Belonging and Transformation in Mustang, Nepal


Photo by: Yungdrung Tsewang

Winters in Mustang are freezing cold with temperatures dropping below -4ºC. Life in this part of the Himalayas seems to stop as many people now escape to cities where the climate is warmer. Villages are silent as only one member of the household stays behind to tend to the animals. It is a lonesome time.” —Yungdrung Tsewang

These photographs explore the social, environmental, political, and economic transformation among communities in Mustang, Nepal—situated along the border of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. This region is home to unique high-desert ecologies, contentious geo-political histories, plural medical systems, and well-maintained religious traditions.

Despite Mustang’s reputation as a hidden kingdom, or ‘modern Shangri-La’, the increasing number of young people leaving for employment and educational opportunities abroad the effects of climate change—including unpredictable weather patterns, flooding and landslides, new water-borne diseases, and in some cases the relocation of whole settlements—have drastically changed life in these mountains.

The full photo essay is published online in the open-access Himalaya, Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies here.

Special thanks to the fellow artists: Yungdrung Tsewang, Kory Thibeault, Tshering Gurung, and Yeshi Gurung.