A Last Look at Shangri-La

New highway soon to bring Mustang into the modern world

Mustang, the former Kingdom of Lo, is hidden in the rain shadow of the Himalayas in one of the most remote corners of Nepal. Hemmed in by the world’s highest mountain range to the south and an occupied and shuttered Tibet to the north, this tiny Tibetan kingdom has remained virtually unchanged since the 15th century. Today, Mustang is arguably the best-preserved example of traditional Tibetan life in the world.

But Mustang is now poised for change. A new highway will soon connect the region to Kathmandu and China for the first time, ushering in a new age of modernity and altering Mustang’s desert-mountain villages forever.

Taylor Weidman and Nina Wegner were granted special permission by the government to travel widely in the restricted area. Together, they have created a book documenting the lifestyle of the region and the difficulties the inhabitants’ culture faces. All proceeds from the book go toward the Vanishing Cultures Project, a nonprofit the two founded that focuses on working alongside indigenous communities to document threatened, traditional lifestyles, increase awareness of indigenous issues, and fund preservation initiatives to empower community leaders. A selection of these images was featured previously on the Big Picture blog. Asia Sentinel’s readers can contribute through the Vanishing Cultures donation page.

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