Standing in the midst of the rugged natural landscape of Dolpo in all its beauty and experiencing its remoteness you can not help but feel that this is Shangri La; a region with an aura of mysticism about it. Dolpo, also called “Ba Yul” or the Hidden Valley, has fascinating villages and is a land of mystery, scenery and peace.
Isolated and secluded from the outside world by spiraling high mountain passes and restricted entry, mysterious Dolpo had long fascinated and frustrated travelers. David Snellgrove first revealed the mysterious of Dolpo in his book Himalayan Pilgrimage (1961). Peter matthiessen’s description of Shey Gompa (Crystal Monastery) in The Snow Leopard (1979) further piqued readers’ interest.
In 1988, the valley leading to Dolpo’s Shey Phoksindo National Park were de-restricted to organized trekking groups who are self-sufficient in food and fuel. Lake Phoksindo is the major attraction of Dolpo. The newly promoted Dolpo Experience Circuit links Phoksindo experience with the naturalbeauty and cultural experience of Dho and other villages en route. There are altogether 130 gompas in Dolpo, some of their histories going back to very early times.
The medicinal plant, Yarchagumba (Coerdiopsis sinensis) a type of wild mushroom is found in abundance in this region. Extract from Yarchagumba ae believed to significiantly improve health and fitness.
Shey phoksindo National park, lake Phoksindo, and Shey Gompa are the prime attractions of this region. Newly promoted circuits which encompass the prime attractions and also offer other uniquely Dolpo experiences are: Dolpo Experience circuit and Dolpa Heritage circuit.
While lower Dolpo is home to Thakuri, Chhetri, Brahmin, Upper Dolpo is home of the Bhotiya and Sherpa people. Much of northern Dolpo is the domain of Buddhism. Both Hindus and Buddhists revere areas in southern Dolpo, such as the temple of Bala Tripaura Sundari in Tripurakot where a large number of devotees from the surrounding region offer wirship. Some parts of Dolpo is inhabited by people practicing the pre-Buddhism regiligon called “Bon Po” that disappeared from Tibet in the 9th century.
The inhabitants of Lower Dolpo subsist on buckwheat, wheat and potatoes, a presperious existence compared to the people of Upper Dolpo who depend on barley as sole crop. The stalwart yeak is a vital source of food, transport and dung fuel. They also trade salt for grain with those from far away Hurikot and Jumla to compensate their dwindling winter supply of food.
The remoteness of the area has helped conserve ancient cultural traditions of Buddhism and can be experienced firsthand. The local people still dress in religious and traditional costumes during times of feasts and festivals.
Due to the remote location and hard living conditions, not so many people live or travel in these areas. As a result, the people of Dolpo are part of a very isolated culture found in specific pockets of northern Nepal. …