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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrManaslu, also known as 'Kutang' is located in the Northern Himalayas or the Mansiri Himal in Nepal, and is the 8th highest peak in the world. Rising up to a stupendous altitude of 8,156 meters, its highest peak lies in the Lamjung District of Nepal, which is nearly 64 kilometers from the Annapurna Range. Known for its awesome valley, glaciers, and extended ridges, this mountain provides easy access from all four directions. The ridges and glaciers culminated in this terrain forms the lofty Manaslu peak which looks both imposing and impressive when viewed from a distance. There are lots of trekking options in the Manaslu Mountains and the most popular 177 km long trek route known as the ‘Manaslu Circuit’ circumnavigates the peak to reach the Manaslu pass at the Annapurna base. Like other parts of Nepal, Nepali, and Tibetan are widely spoken over here while guides and porters will surely be able to communicate in English because of the tourist influx in these territories.
History and ExpeditionsThe name ‘Manaslu’ is derived from the Sanskrit word, ‘Manasa’ meaning ‘soul’ or ‘intellect’ and can be translated as ‘Mountain of the Spirit’. The Tibetan name of the mountain- ‘Kutang’ is derived from the Tibetan word ‘Tang’ which means ‘a flat place’.
In the year 1950, H.W. Tilman along with J.O.M. Roberts reached the Larkya Pass , which lies at an altitude of 5,016 meters and came to the conclusion that a direct route must lead to the Manaslu summit. Yuko Maki led an expeditionary team in 1956, when Toshio Imanishi from Japan and the Sherpa Gyaltsen Norbu reached the summit for the first time on 9th of May, 1956. In the same year, a scholar of Tibatan culture, David Snellgrove, reached as far as the Larkya La via the Buri Gandaki along the Bumtang River . Later on, in May 1971, Motoki and Kazuharu Kohara led an expedition of a Japanese team which successfully reached the summit via the spur in the North West.
Nevertheless, the Korean expedition in 1971 resulted in the death of its leader.
The Austrians made their first successful attempt at climbing the mountain in 1972, in an expedition led by Wolfgang Nairz. Two climbers from Yugoslavia who attempted to scale the peak died in an accident in the year 1983.
The first successful Polish attempt at climbing the summit was made in the winter of 1983-84. In 1986, the Polish climber, Jerry Kukuczka, used a different route to reach the summit without using any supplementary oxygen.
A new route was opened in 1986 by a joint expedition by Poland and Mexico. The first American assent was made in 1997 by Charlie Mace.
In 2001, a Ukrainian team successfully reached the peak via the south east part which is the most challenging of all its routes.
In 2006, Sue Fear, an Australian climber met her death by slipping into a crevasse while descending. Arjun Vajpai of India became the youngest climber in the world who scaled the peak in 2011, at the age of 18.
However in 2012, eleven climbers died in an avalanche while climbing this peak.
Flora and FaunaThe Manaslu Mountains and the surrounding valley is home to many wild and endangered species like snow leopards, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan musk deer, lynx, pandas, blue sheep, gray wolf, Himalayan goral, horseshoe bat, mainland serrow, and others. This mountain also houses more than 110 different species of birds, 11 kinds of butterflies and more than 33 mammals. The monasteries and monks in this land are very concerned about the preservation of wild life in this area and their constant vigilance and a ban on hunting has greatly helped the process of the conservation of both flora and fauna in these territories. Some of the rare birds, which inhabit this region include the Eurasian griffon, the Himalayan eagle, the Koklass pheasants, impeya , blood the crimson horned pheasant, and the Tibetan snow cocks.
The lower slopes, the middle mountains, and the highest slopes of this mountain have three different kinds of vegetation, which tend to overlap in their transition zones. The valley, which exhibits rich Eco tone diversity, consists of 19 different kinds of forests in this landmark. The Himalayan blue pine and the Rhododendron are the two most commonly found species of plants in this area. On average, this mountain is home to nearly 1,500-2,000 different species of plants. Aromatic herbs and medicinal plants can also be found in abundance on this mountain.
Trekking in the Manaslu CircuitThe Manaslu Circuit Trek, which takes roughly 14 days, takes you through an exhilarating route where you will come across beautiful temples and monasteries, protected wildlife, gushing streams, wild flowers, and Rhododendrons, precarious hanging bridges, and breathtaking scenic beauty. October is the best time for the trek and one should avoid the rainy seasons at all costs. A trekking group is required to obtain a restricted area permit, which costs $ 50 USD a week from a registered trekking operator, as individual travelers are not allowed to trek in this zone.
In addition, one also needs two permits for entering the national parks and another permit for general trekking while travelling to Manaslu. The Manaslu trek starts from Arughat , which can be reached by car from Kathmandu in 5-6 hours. The thirteen halts on this Manaslu route provide basic accommodation, while you always have the option of camping on the way. The trek will take you through the historic salt trade route along the beautiful river of Buri Gandaki which is located on the route. One can also view the lofty snow peak of Manaslu from Ligaon.
The path to Manaslu will take you through the pine covered Syala village, which will lead to the beautiful Samagaon village at the base of Manaslu. From there, one can reach the highest village in this area, the Samdo village, in half a day. This village offers a superb view of the Manaslu valley, the picturesque village of Pang Phuchi, with the Tibetan border as a backdrop. From here, another day’s trek will lead to the Larkha La valley. On the way to the Larkha La valley, one can see the massive peaks of the Himlung Himal, Cheo Himal, and the Kang Guru along with a few glimpses of the majestic Annapurna mountain range.
From Larkha La valley, the pastureland of Bimdakhoti ot Bimtang which commands a great view of the Manaslu, can be reached within a few days.
After Bimdakhoti ot Bimtang, one can reach the small town of Besisahar which has good accommodation facilities to be reached via Tilje and Jagat.
There are also two alternative routes used by travelers, one from the Annapurna trail via Manang, Thorong La and Kali Gandaki Valley or Jomson, from where buses and flights to Pokhara are available.
The other routes starts from the Gorkha Bazar which will take you though Larpak, from where you can join the main trail.
Useful Tips for TrekkersOne of the primary hazards of this area, which can lead to sickness is its high altitude. Therefore, it’s always recommended that one shouldn’t scale great heights quickly but take a day or two for acclimatizing at Samdo, Samagaon, and Larkya Phedi. Donkeys constantly ply this route and head on collision with descending donkeys and mules has, also at times, resulted in a few deaths. So one should be alert for the sound of the bells of the donkey and make sure that they walk on the hill side. There are also instances where trekkers have been thrown off trail by the wind so one should be equipped with proper clothing while undergoing this trek. If you are trekking in winter, then you will surely come across snow, ice, and frozen streams at the Larkya La Pass. Trekking boots with mini spikes can be of help in these times which will significantly increase the grip and lower the risks of slipping while walking on this trek.
How to Reach thereOne can reach the starting point of Manaslu trek, which is Arughat, from Kathmandu in a bus, SUV or jeep. From Kathmandu, one can also take a car to Gorkha Bazar, which is another starting point for this trek. While descending from Manaslu, one can either choose to take a bus to Kathmandu from Besisahar, or one can make the journey to Pokhara from Besisahar or Jomson.
Similar Places of InterestTrekkers to the Manaslu Circuit must make a trip to the picturesque little town of Pokhara, which is also the base camp for trekkers awaiting to trek the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
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Author: SubhasishMitra. Last updated: Dec 08, 2014