Upper Dolpa: The Hidden Treasure of Nepal

234 km far from Kathmandu, a high-altitude culturally Tibetan region named as Upper Dolpo lies in the upper part of the Dolpa District of western Nepal . Since the border in the North by China, the people living here are mostly influenced by the Tibetan language and culture. Although having rich in unique geographical and cultural beauty, the precise population here is pretty less which is even less than around 5000. In spite of lacking in infrastructures and development, Upper Dolpo has enormous potential to draw the attention of local as well as a foreign tourist by their unique cultural and natural beauty. It is clearly a hidden treasure for a tourist who is fond of trekking since it is a popular destination for trekking tourism.

Dolpo is geologically part of the sedimentary Tibetan-Tethys zone. It is surrounded by Himalayan mountain chains including the Dhaulagiri (8,172 meters (26,811 ft)). These cloud barriers cause a semi-arid climate, with reported annual precipitations of less than 500 millimeters (20 in).
The region is historically divided into four valleys:
Tsharka: Good growing-place
Tarap: Auspicious excellent
Panzang: Abode of monks &
Nangkhong: Innermost place

The historical records of Dolpa can be seen since the 8 th century. From the 6 th century to the 8 th century, we found that the Tibetan Yarlung dynasty had conquered most Tibetan speaking areas. In 842, Tibet fell apart & the kingdom of Purang temporarily came under Guge in the 10 th century. But sooner it became separate when king Sky Ide Nyi Ma Mgon divided Guge among his three sons. During the reign of the Ya- rtse king, A-sog-lde around 1253 both Dolpo and Serib were lost to the ruler of Gungthang, mGon po lde. The latter then reunited both the Dolpo and Serib and classified them among one of three provinces of mNga’ ris. It is also known from historical documents that Mongolian troops reached Dolpo to conquer this province when they conquered many parts of Tibet and finally handed over the power to the ruler of the Sakya period.
In the 14th century, Dolpo fell under its eastern neighbor the Kingdom of Lo , which controlled the trans Himalayan trade route through the Kali Gandaki Gorge . The Dolpo had to pay tax and travel to Lo Monthang to provide manual labor. For some time between the 15th century (1440) and the 16th century, Dolpo was temporarily independent and ruled by a king from the Rana dynasty. In 1769, the Gorkhas conquered Kathmandu and established the Kingdom of Nepal , which would soon reach more or less the country’s modern extent. In 1789, Nepal swallowed the Lo kingdom and with it Dolpo. The kingdom’s attempt to wrest nominal suzerainty over Tibet from China ended in a massive Chinese intervention that left Nepal paying tribute to China.

Treasures for Trekking & Tourism

Upper Dolpo trekking is a completely the restricted area required a special permit for this trekking. It was opened since 1989; the trek was categorized as difficult highlander trails for every traveller in far western Nepal. Upper Dolpo Trek in western Nepal is off the beaten path adventure exhibiting the authentic real life of local inhabitants and raw natural beauty that simply amazes us in all terms. Exploring Phoksundo lake, visiting ancient Shey Gompa monastery while enjoying excellent views of nearby Kanjiroba and holy Crystal mountain, crossing high altitude passes of Nagdalo La, Shey La and Jeng La with insights into ancient Buddhist Bon religion remain as the major highlights of Upper Dolpo Trek. Upper Dolpo Trek initiates as you arrive at the capital city of Kathmandu and board a flight to Nepalgunj and then to Juphal which is the starting point of upper Dolpo Trek. Trekking through rugged trails of Dunai, Chhepka, Sumduwa we arrive at the highest and deepest Lake of Nepal Lake Phoskundo and enjoy pristine surroundings for a day. Further, we leave Sallaghari behind and arrive at the popular ancient Shey Gompa monastery via Nagdalo La pass. We get beautiful views of Crystal Mountain, Kanjiroba Himalayas. In a similar passion, we cross Shey La and Jeng La pass respectively.

These exceptionally beautiful places also have been captured in the Oscar-nominated movie ‘Caravan’. Finally, making our way through trans-Himalayan landscapes we trek towards Juphal and fly back to Kathmandu via Nepalgunj. All the adventure enthusiasts with a good level of physical fitness and passion for exploring isolated places, walking, and camping can join this trek. Nearby the Shey Gonpa is the Mount Crystal Peak in Buddhist Shelri Kang. It is the Younger among two sisters of Mount Kailash, it is the elder sister in sisters & another sister is in Humla Mount Shelmo Kang likewise two younger brothers are Mount Lapchi and Mount Tsari.

The best time for this Upper Dolpo Trek would be from the month of May to early September. Also, we can include monsoon months of June, July, and August. As the Upper Dolpo region lies in the rain shadow area, rainfall is very rare there. And we avoid winter season due to high snowfall here.