for all age groups. It is suitable for beginners and as family treks as well.
Mustang Tiji Festival trek has a moderate difficulty level grade. Yet the difficulty level of this trek is subjective to a range of things.
You can choose the easier routes, transportation, itineraries, and comfortable sleeping arrangements. These help to reduce the difficulty level of the trek.
The highest elevation lies at 3900m. The chances of high altitude sickness is not as common on this trek.
Yet, getting as much information about sickness related to high altitudes and long duration treks can be helpful.
Tips for Safety
- Always carry a hand sanitizer, gel or hand wipes. These come in handy during times when access to water is difficult.
- Purify your drinking water. You can do this by carrying water purifier tabs, gels or steripens.
- Do not drink water directly from the taps, river, waterfall, snow or ice in the region.
- Get a consultation with your doctor before the trek. This helps to get information on any health risks you may face during, before and after the trek.
- Inform your guide of any health complications you have. This way they can take necessary precautions.
- Maintain your walking pace during the trek. Do not rush.
- Choose an itinerary that has proper rest and acclimatization days.
Gears, Equipment, and Supplies
Make sure you pack all the right gears, equipment, clothing and supplies needed for a trek. These can include:
- Important documents(valid passport with at least 6 months till the date of maturity, permits)
- Trekking shoes, pole
- Raincoat, rucksack or duffle bag and waterproof rucksack/duffle covers
- First aid kit
- Cash (enough Nepali Rupees to last you throughout the trek)
- Toiletries kit
- Clothing: half sleeve and full sleeved T-shirts, hiking shorts, pants thermals, fleece wear (for the nights)
- Books or games for entertainment
- Insulating jacket and windbreaker for the windy days and nights
All these are available to buy or rent in Kathmandu or Pokhara. You can also bring them from your home country.
Mustang Tiji Festival Trek is a unique, annual trek to Upper Mustang. This trek gives you an in-depth understanding of the local culture and traditions.
You get a real-life example of the local festivities of the locals of Mustang. It gives you a glimpse into the rich culture and tradition of the Nepalese culture.
Mustang Tiji Festival takes places every year and allows visitors from around the world to witness it as well.
For any further inquiries of this trek or any other trek in Nepal, feel free to contact us.