Once the home of the Raja of Mustang, the ruin of the former palace is strategically located astride a hill. It's a steep, short hike up to the palace and although it is now dilapidated, there are great views from here and the small chapel and armoury (now a museum) are open to the public. On display are the blackened, macabre hands that are said to belong to the Master Builder of the palace. As a mark of respect they were cut off after his death and placed there in his honour. Another story says that they were cut off while he was still alive so he would never build another.
Perhaps the true "jewel in the crown" of Charang are the people of Charang, whom are most welcoming and friendly towards vistors. To meet the locals, all you need to do is step outside your guest house and walk around the village. Who knows who you will meet and strike up a conversation with, or get invited into a local home for tea. You'll also discover numerous Stupa's and Chortens too.
Our "local monastery" and around 500 years old. The inner walls of the main temple are painted with murals depicting the deities of the Medicine Buddha mandala. The Ani Gompa to the rear looks like it's falling over a cliff and is in fact a "nunnery".
Just a 30 minute drive, or 2 hour walk away is the ancient Lo Gekar Monastery. Dating back some 1200 years, Lo Gekar is one of the oldest and most important monasteries in Mustang. The interior of the monastery greets the visitor with tiles of Buddha Sakyamuni and Bodhisattvas. The Gonkhang is situated before the main room, the different protectors are covered with sheets and shown only once a year during a special festival. Dozens of butter lamps illuminate the main room, making the many statues even more beautiful. The main statue is Padmasambhava, to each side are his two Yoginis Yeshe Tshogyal and Mandarava. A statue of a Green Tara may also be found in a smaller room.
An hour or less hike from the village to the opposite side of the river leads to some spectacuarly located sky caves hewn out of the cliff face thousands of years ago. Whilst it is not yet fully understood why these caves were built (there are believed to be around 10,000 sky caves in Mustang), it is possible there were initially used as burial chambers, from as early as 1,000 B.C.
In times of conflict they may also have been used as places of safe refuge, then homes and later places of meditation and even military look outs.
Head down to the Kali Gandaki River bed and you might just come across Saligrams (or Shaligrams). if you look hard enough. Saligrams are fossilised Ammonite like sea creatures around 400million to 600 million years old and it's quite something that they are found here 12,000 feet above sea-level! That's because at one time before the Himalayas were formed, Mustang was the sea bed of the Tethys Ocean. To Hindu's Saligrams are an iconic symbol and reminder of the God Vishnu as the Universal Principle
Yes, do pay a visit to our very small village school. The children in particular would be delighted and honoured to meet you and maybe practice their English with you too.
Find out more about Charang School here