The Tsum Valley is a sacred Himalayan Budhhist pilgrimage valley situated in northern Gorkha, Nepal.
Tsum Valley was a restricted area until it was opened for trekking in 2008 and there is a little information available on the area. Literally “Tsum” means vivid against the majestic backdrop of the Ganesh Himal, Sringi Himal and Boudha Ranges, this serene Himalayan valley is rich in ancient art, culture and religion. The local people are mostly of Tibetan origin and speak unique dialect. Trails are strewn with artistic Chortens and lined with Mani walls made of thousands of stone slabs carved with drawings of deities and inscribed with prayers. The famous Kyimu Lung, a pilgrimage circuit in the central Trans-Himalaya, is well known for its center of learning and meditation. This circuit traverses the Tsum Valley the Manaslu area in Nepal, and southern parts of Tibet. The Tsum Valley has long history of Buddhism. The Buddhist saint Milarepa is believed to be meditated in the caves of these mountains. Traditionally, the valley was a culturally distinct geographical called “Tsum Tso Chuksum”, which means thirteen provinces ruled as a single territory. The ancient remains of the Tsum Kingdom are still visible today. Due to its remoteness and inaccessibility, this sacred valley and its people have been bypassed by mainstream development for centuries. As a result, the unique culture of this valley has remained intact. The valley is drained by the Shear Khola, which originates from the western glacier of Ganesh Himal and east and southern glaciers of Sringi Himal and meets the Budhi Gandaki at Nyak. The valley is uniquely rich in wildlife, especially the Himalayan Thar and Blue Sheep which congregates in herds of 50 to 200. Hunting, fishing is not permitted in the Tsum Valley. The valley also boasts some unique and historic monasteries, including Rachen Gompa and Mu Gompa, which lie on a pretty plateau nestled in the lap of the valley and Gompa Lungdang, situated at the base of a conical hill against the main slope of Ganesh Himal.
Duration: 15 Day Trek
Access: 6 hour drive.
Starting Altitude: 570 m or 1,880 feet
Peak Altitude: 3700m or 12,210 feet
People and Religion in Tsum Valley
The local people are mostly of Tibetan origin and speak a unique dialect. Even these days, some families practice polyandry (or having more than one husband at a time). These families have been found to be well managed and wealthier than other families. A long history of Buddhism can be seen. The Buddhist saint named Milarepa is believed to have meditated in a cave in these mountains. It is believed that there is a favorable ambience for fortunate events in this region. The people in Tsum have a strong faith in Buddhism. They pray to Buddha, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) and some bodhisattvas. They install Prayer Flags, Khata, or Mani walls, burn butter lamps in monasteries and believe in the reincarnation of Lamas. The histories and way of life of supernatural entities and stories about them are well-known. Nevertheless Prayer Flags, Khata, or Mani walls are installed and ritual burning of juniper is performed to purify an area against such supernatural entities. The people of Tsum perform numerous rituals and festivals against devil entities. However, the slaughtering of animals on an altar to honor deities does not occur. A few laymen and Lamas practice some special rites to exorcise evil factors. Local people practice mainly two types of astrology “Black” and “White” for the determination of auspicious days.
Festival in Tsum Valley
Numerous festivals, several mask dances and rituals are celebrated throughout the year in the Tsum Valley preserving the century old practices. Loshar:- LO means year and SHAR means new, the Tibetan word meant of Happy Loshar (Tibetan New Year) celebrated according to the Tibetan Lunar Calendar offering large quantities of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and protectors. Tsumbas of the lower Tsum Valley celebrate Loshar earlier than the upper Tsum people. Dhachyang (The horse Festival):-The second most important festival of this region is celebrated on a slightly different date than the normal Dec/Jan. Committed to the welfare of the people, it is celebrated by the active male participants holding horse races leaving women to join in the evening for dancing and singing. Happy Saka Dawa:- The full moon day of Saka Dawa commemorates Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and Parinirvana. As cited by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in the Vinaya text Treasure of Quotations and Logic, virtuous actions done on this day (fall in May) are multiplied one hundred million times. Rituals are performed at local monasteries and nunneries and the devotees take fasting during this time. Faning:- In mid-August with nutritious and yummy, this festival commemorates the attainment of internal energy from any food, including water.
Itinerary in detail
See the Overall Tour Summary for details on itinerary for before and after your selected trek.
Day 1: Trek from Arughat to Liding 860m/5hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 2: Trek from Liding to Machha Khola 930m/5hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 3: Trek from Machha Khola to Jagat 1370m/6hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 4: Trek from Jagat to Lokpa 2240m/6hours (Entrance to Tsum Valley). Overnight at tented camp.
Day 5: Trek from Lokpa to Chumling 2386m/7hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 6: Trek from Chumling to Chhokangparo 3031m/5hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 7: Trek from Chhokangparo to Chule-Nile 3361m/5hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 8: Trek from Chule-Nile to Mu Gompa 3700m/3hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 9: Trek from Mu Gompa to Rachen Gompa 3240m/5hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 13: Trek from Rachen Gompa to Dhumje 2460m/6hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 10: Trek from Dhumje to Gompa Lungdan 3200m/4hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 11: Trek from Gompa Lungdan to Ripchet 2470m/6hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 12: Trek from Ripchet to Doban 1070m/8hours (Exit from Tsum Valley). Overnight at tented camp.
Day 13: Trek from Doban to Soti Khola 730m/6hours. Overnight at tented camp.
Day 14: Trek from Soti Khola to Arughat 570m/6hours by Land Cruiser. Overnight at tented camp.