Located on the Northern flank of Gorkha district, ”Tsum Valley” is one of the Hidden Himalayan valley of Nepal. On the foothill of Shringi Himal, Langju Himala and Ganesh Himal, this valley is an ideal place to trek for Himalayan lover who is seeking to trek with avoiding high altitude above 4000m.
Tsum valley is a most sacred and magical beyul and only one ‘non-violence’ zone of Nepal. People living in this valley are followers of Tibetan Buddhism, and primarily Tibetan origin, killing and slaughtering of animals is strictly prohibited in the valley. Hence, wildlife such as Himalayan Thar and Blue Sheep roaring around villages. Tsum valley constitute in to two section which are Lower Tsum Valley and Upper Tsum valley. Lower Tsum Valley start from Lokpa to Chumling and Upper Tsum Valley start from Chhekampar to Nile and Chule. Tsum valley is most remote area of Gorkha districts. The Tsum Valley was restricted to foreigner until 2008.Tsum valley is home to 18 small villages and people living Tsum valley an ethnic group known as ‘Tsumbas’.
Tsum Valley is surrounded by soaring Himalayan peaks, including the Baudha Himal and Himal Chuli to the west, Ganesh Himal to the South and Sringi Himal to the north. The northern terminus of the valley is bounded by three high passes to Tibet, including Ngula Dhoj Hyang (5093 m.) to the east and Thapla Pass (5326 m.) to the west. All travel Tsum valley is done on foot along time-worn trails that stretches through lush forests, the long carved Mani walls, Chorten, Knis and beautiful villages.
Getting in Tsum Valley
Tsum valley trek start from Soti Khola a small town of Gokrha district, to the north of Arughat is about 130km from Kathmandu. There is no airport in Tsum valley and even no motorable roads upto now. Hence, getting in to Tsum valley is take a bus from Kathmandu to Arughat and then local Jeep to Soti Khola or Machha Khola. Another way to get in Sotikhola is by private jeep.
After getting at Soti Khola or Machha Khola, and then the begins along the Budi Gandaki river for few days via Khorlabesi, Tatopani, Dovan, Yaru Bagar, Philim, Tekle Bhatti, Chisapani and Lokpa. From Lokpa there two ways one trail leads to Manaslu circuit trek and another leads to Tsum valley trek.
Following the Tsum valley trail, along the lush vegetation, crossing the many suspension bridges and a rock holding cantilever bridge all the way to Lokpa, Chumling and then Chhokampar. Chhekampar is gateway to Upper Tsum Valley. Upper Tsum valley comprises many villages such as Chhekampar, Leru, Lama Gaon, Burji, Phurbe, Chule and Nile.
What to see or things to visit in Tsum Valley
People of “Tsumba” practices Tibetan Buddhism. As Tsum valley is scared place there many age old ancient Buddhist Monasteries and visiting these age old ancient monasteries is worthwhile visit during Tsum valley Trek.
Milerepa’s cave (Piren Phu)
Milerepa Cave is located in up rocky foothills near by Burji village. A row of stupa are found near the retreat, which has two main chapels and two cave features. One major attraction to visit this cave is Milerepa’s footprints and meditation place. It is also know as Piren Phu or Pigeon’s cave.
Rachen Nunnery and Mu Gompa
Rachen Nunnery and Mu gompa were established in 1936 by Dukpa Rinpoche, a lharama geshe from Tibet, who meditated in the caves dotted along the rim of the valley. His incarnation, the present Dukpa Rinpoche continued to take care of the nunnery and monastery till in 2002, when he requested Lama Zopa Rinpoche to take the nunnery and Mu gompa, further up the valley, under his care.
Dukpa Rinpoche had been asked by the previous Karmapa to dedicate his life to spreading the Dharma in the Himalayas, and to establish the Nyungne practice and Mani mantra retreat. He was also dedicated to inspire the villagers to refrain from harming other sentient beings, especially the animals, by not hunting them any longer. Although his great task prevented him from spending more time at his monastery and nunnery in Tsum, still he was able to provide a true sanctuary for those who wanted to dedicate their life to the Dharma.
Side trip to Bhajyo Thapla Bhanjyang and Ngula Dhojyang La Pass (5093m)
If you are interested to explore northern border side of Tsum valley, then you most have expedition style trek. Because after Mu Gompa there is no human settlement.
The side trip to the border side is, Mu Gompa to Bhajyo (3-4 hours),
Bhajyo to Ngula Dhojyang Pass(5093m) and return (8-9 hours)
Other high passes to Tibet
From west of Kulung the trail leads to Thapla Pass (5104m), you can explore around Kulung and Chhekya areas.
Food and accommodation in Tsum Valley trek
Few years ago Tsum valley trek used to be an expedition style trek. Where logistic arrangement arrangement with full supportive staffs. But now there are enough tea houses are available. However, if you would like trek further north from Mu Gompa then there must be expedition style trek.
Food in teahouse has a variety of menus, most of them with vegetarian base. In case of accommodation there are twin bed in every room with good matters.
Wi-fi and Telephone Network
There are pre-paid facilities of Wi-fi in many places and incase of Telephone, VSAT mobile network works almost every places of Tsum Valley. GSM mobile network Nepal Telecom does not work in every places. However, there are VSAT telephones are available in every teahouses.
Side trip to Gumba Lungdang and Ganesh Himal Base Camp
The side trip for Gumba Lungdang and Gane Himala base camp is wonderful trip during Tsum valley trek. This side trip leads through Domje village, about 3 hours climp up to Gumba Lungdang along the lush vegetation and magnificent view of Ganesh Himal, Manaslu, and Voke peak (4617m).One night stay in Gumba Lungdanga and next day trek upto Ganesh Himal basecamp and return to Dumje and trek to Rupchet village would be very nice.
Finally, Tsum is a very old Buddhist region, close to Tibet, with a long Dharma history, and blessed by meditators, such as Padmasambhava, Milarepa and many others. It is a most conducive place for practice and a special place to attain liberation in this lifetime.
Hence, trekking in this sacred valley could be your Life time experience of Himalay.
Happy Holidays in Himalaya!