Dolpo or Dolpa?

It may arise a question in your mind, Dolpo or Dolpa? But it is very simple, that in Tibetan language Tolbo was permuted into Dolpo and people inhabitant in Upper Dolpo region is called Dolpo Pa. Later on, Dolpo is turned into Dolpa. These days Dolpa and Dolpo both are popular. Especially Dolpo is popular among foreigners and Dolpa famous among Nepalese people.

Dolpo is the largest district of Nepal, and one of the ten districts of province No. 6. Dunai is the district headquarters of Dolpo. Recently the federal system, Dolpo comprises two municipalities and 4 villages Development Committee.

Geographical or Physical Setting

Dolpo covers an area of 7,889 km2 ,   which is the 5.36% of the total landmass of the country and the elevation ranges from Tribeni ( 1,525) to Churen Himal ( 7,625 m). The district is bordering with,  Tibet ( China) on the north and northeast, Jumla and Mugu districts of Karnali on the west, MyagdiJajarkot and Rukum on the south, and Mustang on the east.




On the basis of elevation range, Dolpo is divided into two distinct levels like Lower Dolpo and Upper Dolpo. Lower Dolpo comprises altitude below 3000m, whereas Upper Dolpo is on above 3000m.  Dolpo is lying in the rain shadows of Dhaulagiri, Churen Himal, Kajiruba Himal, and Tibetan plateau that is why annual precipitation is normally less than 500 millimeters. The southern slopes of Himalayan range temperatures 10C to 30C whilst the Northern Great Himalayan range from 15C to -10C.During the monsoon, temperatures rarely below freezing except in the highest meadows.

Culture and Religion

Sparsely populated Dolpo, is the home of multi-cultural inhabitants and the followers of Hinduism and Shamanism, Bon and Tibetan Buddhism. Though the Dolpo is divided in two part ‘Lower Dolpo and Upper Dolpo’ we comprehend on three parts; Lower Belt, Middle Belt and Upper Belt based on culture and tradition.

Lower Dolpo is majorly dominated by Khasan people purely Hinduism and Shamanism followers have their Khasan culture. The Khasan valley is the garden of Hindu casts such as Brahmin, Kshetries, Thakuries, and others. They celebrate Hindu major festivals like Dashain, Deepawali, Janai Purnima, Maghe Sangkranti, and Shaman festivals like Sauna Puni, Bhadau Puni, and Kartik Puni.

But on the middle range of Dolpo ‘Kaike Village Development Committee’ is the home of Magar ethnic people commonly known as ‘Tarali Magar’ or ‘Ticherongba’. They celebrate their own indigenous festival Rung, Chaitee, Keja, Yacha etc. By worshiping their ancestor god ‘Chyopata’ similarly, they are also followers of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon.

On the highland area of Dolpo, ‘Upper Dolpo’ comprises the numbers of Dolpo Pa people, who have their own culture and tradition since long history. As close to the Tibet border they have close cultural and religious tie up with Tibet. Inhabitants of this climatic zone are purely Bon and Tibetan Buddhism followers. The valley consisting numbers of Bon and Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries which are century old, and where some of holy Lamas had enlightened through solitary meditation and heritage. They celebrate festivals like; Buddha Jayanti, Sonam Lhosar, Shey Festival, Ngungne, Chhechyu etc. Animal husbandry and agriculture supported along with the trans-human and trans-Himalayan trade was major sinesis of their livelihood.However, this trend is in changing due to the high valued fungus Cordyceps Sinensis ‘Yarsagumba’.

Shey gonpa

Getting into Dolpo

One popular way of getting in Dolpo is through air flights from Nepalgunj to Juphal and other ways are either by walking or by helicopter charter. Until the now Dolpo is not linked by motorable road with the other district.

Trekking season In Dolpo

Since much Dolpo rests in the rain shadow of Dhaulagiri, effects of the monsoon are not as extreme as experienced as another part of the country. So, it is possible to trek in spring, summer, autumn. In the winter notoriously cold and with very heavy snowfalls blocks the high passes, so December to spring is avoided for trekking. Even though the best seasons for trekking is in autumn i.e September, October, and November.


Trekking route in Dolpo

Trekking in Dolpo offers various trekking itineraries; lowland to highland, trekking within the Dolpo, and trekking to cross-border districts. Lower Dolpo itineraries like Lower Dolpo Circuit trek, Lower Dolpo Featured Trek, Lower Dolpo Exploring Trek are exploring and discovering trip for Lower Dolpo region. Trekking Itineraries, Dolpo Immersion Trek, Inner Dopo Trek and Dolpo Exploring Trek are the trekking itineraries which takes around the Lower and Upper Dolpo. However, Upper Dolpo Upper Mustang Trek, Upper Dolpo Upper Mustang Ghami Trek, Upper Dolpo Rara Trek, Lower Dolpo Rara Trek, Upper Dolpo Jomsom Trek and Dolpo Beni Trek are cross-border district itineraries.


Mountaineering In Dolpo

Dolpo is famous for long, challenging and strenuous adventure trek. Only a few people can imagine that there are also very interesting peaks and summits to climbing. Including the easiest climbing above 7000m peak and other several unclimbed and virgin summits are found in Dolpo.

If you are keen to climb above 6000m and below 7000m then Dolpo could offer a wonderful Peaks climbing opportunity. Araniko Chuli  (6034m) in Mustang enables a fine transverse from Lo Manthang to Chharka. Mukot Himal (6087m) opens a new access route from Marpha and Hidden Valley. Norbung Kang (6085m) and Kanta Gatan (5910m), are in between Dho Tarap and Phoksundo.

On the Northernmost frontiers of Dolpo, Mariyang (6528m), Swaska Kang (6405m) and Danphesail (6103m) are awaiting. For an admirer of altitude, Putha Hiunchuli (7246m), is an easy peak of Nepal. Then to the east Churen Himal (7371m) and Dhaulagiri range are towering for experienced Mountaineers.

To the west of Dolpo mystical Kanjiruba Sanctuary, the peaks of Kade Hiunchuli (6627m), Patrasi (6450m), Tso Karpo Kang (6556m) She-Shikhar (6139m) Kanjiruba North(6313m) and Kanjiruba Southa (6883m) are permitted for climbers.



  Explorer of Dolpa

Dolpa was closed for foreigner till 1989 but before that, some people were traveled over there. In 1890 a renowned Japanese monk Ekai Kawaguchi was passed through the Dolpa on his way Tibet which was roughly surveyed in the 1920s by two cartographers working on a survey of India. Then after a Long time a Westerner Buddhist scholar David Snellgrove traveled Dolpa region with taking especial permit from Nepal government in 1956 and he published a book “Himalayan Pilgrimage”. Then after strong forceful demand of tourism entrepreneurs of Nepal obliged to government open the area for tourists. After long forceful and debate, H.M government agreed to open the area from 1989.Then after lots of westerners had been explored Dolpo in Western world. Toni Hagen was the earlier visitor in Dolpo. Then after Christoph Von Furer-Haimendrof (Himalayan Trader), Peter Matthiessen( The snow Leopard), George B. Schaller(Stones of Silence), James Fishere (Trans-Himalayan trader),  Kenneth M. Beur (High Frontiers), Cornell Jest (Tarap), Eric Valli( Himalaya), Nicolas sihle & Marietta Kind (Bon Practioner), Dr. Harka Gurung (Vignettes Of Nepal), Karna shakya (Hidden land Dolpa).