Lo Manthang

Lo Manthang is a medieval walled city and Village Development Committee in Mustang District in the Dhawalagiri Zone of northern Nepal. At the time of the 1991 Nepal census it had a population of 876 people living in 178 individual households.

On the Tibetan Plateau north of the main Himalayas range, Lo Manthang served as the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Mustang, which survives as the Kingdom of Lo (or "Upper Mustang" (the northern two-thirds of the present-day Mustang District.)) Lo Manthang was founded in 1380 by Ame Pal, who oversaw construction of the city wall and many of the still-standing structures in the early 15th century. The monarchy officially ceased to exist on October 7, 2008 by Nepali Government order. The last king (raja or gyelpo) is Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista (born c. 1933), in the direct line of the historic monarchy dating back 25 generations to 1380. The population includes ethnic Lhobas.

Recently a series of at least twelve caves were discovered north of Annapurna and near the village, decorated with ancient Buddhist paintings and set in sheer cliffs at 14,000 feet (4,300 m). The paintings show Newari influence, dating to approximately the 13th century, and also contain Tibetan scripts executed in ink, silver and gold and pre-Christian era pottery shards. Explorers found stupas, decorative art and paintings depicting various forms of the Buddha, often with disciples, supplicants and attendants, with some mural paintings showing sub-tropical themes containing palm trees, billowing Indian textiles and birds.

The village is noted for its tall white washed mud brick walls, gompas and the Raja's or Royal or King's Palace, a nine-cornered, five story structure built around 1400. There are four major temples: Jampa Lhakhang or Jampa Gompa, the oldest, built in the early 15th century and also known as the "God house"; Thubchen Gompa, a huge, red assembly hall and gompa built in the late 15th century and located just southwest of Jampa Gompa; Chodey Gompa, now the main city gompa; and the Choprang Gompa, which is popularly known as the "New Gompa".

Even though foreign visitors have been allowed in the kingdom since 1992, tourism to Upper Mustang remains limited, with just over 2000 foreign tourists in 2008.

The Nepalese Department of Immigration requires foreign visitors to obtain a special permit, which costs $50 per day per person, and liaison (guide) to protect local tradition from outside influence as well as to protect their environment.

Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lo_Manthang