Upper Mustang folks travel to lowland areas to avoid cold

PARBAT: Most of the villages in Upper Mustang are almost empty these days due to the seasonal migration of local residents.

As the winter season sets in Upper Mustang, people pack their luggage and move to warmer areas in the lower valleys. The Upper Mustang folks temporarily migrate to the lower valleys to avoid the biting cold. They reside in lowland for at least four months. They have been routinised for the winter migration with the arrangements of logistics to make an escape from the adverse weather.

During the course of travel, they reach various parts of the country and engage in peddling business for their livelihood.

Myanmi Gurung of Chhonhup has arrived in Kushma of Parbat for trade as part of the seasonal migration. Almost all except aged people have left the village with the beginning of winter. They have brought locally manufactured garments, local spices and herbs for sale.

Agricultural production is limited in Upper Mustang. Cultivation of limited crops like barley, wheat, buckwheat and potatoes is done at a moderate scale there, said Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) project Chief Santosh Sherchan. They complete the harvest by the second week of October so that they can leave the village before the winter takes its toll on them.

Jhyali Gurung of Chhoser said settlements in Upper Mustang are like desert lands these days. People of Lomanthang, Ghami, Chhoser, Surkhang and Chhonhup do businesses of goods entered into the country via the Korala transit point at Nepal-Tibet border and locally produced commodities.

Only those people who are unable to leave their homes due to various reasons including health and age issues remain in the villages.

Schools based in the Upper Mustang also run mobile classes in several places of Pokhara targeting the (temporarily) migrated children.

In this season, an individual from Upper Mustang earns from Rs 200,000 to Rs 500,000 from the peddling trade. They return home purchasing daily essentials including foodstuffs sufficient for summer from such income. They travel to Parbat, Myagdi, Baglung, Kaski, Gorkha, Tanahu and other parts of the country in course of peddling.

Lomanthang-based National Basic School has said it has been preparing to run mobile classes in Pokhara. As Mustang Chief District Officer Ganga Bahadur Chhetri said, the Mustang folks do not hesitate to do any sort of business, either big or a small one during the winter migration.