What is the major attraction of Manaslu Circuit Trek?

The Manaslu Circuit trek provides a lot of attraction along its route. You will get to experience historic Gorkha, which was the ancestral home of the Shah dynasty. The King of the Shah dynasty unified Nepal. In contrast, the peaceful Tsum Valley will also be covered in this trek. The trip also provides a chance to trek through Manaslu Conservation Area. It is a beautiful protected area in north-central Nepal. Further, the views of the turquoise-blue lake, Birendra Tal, will dazzle you. You will also pass through the Manaslu Base Camp, a gateway to the killer mountain, Manaslu (8,163 m/ 26,781 ft). Likewise, the trek also passes through the dramatic Larkya La Pass.

Historic Gorkha 

Before the arrival of the Shah dynasty, Gorkha was a patchwork of chiefdoms. Some were ruled by the Ghale, a sub-tribe of the Gurung people, and some by the Khadkas, a sub-tribe of the Chhetri caste. The second son of the King of neighboring Lamjung, Dravya Shah, decided to establish his kingdom. To do this, he first gained control of Ligligkot, which was under the Ghales. After this, Dravya Shah united various chiefdoms under his control. Eventually, he formed the Kingdom of Gorkha.

After this, Gorkha was ruled by Dravya Shah's descendants. In time, they were involved in conflicts with Lamjung.  Ram Shah, the fourth King, was famous for his legal reforms. He also built the Gorkha Durbar, a palace in the Newari architectural style.

The palace still stands to this day. It is built on a ridge high above Gorkha. From here, a magnificent view of the Trishuli valley can be seen. The Annapurna I (8,091 m/ 26,545 ft) and Manaslu (8,163 m/26,781 ft) can also be observed.

Gorkha Durbar is a complex containing a large temple and the actual palace. The temple is of the Goddess Kalika and is located on the western side. It is a beautiful temple containing elegant wooden carvings. The eastern side contains the Dhuni Pati, where the last King of Gorkha, Prithvi Narayan Shah, was born. Close to it is the tomb of Guru Gorakhnath. He was a sage and the spiritual guide of the young Prithvi Narayan Shah.

In the north lies the former Royal Guest House. Descending a little down, a colorful statue of 
Hanuman, the Monkey God, can be seen. Carved footprints belonging to either Sita, Rama, Gorakhnath, or Guru Rinpoche are also next to a chautari (resting platform below a tree).

The last King of Gorkha was Prithvi Narayan Shah. His father and predecessor, Nara Bhupal Shah, dreamed of conquering the rich Kathmandu valley. However, he failed in taking Nuwakot, the path to the valley. Seeing the Kathmandu valley from Chandragiri Hill, Prithvi Narayan Shah also decided on the same thing. After the successful conquest of the valley, he shifted his capital to Kathmandu.  

History of Gorkha

King Dravya Shah established the Kingdom of Gorkha in 1559. Its last King, Prithvi Narayan Shah, formed the Kingdom of Nepal in 1768.

What is Gorkha famous for?

Gorkha is famous for being the ancestral home of the Shah dynasty. This dynasty is the founding dynasty of the kingdom of Nepal. The last King of Nepal belonged to this dynasty.

Tsum Valley 

Tsum Valley is a peaceful valley in northern Gorkha. The word "Tsum" means vivid, and it perfectly describes this valley. It was only opened to trekkers in 2008. Thus, it is a very undisturbed valley that feels ancient and filled with the beauty of raw nature. Its inaccessibility contributes to this. As it is near the Tibetan border, most of its inhabitants are there.

They speak a dialect a little different from the surrounding region. This valley contains many religious and historic sites, preserved for centuries due to its remoteness. Historically, the valley was part of "Tsum Tso Chuksum," which means thirteen provinces of a single territory.

The valley is a treasure trove for nature lovers. Far from the activities of cities, it is very serene. The valley is drained by Shear Khola, which originates from the western glacier of Ganesh Himal (7,422 m /24,350 ft) and the eastern and southern glacier of Shringi (7,161 m/ 23,494 ft). It meets the Budi Gandaki at Nyak. Thus, the trail runs along many raging tributaries of the Shear Khola and thunderous waterfall. The trail cuts through high suspension bridges and dense pine forests. Himal Chuli (7,893 m/ 25,895 ft), Ganesh Himal (7,422 m /24,350 ft), Manaslu (8,163 m/ 26,781 ft), Churke Himal (5,282 m/17,329 ft) are some of the mountains you can see from the trail.

The valley is rich in many religious sites. It contains a lot of Buddhist monasteries. Due to this, it is a part of the Kyimu Lung, a pilgrimage trek across the central Trans-Himalaya. It is well known as a circuit of learning and meditation among the Buddhist inhabitants of Nepal. This trek contains the Tsum valley and the southern parts of Tibet. In ancient times, the Buddhist saint Milarepa was said to have meditated in the various caves of the valley. The trail runs along several Mani walls built with large stone slabs. They are carved with the images of deities and inscribed with prayers. You can observe various Gompas, monasteries, and many monks and nuns living in their religious orders.

Manaslu Conservation Area

Manaslu Conservation Area is a beautiful protected area in north-central Nepal. It lies in the Gorkha District of Nepal. It is 119 km/ 73.9 mi from Kathmandu and a seven-hour drive. Jagat village in Sirdibas is the main entrance.

The conservation area covers six climatic zones; arctic, alpine, sub-alpine, temperate, subtropical, and tropical. Most of its inhabitants migrated from Tibet. They are mainly Buddhists. The remoteness of their homeland means they still follow traditions that go back centuries. The conservation area contains many Buddhist monasteries, including Shringi Gompa in Bihi and Rachen and Mu Gompas in Chhekampar.

Key facts

  • Manaslu conservation area is home to endangered species such as musk deer and snow leopard.
  • Manaslu Conservation Area was established in 1998.
  • It has an area of 1,663 sq. km/ 642 sq. mi.
  • It has an elevation of 1,400 m/ 4,593 ft to 8,156 m/ 26,758 ft.

Flora and Fauna

Manaslu Conservation Area is home to 33 species of mammals, 110 species of birds, 11 species of butterflies, and three species of reptiles. This includes endangered species like musk deer and snow leopard. Other animals include the Himalayan Thar, blue sheep, Himalayan marmot, woolly hare, red fox, brown bear, and lynx. Birds like the Golden eagle, Himalayan griffon, and Tibetan snowcock also call this region home.

There are approximately 2000 species of plants, 11 types of forests, and over 50 species of useful plants. The lower altitudes are made up of forests containing Sal and cotton trees. These forests are slowly replaced with oaks with dense underwood of moss as you move up. A little higher, you can find forests of hemlock and fir filled with rhododendrons. Birch and junipers in drier areas hug the tree line. These forests then give way to vast and open grasslands at the altitude of 4000 m.

Where is Manaslu Conservation Area situated?

It is located in the Mansiri Himal range in Gorkha District, Gandaki Zone, Gandaki province.

When was Manaslu Conservation Area established?

It was established in 1998.

Which plants are found in Manaslu Conservation Area?

Sal, true chestnuts, oaks, rhododendron, hemlock, fir blue pine, and juniper are found in Manaslu Conservation Area.

What animals live on Manaslu?

Musk deer, snow leopard, red fox, brown bear, lynx, blue sheep, and Himalayan Thar are some animals found in Manaslu. Birds like Tibetan snowcock and Golden eagle are also found.

Birendra Lake

Birendra Tal (Lake) is a turquoise-blue lake in north-central Nepal. It is named after the late King of Nepal, King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah, and it means King of warriors. It is a freshwater lake at an altitude of 3,691 m/ 12,110 ft. It is located at the foot of the Manaslu peak in the Gorkha district. It is just a 45-minute walk from the popular village of Samagaon.

It is a short distance from the trekking trail, and you are likely to miss it without prior information. However, it is highly recommended for the breathtaking view of a serene and crystal clear lake.

The green grasslands of the Manaslu region next to it provide a beautiful contrast which makes you appreciate it even more. The mountain backdrop also makes the lake feel otherworldly to tired trekkers. The chilly and icy waters of the lake are perfect for a dip to make you feel refreshed after a long and arduous trek. The lake is formed from the melting snows of the Manaslu glacier. The Punhyen Glacier is also nearby. The serene lake is also a water source for the various animals of the surrounding area.

It is recommended that you visit the lake as you travel from Samagaon to Samdo. This is because you will probably be staying and resting at Samagaon to acclimatize. This free time provides a perfect opportunity for you to get to Birendra Lake and explore Samagaon and the nearby Punhyen Gompa. Spring and autumn are ideal for witnessing this lake as it will not be frozen or disturbed by rain.

Manaslu Base Camp 

Manaslu Base Camp is at an altitude of 4,800 m/ 15,750 ft. It is the gateway to the killer mountain, Manaslu (8,163 m/ 26,781 ft). It is reached only by foot from Samagaon. It takes about 5 hours to reach the base camp from Samagaon and 3 hours to get back. The route leads you through the Birendra lake, and it is a steep and challenging climb. There are no teahouses or any other settlements. However, seasonal tents can be found occasionally that sell basic food items. Thus, it is vital for you to be well supplied if you want to reach the base camp.

For your safety, be sure to read the weather forecast before attempting to reach the base camp. There is no way to communicate from the way. The village of Samagaon is also blocked from view on the trail. So, you must be very careful in planning a trek to the Manaslu Base Camp. Thankfully, you can always find trekkers willing to accompany you who want to experience the majesty of Manaslu up close and your guides and porters.

Why is Manaslu Base Camp popular? 

It is an excellent trip for trekkers who want to see Manaslu (8163 m/ 26,781 ft) up close. 
You can see Samagaon and Birendra Lake from a bird's eye view.
You can see Samdo peak (5,177 m/ 16,985 ft), Naike Peak (6,211 m/ 20,377 ft) and Manaslu Glacier. 
It provides exposure to the rich culture and rural life.

The base camp is set up on a rocky moraine which offers an amazing view of the Himalayas. You can get a bird's eye view of Samagaon and the crystal clear Birendra Lake from the base camp. You can also see Samdo peak (5,177 m/ 16,985 ft), Naike Peak (6,211 m/ 20,377 ft), Manaslu Glacier and of course Manaslu (8,163 m/ 26,781 ft) clearly. From the base camp, the next point is Manaslu Advanced Camp 1 at the height of 5800 m/ 18,700 ft.

Where is Manaslu base camp?

Manaslu base camp is a 5-hour trek from Samagaon.

What is the altitude of the Manaslu base camp?

Manaslu base camp lies an altitude of (4,800 m/ 15,748 ft).

Can you take a helicopter to Manaslu Base Camp?

Yes, you can take a helicopter to Manaslu Base Camp.

Larkya La Pass 

Larkya La pass at an altitude of 5,106 m/ 16,752 ft is the highest point of Manaslu Circuit Trek. It is one of the longest passes in Nepal and runs along with Manaslu (8163 m/ 26,781 ft). It lies to the north of Manaslu. It is also called the Larke pass. It is located between Dharamsala and Bimthang in Manang district, Nepal. Dharamsala is also called Larkya Phedi, as it lies on the base of the pass. The distance between them is 24.7 km/ 15.3 miles, and there are no other settlements between them. Trekkers are advised to travel the whole 10-hour trek through this pass on a single day. This is because no teahouses or seasonal tents are present in the past. Camping is also dangerous in the cold. So, most itineraries are designed to start this part of the trek before sunrise.

Himlung Himal (7,126 m / 23,379 ft), Annapurna II (7,937 m/ 26,040 ft), Kangaru Himal (6,981 m/ 22,904 ft), Manaslu (8,163 m/ 26,781 ft) and Manaslu North (6,991 m/ 22,936 ft) are some of the mountains that can be seen at the top of this pass. It features a seemingly endless trail through the high peaks of the Himalayas. A four to five-hour stretch of the trail goes through rough and exposed terrain. To the east of the pass, trekkers must travel on the previous course of the Larkya glacier. The snow of that glacier is spread along rocks. Due to this, it has been described as the most dramatic pass of Nepal. The pass is known for its sudden storms.  

As you travel through the pass, you can see prayer flags and chortens along the trail. You will descend an elevation of 1,700 m/ 5,577 ft as you trek through this pass. The pass ends at Bimthang, an alpine valley surrounded by the Himalayan peaks. From Bimthang, you can reach a village called Dharapani. It lies on the route of the Annapurna Circuit too. So you can even combine the two iconic circuits if you want. 

Mount Manaslu 

Manaslu (8,163 m/ 26,781 ft) is the eighth highest mountain in the world. It lies in the west-central part of Nepal within the Gorkha district. It is a part of the Mansiri Himal, a sub-range of the Himalayas. Its name is derived from Sanskrit. It translates to "mountain of the spirit." These features make way for a steep peak.

7 Fast Facts about Mount Manaslu

  • It was first climbed on May 9, 1956.
  • Having first climbed by Japanese, it receives many Japanese visitors.
  • The easiest route to the summit is the northeast face.
  • The snow line of the Manaslu is said to be above 5,000 m/ 16,000 ft.
  • It rises 3,092 m/ 10,144 ft from the nearest peak. This number is its prominence.
  • It is an ultra-prominent peak as its prominence is above 1,500 m/ 4,900 ft.
  • The minimum distance from its nearest peak is 106 km/ 66 mi.

Ngadi Chuli (7,871 m/ 25,823 ft) and Himal Chuli (7,893 m/ 25,895 ft) are some important peaks that surround it. To the north of Manaslu lies the spectacular Larkya La pass at an altitude of 5,106 m/ 16,752 ft. The eastern boundary is Ganesh Himal (7,422 m /24,350 ft) and the Budi Gandaki River gorge. It is bounded on the west by the Annapurna range of hills. To the south lies Gorkha town.

H. W. Tilman was the first European to see Manaslu in 1950. After this, four Japanese expeditions from 1950 to 1955 were surveyed for climbing routes in the north and east faces. In 1954, a Japanese team going to the peak encountered a hostile group of inhabitants at Samagaon.

What is the height of Mount Manaslu?

The height of Mount Manaslu is 8,163 m/ 26,781 ft.

Why is Manaslu called Killer mountain?

It is called Killer mountain because more than 60 people have died trying to climb it.

How hard is it to climb Manaslu?

Situated at more than 8,000 m/ 26,246 ft, it is challenging to climb Manaslu. However, it is less demanding than the other Eight-thousands of Nepal.

What does Manaslu mean?

Manaslu means "mountain of the spirit."The name derives from the Sanskrit word 'manasa,' meaning "intellect" or "soul."

What are the other names of Mount Manaslu?

Manaslu is also known as Kutang or Kampunge.