The annual, three day Tiji Festival takes place in Lo-Manthang in Upper Mustang in mid May. This is a fascinating time to visit this region (see best time for mustang trek), particularly for those who are interested in the culture, colour and noise of Buddhist celebrations. However, for those who do not like crowds or would rather enjoy the beauty of the surroundings with less humans, perhaps visiting at another time would suit you better. Do remember to build in plenty of time for trekking into the area at festival time and plan well ahead as accommodation will be scares with the unusually large numbers of tourists and local people coming to the area. This is a 13 day trek if you are starting and ending at Pokhara, (15 days starting and ending at Kathmandu) which gives you two full days to witness the festival.
To give you an idea of the itinerary for the Tiji Festival Trek, please see here
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Want to visit the festival but don’t want to walk?
It is now possible to travel to Upper Mustang and Lo-Manthang by four wheel drive jeep. This would certainly reduce the stress!
It’s possible to hire a jeep or join an existing jeep tour. Again, remember at this time transport will also be extremely busy carrying pilgrims and other visitors. In terms of time involved, experiencing the Tiji Festival by jeep would take around 8 or 9 days Pokhara to Pokhara, thus saving time also for those who are on a tight timescale. Please remember, due to the altitude, although it might be physically possible to drive quickly up to the walled-city of Lo-Manthang where the festival is held, it is not advisable for health reasons. And besides, there is plenty to see on the way – from the caves that were homes to ancient people, rock paintings, unusual rock formations, monasteries and of course the fantastic close up views of the glistening mountains, such as Nilgiri, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. The more adventurous can even make a motorbike trip!
Please contact us directly for further information on the cost and possibility of jeep or motorbike tours.
Tiji Festival Overview
This is the biggest festival in Upper Mustang, and is held annually around mid May. This three day festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil with masked dancers in colourful costumes, to the accompaniment of drums, Buddhist horns, and the chanting of Buddhist monks.
The festival supposedly started about 500 years ago to commemorate the victory of Buddha, in an incarnation as Dorje Sonnu, over demons in order to banish these demons who were causing droughts in the area. Naturally the deity defeated the demons, bringing peace to the area.
Today, the excitement over Tiji starts a few days earlier when people from all over Mustang and beyond make their way by foot, mule, and nowadays by jeep, to Lo-Manthang. Lo-Manthang is the walled-town at the centre of Upper Mustang and the traditional home of the King of Lo. Unfortunately the 25th king in this lineage died in December 2016, but the festival will continue with the monks of Choedhe Monastery performing ritual dances and chants in both tribute to the late king and to continue this ancient tradition.
Along with the sounds of horns and chanting, the festival is alive with masked dancers, intoning spells and waving their swords in the air. An ancient Thangka painting of Guru Rimpoche Padmasambhava is displayed during the festival, the only time it is on public display.
Tiji Festival Dates
- 12-14 May 2018
- Mid May 2019