Yartung Festival in Manang

Yartung festival in Manang
Yartung festival in Manang

Yartung Festival in Manang, Beautiful village of Manang is not unkown to lovers of Nepal trekking. It lies in elevation of 3,540 m above sea level on the popular Annapurna circuit trek. Manang has around 700 inhabitants. They belong to the ethnic group of Nyeshangbas, living in the upper part of Marshyangadi valley, at 3,000–3,600 m height above the sea level. Not much numerous ethnic speaks their own language and enjoys hundreds years old cultural tradition. Nyeshangbas confess popular form of Tibetan buddhism enriched with local shamanistic tradition. They are proud, strong-minded people, toughned by the life in unhospitable environment below the mountain massifs.

Have you seen the Eric Valli’s Caravan? This beautiful film featuring stunning Himalayan landscape has rather simple though powerful story. It is rivalry between young and old village headmen. While the old insist on departing for annual trade expedition on auspicious date determined by the astrologer, the young want to leave as soon as possible for practical reasons. When some half a year ago I first thought to organize tour to Manang for the Yartung horse racing festival, I didn’t know, that I’ll actually impose the same dilemma on the society of Manang.  by: Michal Thoma.

Cruel winters, scare rainfalls and infertile soil which were unfavourable conditions for agriculture and pasturage – pushed Nyeshangbas into trading with Tibetan salt. Due to the ancient privilage acquired during the unification of Nepalese kingdom at the end of the eighteen century, Nyeshangbas were freed from customs fees; they began to make use of it in the course of the twentieth century. First they expanded their trading activities in Burma, Golden Triangle, Malaysia, Singapure and Hongkong. During the Seventies many Nyeshangbas became one of the most significant traders in Nepal. The number of population in villages decreased as the villagers who were only a bit successful in international trade, preferred moving to Kathmandu.

Nyeshangbas before the traditional house The break in this development came up thanks to the growing interest in adventurous tourism during the Eighties and Nineties. Numerous trekkers arriving in Manang brought new business oportunities to its inhabitants. Many of Manangis even welcomed the possibility to leave smoggy and busy Kathmandu at least for a while, and return to the mountains, where their ancestors came from. They invested quite big capital into construction of new hotels in Manang and its vicinity.

The horse racing festival Yartung is celebrated in Manang for centuries. The custom of Tibetan origin is the exciting exhibition of the horses strength and riders abilities and also authentic expression of the ancient culture of High Himalayas. Traditionally Yartung festival is celebrating a return of horses and other livestock form the high mountain pastures. It’s also opportunity for the men to demonstrate the strength of their horses and their own ability. The winner of the races has to be both fast and skillful as the rider is requested to pick up the khata (silk ritual scarf) from the ground in full gallop. The races, which are held in between Manang and Braga villages, are followed with the interesting and colorful rituals in the local temples. Most people in Manang, both men and women, would wear their traditional dress and nearly all villagers will take some part in the feast.

How to Get Manang Valley:
A 5 day trekking from Syange (1100m) of Lamjung District will take you to the Manang village. There are regular bus services to Besi Sahar from Kathmandu and you took a local jee to Syange (1100m). Manang also has an airstrip but only specific day flight from Pokhara only.

Weather of Annapurna Region:
This being a high-altitude region, temperatures are lower. Winters are usually extreme with snowfall in the higher altitude regions, while summers are cool and temperate during days, but can get cold and chilly at night and during rains. March-May, September-November. Unlike other parts of Nepal, even the monsoon months are ideal to visit upper Mustang that falls in the rain shadow area. Most trekking routes in the Annapurna Region are well serviced by teahouses.

Annapurna Conservation Area and Tims Car Fees:

Conservation Area entrance fee:
Many popular trekking destinations are part of a Conservation Area. For the areas being managed by the National Trust of Nature Conservation you need to obtain an entrance permit in advance of the trek at the office of the National Trust, which is inside the NTB office in Kathmandu and Pokhara. You need to bring a copy of your passport and 1 passport size photograph. The entrance fee is NRs 2000. The areas are:

Trekkers’ Information Management System/TIMS Card
In the trekking areas where a trekking permit is not needed, you need to obtain a TIMS card. These TIMS cards have been introduced to provide a proper record of trekkers in order to increase their safety and security; in case of natural calamities and other accidents the information gathered by TIMS helps to carry out search and rescue operations for trekkers.  There are 2 types of TIMS cards, green cards for independent trekkers (US$ 25) and blue cards for trekkers in an organized group (US$ 10). The TIMS card has to be obtained in advance of the trek. Independent trekkers can obtain their TIMS card at the offices of Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu and Pokhara, TAAN Secretariat at Maligaon in Kathmandu and TAAN Pokhara Secretariat in Pokhara. You need to bring a copy of your passport and 2 passport size photographs and fill in a TIMS application form.

Date of Yartung festival Trek in Manang – 30 July to 03 Aug 2014

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