Yartung Festival is one of the biggest festivals all over the Mustang region. Upper Mustang (previously known as the Kingdom of Lo) is an upper part of Mustang District, which lies in the northern area, situated in Nepal. The Upper Mustang covers 66% of the Mustang District of Gandaki Province and consists of municipalities such as Lo Manthang, Salome, and Baragung Muktichhetra, which are considered rural areas. The Upper Mustang was a limited and neutralized region until 1992, making it one of the most protected locales on the planet, with a more significant part of the populace communicating in customary Tibetic dialects. Tibetan culture has been covered by the general segregation of the district from the rest of the world. The low land of the Upper Mustang region known as the lower Mustang has mix culture of Tibetan-style peoples and other casts like Thakali and Gurung. After the biggest Buddhist Tiji Festival, there are few other famous festivals in the mustang region of Nepal. Each festival has its own meaning and importance.
The Yartung Festival is celebrated mainly in Lo-manthang and Muktinath, especially people from lower Mustang are known for its celebration during the August full moon of every year. It is a multi-day festivity commended with horse races, drinking, and cultural dances from the Thakali and Tibetan people. During the three days festivity, the (local) king of the area, lamas, monks, and local people come together to fair bid to the summer season, which has brought them a lot of joy & prosperity throughout the year.
Yartung means the end of summer; Mela implies a celebration in the form of the festival or fairs; Yartung Mela implies a celebration to ship off summer. This celebration is for making contributions to Buddha and getting blessings from the chief of the village as well as from senior residents for a promising future. Thus, they praise this celebration with excitement, appreciating the extraordinary lives the mid-year has brought to them. At that point, they have wrapped up gathering the harvests, and they have put away the grains in their homes. Their spiritual leader/guru, also called Lama, sets the day for observing Yartung Mela, tracking down the most auspicious day in their schedule, and remembering the perspective on the culmination of collecting crops. Typically, the senior Lama picks the full moon day, Janai Purnima, for commending this celebration.
Yartung Mela (Festival) is usually celebrated from 14 August to 16 August, which is the time of the full moon of August. The festival's primary component is the Yartung fair performed by Local People, Lamas, Monks, and Horse Race competition by people. For tourists interested in the Yartung Mela, the Yartung trek is the way to go as it gives them an opportunity to visit places such as Muktinath, Jwala Mai monastery, and culturally rich towns, ie. Bonpo Gompa in Lupra village. They will also get to have a magnificent view of Mt. Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri. Altogether, it’s a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime chance to understand and observe the beautiful blend of Buddhism and Hinduism through various historic towns and festivals.
Horse Riding during Yartung festival
In the great Himalayas, behind the majestic Dhaulagiri and magnificent Annapurna mountains 3,540 meters above ocean level, sits the practically strange yet stunningly lovely district of Upper Mustang, Nepal. This is where the ancient horse racing celebration known as Yartung is held every year in the town of Lo Manthang, the 500-year-old capital. The Yartung Festival is three days of merriments praising the finish of a good harvest season and an exceptionally welcome split away from the troublesome work in the fields with a full-scale horse race between residents exhibiting both strength and expertise. The celebration is coordinated to celebrate past triumphs and for amusement for the hardworking farmers. After a furious reap season, the Yartung celebration is viewed as a diversion method that allows the town's people to unwind, sing and dance for some time.
The month of August is the best season to travel Mustang and traveling mustang during this festival makes another charming time. Travel only up to Lower Mustang or up to Lo-manthang, there are different modes of travel. Driving the entire trip with jeep or trekking, Another option is by motorbike and by cycling. The Festival held at Muktinath is just a few hours drive from Jomsom airport. Jomsom is only one small airport inside Mustang and it is only 15 minutes flying from Pokhara. Another festival spot Lo-manthang is two days driving from Jomsom. Tourists must obtain restricted area permits from registered trekking companies and trekking guides from the company. Trekking to Upper Mustang is totally 15 days program. All the programs either trekking or riding or driving, there will be three days stop to explore Yartung festival. Not only exploring the festival but also the memorial visit to unique villages, meet local peoples, explore their customs and cultures, and visit monasteries, and caves. Cycling to Upper mustang can fly first to Jomsom airport but motor biking to Upper mustang most complete the entire road from Beni.
This festival trek or tour can be a great family trip. The child can enjoy the whole activity as there are plenty of local children involved in celebrating it. When you are trekking Thorong-La, you can meet and celebrate this festival in Muktinath. Muktinath is one of the holy pilgrimage places for Hindus and Buddhists. Nepal highland treks designed and well operate your trip to Annapurna Mustang together celebrates Yartung festival with locals. Be part of this festival once a year and get a lifetime experience of the celebration and explore nature. Not only because of the festival but also with the different natures, landscapes, peoples, and cultures, anyone being there will get a lifetime experience. As per your interest, you have the option of driving, flying, motor biking, cycling, or trekking.