Tsum Valley: Nepal’s concealed Valley of contentment
Situated near the remote borderlands of the high Himalayas are several sacred beyuls…secret valleys found by people with pure minds and hearts. According to early teachings, these beyuls were bent by Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), the reknowned 8th-century mystic who introduced Buddhism to the Tibetan, Nepali and Bhutanese people in the Himalayas. These magical valleys are purported to be havens of tranquility, affluence, theology and a sacred sanctuary for true seekers and believers. In the 17th-century, Tsum Valley became known as Beyul Kyimolung.
One of Nepal's most beautiful valleys, which is secluded from the southern lowlands by deep forested gorges and cascading rivers, and from Tibet in the north by high snow-covered passes. It is home to 18 small villages and about 4000 people of the native racial group known as “Tsumbas”. They are mainly of Tibetan origin and practice Buddhism and Bon religions. Tsum Valley only opened to foreign trekkers in 2008. Due to this, along with its remoteness and inaccessibility, Tsum Valley and its people have avoided commercial impacts and changes for centuries. As a result, its unique culture has remained largely integral. Since it has not been visited by many travelers, there are very few established facilities such as teahouses, hotels, stores or restaurants along the track. There are inspiring home stay programs in Tsum Valley to allow travelers direct interface and imminent into customary Himalayan lifestyles.
Our Tsum Valley trek begins in Arughat (Gorkha district), which is easily accessible from Kathmandu. It is surrounded by soaring Himalayan peaks, including the Baudha Himal and Himal Chuli to the west, Ganesh Himal to the South and Sringi Himal to the north. The northern station of the valley is bordered by three high passes to Tibet, including Ngula Dhoj Hyang (5093 m.) to the east and Thapla Pass (5326 m.) to the west. There are no airports, roads or mechanical vehicles in (or near) Tsum Valley. All travel is done on foot along time-worn trails that trait many antique chortens and carved mani stone walls emblazoned with prayers and depictions of deities. The Buddhist saint Milarepa is whispered to have meditated in caves of this mountainous valley, and it is home to over 100 monks and nuns at Mu Monastery and Rachen Nunnery. Many inhabitants of Tsum report having seen or found signs of Mehti, commonly referred to in the West as the 'Yeti' or 'Abominable Snowman'.
There are many reasons to go to Tsum ,The entice of the remote. The intact Tibetan culture. The lack of bright Gore-Tex jackets filling up the trails. The wonderful welcome and authentic warmth of the local Tibetan people who aren’t dishonored by groups of tourists with $ signs on their heads. Where else in Nepal can you go where the locals are singing in the fields rather than trying to entice you into their lodge.
You might decide to go there. Buddhist prayers carved into stone tablets line the trails of Tsum Valley, while snow-capped 6000m peaks appear beyond and between the vertiginous brown “hillsides”. Traditional culture pervades the area, with women spinning wool into thread by hand and friendly faces inviting you in for tea…or homemade alcohol.
Beginning on the main route into the Manaslu Conservation Area, you curve for days through a steep-sided gorge where the sun arrives mid-morning and departs well before sunset. Waterfalls abound, monkeys appear, and slate roofs top mud houses as you gradually climb 4000ft (1200m). Young girls are shy to have their photo taken but then become fascinated with seeing them displayed on the screen. Old women have yet to understand that you can’t take the picture from the camera instantly and give it to them. Men wear fur-lined hats brought over from Tibet and ride horses that tinkle with strings of chimes. Yak caravans weighed down with rice, salt, and tea command the trail as they pass. People meet you with easy smiles and common questions, “Where are you from?…Where are you going?”.
Locals want the benefits that tourism can give up, and in a place with so few resources, tourism could bring enormous monetary advantage to the area. The challenge for Tsum is that everything which draws visitors is at risk as tourism expands. The impact of tourism in nearby lower Manaslu is readily obvious. Campsites are littered with wrappers and garbage. Children accost you with pleas of, “Namaste pen!” and “Namaste balloon!”, having learned to beg for foreign delights. Adults watch you pass with bland indifference.
Trekking in Tsum Valley is not only a journey to a beautiful, inspiring and secret hideaway…but also a journey back in time, where ancient Tibetan traditions and cultures are still alive and being practiced today. It’s a genuine ‘off-the-beaten trail’ gem of an experience!
Moreover, This is only trekking for Milarepa Piren Phu cave, Mu Gompa monastery,Rachen nunnery Gumba Lungdang nunnery,Dheron Gumba nunnery,Health camps,Trash clean-up,School visits,Ganesh amphitheater,Cascading waterfalls,Medicinal plants and herbs (over 50 varieties),Wildlife, including musk deer, Himalayan tahr, blue sheep, ghoral and the elusive snow leopard,Handicrafts, including bamboo baskets, wooden masks and teacups, wood jugs and kitchen implements, musical instrument (dhagen), yak wool blankets, kimonos and mattresses..
The area monks at one point petitioned the government not to allow employees stationed at regional offices to kill animals for Hindu sacrifices or for meat. The government complied, respecting the local traditions and issuing a ban on killing in the area. Any meat must be killed below the gateway and then carried up higher. The peace and protection extends to all beings: as clients joked about yeti attacks, a lama assured us quite seriously that we didn’t need to worry, “Tsum is a protected area, and a yeti will not attack anyone here.”