Tiji Festival in Mustang

  • Jul 22, 2022
  • Rajesh Thapaliya

The Tiji festival celebrates in the upper Mustang. It is located to the northwest of Kathmandu. The upper Mustang is a region with high Himalayan deserty lands, and it is close to Tibet. Mustang had its own rule and regulation with an extra king, but it was not a different country from Nepal. You can still see a royal palace in Lomanthang, which used to be the capital of Mustang. The region was not open for visitors, and it opened for tourists in 1992 with limited permits.

There are two different-looking people in Mustang. The upper part of the Mustang people are very much similar to the Tibetans, but the lower region is Thakali people. The people staying around the Thakkhola region are known as Thakali. They are famous for the Nepalese traditional food Dal Bhat.

You will enjoy natural, cultural and religious attractions during the Tiji festival tour. Kagbeni village, Muktinath temple, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massif and amazing landscapes make your upper Mustang visit very much memorable.


Mustang royal palace

 

Table of Contents

Tiji festival is a famous Tibetan Buddhist festival, which celebrates in Lo-Manthang. The Lo-Manthang was the capital city of Mustang, and it is located in the upper Mustang. The purpose of celebrating this festival is: to protect the region from any kind of natural disaster and evil power. The name Tiji represents the word Tenchi, which is a short form of Tempa Tenpa Chirim (prayer for world peace).

The Tiji festival onset more than 300 years ago as a celebration of victory against the devil by the gods. According to the cultural and Buddhist religious evidence, the traditional history of Lama Dorje Jono and Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) have been linked directly to Vajrayana Buddism. The Lama Dorje Jono Instructed by Guru Rinpoche, was defeated to the devil force for peace and prosperity in the upper Mustang.

The monks from Chhode monastery in Lomanthang do a special Vajrakila ritual every year in May. People wear colourful masks and dance with chants during this festival in Lo-Manthang. This festival dance shows a historical fight between Dorje Jono and the devils.

The Tiji festival begins with a peaceful dance, which indicates a symbolic performance of the god winning against the devil. On the second day perform is to try to send demons to the Buddha realm and the third day ends with presenting the gods and demons wearing different masks and horns, which call Dhungchen.

Tiji Festival Celebration

The First Day Celebration

The first day of the Tiji festival begins in the afternoon. The locals start managing the things for the festival in the morning. The festival officially begins with big sounds of horns, drums and cymbals. It begins in the monastery with the monks and performers. Then, the monks head on to the palace square and sit on a big traditional Buddhist painting (Thanka). The Tsa Chaam dance with mask goes on after this in the yard. This type of dance tells a tale about Dorje Jono and his victory against the demon.

The Second Day Celebration

On the second day of the festival, the monks execute Nga Cham dance in the palace yard. The dance shows the meaning of Dorje Jono trying to send demons to the Buddha realm. The performers look like female performers with their typical dresses and ornaments heading towards the main palace square. The performance applies the period of the heavenly palace and deities on the second day during this festival.

The Third Day Celebration

The third day is the last day of the Tiji festival. It starts the action with ceremonial music and masked dance, which calls Rha Chaam. This kind of performance indicates the end of the demon force. All the performances come out together at the end with more music, dance and shooting guns. A monk executes as Dorjee Sonam throws a dummy made from Tsampa (barely), which indicates the evil named Ma Tam Ru Ta.

Plan a Trek for Tiji Festival


Mountain view from upper Mustang region

You can plan a trek to the upper Mustang for the Tiji festival. But, when to go to this festival? If you are really interested to see the festival, you need to trek in May. The Tiji remains in May every year, but the dates can be different. It is fixed according to the Tibetan lunar calendar.

You need to have around 20-days in Nepal in total for the Tiji festival trek. The trekking itinerary from Pokhara to Pohara is 15-days. Here, you can find the itinerary of the Tiji trek to the upper Mustang.

Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu (1,350m)

A representative from Frolic Adventure picks you up from the international airport in Kathmandu with private transport and then transfers you to the hotel. Here, you meet the company manager to talk about the trip after your refreshment in the hotel.

Day 02: Free Day and Permit making day in Kathmandu (1,35m)

It is your free day in Kathmandu because you need an extra day to arrange a restricted region entry permit in Kathmandu. You need to hand over your original passport to the company representative for the permit. You can do the Kathmandu city tour, Bhaktapur and Patan tour, other day tours or day hike in the valley to spend your free day today.

Day 03: Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara (8,20m) 6-7 hrs

You drive in the morning from Kathmandu to Pokhara in a tourist bus early morning today. It takes around 6-7 hours to reach Pokhara. The driving road today goes through different beautiful valleys, so you can see lots of traditional towns, rice fields, rivers, waterfalls and more. Alternatively, you can fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, which takes 25 minutes. Once you check in at the hotel in Pokhara, you can walk around the lakeside and overnight at the hotel.

Day 04: Fly from Pokhara to Jomsom (2,720m) - 19 minutes, and trek to Kagbeni (2,800m) 3-4 hrs

You fly early morning from Pokhara to Jomsom today. The flight flies following the Kali Gandaki river crossing over Ghorepani. This 19 minutes flight offers beautiful views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massif, attractive landscapes, green forests, rivers and waterfalls. Right after landing at Jomsom airport, you trek to Kagbeni following the Kali Gandaki for about 3-4 hrs.

Day 05: Trek from Kagbeni to Chaele (3,100m) 5-6 hrs

Through an open valley, you trek to Chele today after breakfast in Kagbeni. This 5-6 hour journey goes through Tangbe and Chhusang to Chaile. You can search for some Saligrima (fossil) today on the Kaligandaki riverbank during the trek.

Day 06: Trek from Chele to Syangbochen (3,800m) 6-7 hrs

Today, you trek to Syangbochen through Samar. The trail gradually ascends until Samar and then descends for a few minutes. The trail ascends again for another hour and then descends to Chhungsi cave. Here, you can see a monastery and Buddhist monuments and then a gradual climb to Syangbochen.

Day 07: Trek from Syangbochen to Ghami (3,510m) 4 hrs

After breakfast at the guesthouse, you ascend for a few minutes. You can see beautiful views of Nilgiri, Tilicho, Khangsar Khang, Annapurna Fang and lots of other high snow-capped mountains today. Walking through the Himalayan desert lands, you reach Ghami today.

Day 08: Trek from Ghami to T-Sarang (3,560m) 4 hrs

You start the day descending to the stream and then crossing a suspension bridge. Right after crossing the bridge, you start ascending. Here, you see a long Buddhist Mani wall. You see colourful hills and caves towards Dhakmar village after crossing the Mani wall. You still ascend for another half an hour and then the trail goes flat and down to T-Sarang.

Day 09: Trek from T-Sarang to Lomanthang (3,840m) 5 hrs

After breakfast at the lodge in Charang, you start the day by descending a small stream, then ascends for half an hour. The trail goes gradual ascends from here for another 2 hours and then descends at the last part to Lomanthang. You can walk around the town in the afternoon after lunch here in Lo-Manthang.

Day 10: Enjoy the first-day festival

Day 11: Enjoy the second-day festival

Day 12: Enjoy the last day Festival

Day 13: Visit Chhoser cave and overnight in Lomanthang

You hike to Chooser village this morning after breakfast. It takes around 2 hours to reach this village. You can see beautiful views of Annapurna Himalaya backwards. You visit Chhoser cave, which is a four-storied cave on a hill. After the cave, you visit two ancient Buddhist monasteries in this town, then hike back to Lo-Manthang after lunch in Chhoser village.

Day 14: Trek from Lomanthang to Ghami (3,510m) 5-6 hours

Today, you start returning the same way to Ghami via T-Sarang. You will have a great view of the beautiful Annapurna mountain range the whole day today. Most of the trekking trail goes downhill today to Ghami.

Day 15: Trek from Ghami to Samar (3,600m) 6 hrs

You start the day by ascending at the beginning for about an hour and then descend towards Ghiling valley. Also, you have stunning Annapurna massif views today. You reach Syangbochen for lunch, then take the upper trail to Samar.

Day 16: Trek from Samar to kagbeni (2,800m) 6 hrs

After breakfast at the lodge, you start the trek to Kagbeni today. You will pass the villages like Chele, Chhusang and Tangbe before arriving Kagbeni. The trail for today mostly descends, but it might be windy on the trail. You will see Dhaulagiri and Annapurna massif from the trekking trail today.

Day 17: Trek from Kagbeni to Jomsom (2,720m) 3 hrs

Today is the shortest day of walking during the Tiji festival trek. You just walk about 3 hours from Kagbeni to Jomsom. You spend a night here to wait for the next day's flight to Pokhara.

Day 18: Fly out from Jomsom to Pokhara (820m) - 19 minutes

Today you fly early morning to Pokhara from Jomsom. There are no flights during the day because of the strong wind in this Kaligandaki valley. You have a full day in Pokhara today, so you can do a Pokhara city tour, paragliding or bungee jump if you are interested.

Day 19: Drive back to Kathmandu (1,350m) 6-7 hrs

You drive in the morning by a tourist bus from Pokhara to Kathmandu today. The bus leaves at 7:30 and reaches Kathmandu around 3 pm. You check in at the hotel in Kathmandu and then can walk around the Thamel if you would like to do some souvenir shopping. You will have a farewell dinner this evening with Frolic Adventure.

Day 20: Departure to the international airport for your final flight

Frolic Adventure provides private transport to the international airport for your final departure to your home from Nepal.

Enjoy Tiji Festival with a Short Holiday


Upper Mustang Jeep tour

Don’t you have enough time for a long Tiji festival trek? But, you must be interested to join this special occasion with the Mustang people. Yes, you have an option for that. You can drive directly to Lomanthang from Pokhara, which takes you two days to reach the upper Mustang from Pokhara.

On the first day, you drive to Kagbeni from Pokhara. You reach Lomanthang on the second day. You can visit Chhoser cave on the same day when you reach Lo Manthang from Kagbeni. On the third, fourth and fifth day, you join the festival and then you drive back to Kalopani on the sixth day. Then you arrive back in Pokhara on the seventh day.

Conclusion

Tiji festival in upper Mustang is held in May every year, but the date can be different because it is decided by the Tibetan lunar calendar. You need to contact us for the date and then we suggest you. We arrange this festival group tour and private tour. We also organize the trip for an individual traveller.

Rajesh Thapaliya

Rajesh Thapaliya

Namaste! I am Rajesh, a Nepal travel blogger who provides Nepal travel tips to travellers who are planning to visit Nepal and know about Nepal.

I am a tourism service provider in Nepal So far, I have been to the Nepalese Himalayan base camps as a tour leader and collected lots of information about the Nepalese Himalayas. You can find my experiences in my travel blogs, so it may make it a lot easier for you to travel to Nepal.

You may find beautiful photos on Instagram,  Facebook and Twitter. I have worked very hard to be in this stage after high school and dedicated my experiences to the people who would like to know about Nepal and Nepal travel.