Jomsom is a beautiful city located in Kaligandaki Valley of Mid-Western Nepal. It lies in the trans-Himalayan region of Annapurna and sits at the base of Mt.Nilgiri and Dhaulagiri. Jomsom is a well-equipped town of Lower Mustang region and often referred to as the Gateway to Upper Mustang.
The name Jomsom originated from Tibetan word “Dzong Sampa”, which translate to “New Fort”. King Thang Mig Chen of Thini established the fort to monitor the movement of people on the north-south trade route. The fort and the town was built near the trade route. The locals later called the place Dzong Sampa and gradually people visiting the place started to pronounce as “Jomsom”.
Jomsom is cut off in two halves by Kali Gandaki, the deepest gorge in the world. The town of Jomsom is situated at either bank of the Kali Gandaki river in Mustang. The altitude of Jomsom is 2,760 meters above sea level. Jomsom falls inside the Annapurna Conservation Area. The Jomsom area falls on the rain shadow of Annapurna range, thus remains dry for 6 months in a year.
Some facts and things to do in Jomson
Jomson sits on the banks of Kaligandaki Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world:
Jomsom sits on the bank of Kali Gandaki river which is also a gorge. The Kali Gandaki gorge is the deepest gorge in the world. The canyon is one of the major tourist attraction of Jomsom.
The gorge separates major peaks, Dhaulagiri (8,167m) on the west and Annapurna (8,091) on the east. Kali Gandaki gorge has been used as a trade route between Nepal and Tibet for centuries. Today, the path is used as a trekking route from Pokhara to Muktinath
Dhumba Lake is a green water lake that sits at the base of Mt. Nilgiri. The lake is sacred for Buddhists. Locals have fenced the lake with traditional prayer flags to restrict visitors from entering and tampering with the lake water. There is an interesting story about the sacred lake. Legends say that one day suddenly, the lake water turned blood red. Long after, Tibetan Buddhists performed religious ceremonies, and the lake returned to its former green waters.
The water of Dhumba lake is green in colour, thus called the green gem of Mustang. Locals come to worship and pray in the lake for a better future. Consuming fish from the pond is prohibited and considered as a sin.
Mountain Biking and Rock Climbing
Jomsom, vastly equipped with dry terrains and barren hills, is a rousing destination for Mountain Bikers and Cyclists. Many professional bikers come to Jomsom to conquer the steep slopes. Tourists nowadays bring their professional mountain bikes and make videos of them riding through challenging hill slopes. Mountain Biking is fast becoming a daily activity for tourist in Jomsom.
You can also try rock climbing in Jomsom. The lifeless vertical climb of nearby hills serves as heaven for rock climbers. The surrounding of Jomsom would be perfect for hosting either of Mountain Bike and Rock Climbing Competition.
Thakali and Tibetan Inhabitants
The people living in Jomsom are mostly from Thakali and Tibetan background. The people are descendants of their predecessors and have lived in the region since ancient times. The ancient culture, traditions and lifestyle are showcased in quaint villages made of stone and woods. The major economic activities are agriculture, livestock, tourism and labor in foreign countries.
The people have adapted unique way to survive in a cut off destination. People use wood for the fire, store wood in rooftops, graze cattle for milk and meat.
Muktinath is a sacred temple for Buddhist and Hindu followers. Located in Mustang Valley at an altitude of 3,710 meters, this holy temple lies in the foothills of Thorong La mountain pass. The Buddhists call Muktinath Chumming Gyatsa, which in Tibetan means “Hundred Waters”.
Muktinath temple has Hindu origin but also carries significance for Buddhist followers. A revered Buddhist guru Padmasambhava meditated in the area of Muktinath temple. Thus Buddhist followers from all over the world visit Muktinath temple. Hindu followers believe bathing in the waters from the taps of Muktinath clears away the sins of life. Many followers visit just to bathe in the freezing waters of Muktinath to erase their previous life mistakes and start a new chapter of their life.
Rupse Fall is a beautiful waterfall on the way to Jomsom. The fall is about 2-hour drive far from Jomsom. It is a resting point for many local and foreign tourists. The Rupse fall is more than 300 meters tall. The fall slides through steep rocky hills. The fall is small during the summer and winter but increases about ten folds during the monsoon season. Many travellers opt the Beni-Jomsom highway just to visit this exquisite fall on the way to Jomsom.
Mustang Eco Museum
Established in 1992, the Mustang Eco Museum displays various aspects of culture and nature of Mustang areas, such as Buddhist monastery, Herbarium, animal specimen, traditional dress, and artwork. Other features of the museum are excellent views of Jomsom, Thini village and Mt. Nilgiri. A guided tour of the museum, library and video shows all traditional and cultural background of Mustang, Tibet and Nepal in general. The museum is about five minutes walk far south from the Jomsom airport.
Hotel Bob Marley
Hotel Bob Marley is a famous hotel in the Muktinath region. This local restaurant has paintings and art related to famous singer Bob Marley all over the walls. The restaurant is a widely visited place by local and international tourists.
The hotel also has accommodation facilities, about 25 rooms, delicious food choices and a bit of funky feel about the place. Make sure to visit this hub once on your trip to Jomsom.
The capital of Lower Mustang
Mustang was a separate nation until 1992, called as the Kingdom of Mustang and also had an independent king. The kingdom was divided into two parts, Upper Mustang and Lower Mustang. Jomsom lies in Lower Mustang and was also the capital of Lower Mustang. Not many people know this because travellers only focus on travelling the Upper Mustang Region, The Forbidden Kingdom.
The geography of Jomsom and Upper Mustang resembles each other to a certain extent. Both locations fall on the rain shadow of Annapurna Range and have a dry and windy climate.
Snowfalls in Winter Season
Jomsom sits at just 2,760 meters but sees plenty of snow in the winter season. This region falls in the rain shadow area but winter season brings several feet of snow. Jomsom lies in between Nilgiri and Dhaulagiri mountains and behind the trans-Himalayan range of Annapurna and Machhapuchre. As Jomsom lies in between mountains, snowfall is widespread in the winter season.
Several feet of snow blocks transportation facilities to Jomsom in winter, making aeroplane flight the only viable option for transport during winter.
Visit Kagbeni, the windiest place in Nepal
Kagbeni is the windiest place of Nepal. The force of the wind in Kagbeni rivals that of a medium scaled hurricane. Kagbeni lies about three hours from Jomsom on the way to Muktinath. This windy place in the Kaligandaki Valley has ancient monasteries and museums that have stored Tibetan culture and traditions.