The Red Monastery is the highlight of Kagbeni.
Kagbeni, a beautiful village, lies in the Mustang District of Himalayas, in Nepal. Considered as one of the oldest villages in the Himalayas, it is also a gateway to Upper Mustang. Kagbeni is listed in many itineraries, as trails of trekking expeditions like Annapurna Base Camp, trip to Muktinath and Mustang goes through this treasured village. Therefore, the corners and alleys of this village hold delightful memories of trekkers and travelers making their stop to rest and spend a day before resuming their expedition.
It stands at the upstream of Kali Gandaki, on the way to Lo Manthang. The ‘Kag’ translates to ‘Ghag’ meaning ‘center’ as it does lie in the central region to Jomsom and Muktinath, and ‘Beni’ translates to the intersection of two rivers, as this village lies in the banks of Kali Gandaki and Jhong Rivers. To explore the north of Kagbeni, travelers require Upper Mustang Permit. However, one can easily explore another region of Kagbeni and then trek back to Jomsom.
The rural settlement in Kagbeni village gives you a ride into the local lifestyle of Nepalese people living in the Himalayan region. Thatched roof houses packed from mud and stacked from stone, the sound of broom early every morning gives us the picture of how people are still living in the rural setting apart and far away from the city area.
Mythology in Hinduism says that Kagbhusundi meditated here upon receiving advice from Saptarishis, therefore this place was named Kagbeni. However, the actual ethnic aspect of the village is dominated by the Tibetan religion. Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling Monastery, also known as the Red Monastery is a distinguished spot to visit here. The friendly monks of the monastery will never miss out to give you a warm welcome and give you a tour inside with various sculptures of Buddha. Various Tibetan artifacts and worship ceremonies can also be observed inside the monastery.
Walking past the houses, the travelers can see the calming picture of widespread landscapes, green and yellow plots used for growing buckwheat, barley, and grains. The view of the landscape collides with the horizon where the blue sky starts. The village does have several guest houses, coffee shops, and popular accommodation facilities that are reserved in advance by agencies. The breathtaking and aesthetic look of the town gives the travelers a beautiful spot to stop and relax and add another beautiful memory to their travel expedition.
The easiest way to reach Kagbeni is to take a 20-minutes flight from Pokhara to Jomsom and then a drive on a private jeep from there to Kagbeni. It is about 1-hour ride from Jomsom to Kagbeni. A public vehicle is not recommended as it is tiring and strenuous.
Many travelers set off to Annapurna Circuit pass by this village on foot that typically takes them 11 days from Pokhara.