Meanwhile in Nepal’s highest settlement, time stands still

The people are still involved in subsistence farming, they have almost no connection with the outside world and services such as electricity and health care are nowhere to be seen.

In Dho and Tarap (collectively known as ‘Dho-Tarap), considered the highest inhabited area in Nepal, a few hundred people, most of whom are Tibetan-speaking, lead a life untouched by time.



The villages are situated over 4,000m above sea level. It takes at least five days of trekking to reach the settlement from Dolpa district headquarters, Dunai. Winter, it seems, is the only season the village experiences throughout the year.

The villages spend most of their time grazing their animals and praying. An ancient form of Buddhism is the dominant religion in the area.

The food that the people grow is barely enough for them to sustain. The main activity that sustains life in these villages is the trade in medicinal herbs, including yarsagumba aka the Himalayan Viagra.

Temba Gurung, an independent candidate who recently won the position of Dolpo Buddha Rural Municipality’s Chairman, says the area has a lot of potential for tourism, but it hasn’t been fully utilised yet.


Religion plays a central role in the villages. Men and women are often seen carrying their prayer beads and chanting prayers.

The region’s proximity with the Tibetan Autonomous Region since ancient times has meant that the lifestyle of the people from the north influences those in the south.

The reality of the village sinks in on travellers who reach the village, only when dusk turns into night. Under the star-lit sky, the settlement stands still, and the cracking of a door somewhere far in the village can be heard clearly.

Published on June 14th, Wednesday, 2017 11:19 AM

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1 Comment
  • Tsering Sangmo says: | July 16 2017 9:29am

    Your article is beautifully written about my birth place.Hmm here am sending you some historical background of Dolpo.Originally, the Dolpo region was located in the kingdom of Zhangzhung. Located in western Tibet, this kingdom was strongly connected with the Bön religion. The first Tibetan dynasty (Yarlung) conquered much of the territory that encompasses the Tibetan-speaking world, including Zhangzhung, between the sixth and eighth centuries. Populations migrated from Zhangzhung to areas east and south, including Dolpo; the name for this region first appears in written sources at this time.
    The dominion of the western Tibetan dynasties over Dolpo was eclipsed during the fourteenth century by the principality of Lo (in present-day Mustang District, Nepal). Thereafter, Dolpo villagers paid tributes to the Kingdom of Lo in the form of grains, labor, and religious service. One manner in which Dolpo’s villagers paid their annual taxes was by painting thangka .
    Dolpo was for centuries a relatively independent region in constant economic and cultural interaction with the greater, rivaling political powers that surrounded it. Dolpo was always too rugged, sparsely populated, and distant from the major passes over the Himalaya to become a major political entity: it was instead a pawn in the power struggles of competing kingdoms like Lo and Jumla, which sought control of trade routes across the Himalaya. Pastoralists and farmers living in the trans-Himalayan region were drawn into networks of exchange, cycles that often followed the calendar of religious festivals.
    Nepal, the nation-state that eventually incorporated Dolpo, began taking shape in the mid-1700s when the Gorkha tribes and their leader, Prithvi Narayan Shah, consolidated power, conquered neighbors, and worked their way toward Kathmandu, which they seized in 1769. By 1789, the Gorkhas had extended their territorial control over the economically powerful Kali Gandaki valley and subsumed theKingdom of Lo. Dolpo thus became the Gorkhas’ when Lo relinquished political power over the Kali Gandaki and surrounding regions.
    Tremendous displacements have marked the experience of Dolpo’s communities over the past fifty years: the assertion of Chinese authority over Tibet (and subsequent restrictions on the traffic of people, animals, and goods across its borders); the expansion of communications and transportation infrastructure in Nepal (which opened these remote villages to new goods and people, altering economics and crossing cultures); and the rise of modern nation-states like the People’s Republic of China and Nepal (with their attendant visions of development for their peripheral populations).
    After the 1960s, Dolpo was no longer as isolated or self-governing as it once was: its autonomy was bounded when the Chinese closed the borders of Tibet. Across the Tibet phenomenon. External forces, including the creation of Nepal’s largest national park, Shey Phoksundo, and the making of the major motion picture, Himalaya, have introduced new elements of social and economic change to the people of Dolpo. There are various books about Dolpo too.


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