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HomeCultureIn Northern Nepal, New Roadways Threaten an Ancient Culture – The Diplomat

In Northern Nepal, New Roadways Threaten an Ancient Culture – The Diplomat

In the desolate and seldom visited region of northern Nepal, not far from the Tibetan Plateau, lies the once forbidden kingdom of Mustang. For centuries, only hardy traders and devout pilgrims were allowed to undertake the arduous journey along the trans-Himalayan desert trail that used to be part of a centuries-old salt route between India and Tibet.

Two generations ago, for Jamyang Wangchuk, a local tradesman on the salt route, it took more than 20 days to reach the capital of Kathmandu from the ancient settlement of Lo Manthang. Wangchuk, now 74, recalls leading a caravan of men, women, and horses, following a deep river gorge, ascending through hardwood and conifer forest, weaving through villages made of mud and stone, and emerging into alpine pasturelands north of the Annapurna range.

For centuries, caravans led by traders like Wangchuk tirelessly roamed the Kali Gandaki gorge for weeks, traveling between regions of China,…

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