For centuries, the Himalayan people of Dolpo, an isolated
mountainous area in northwestern Nepal, have made an annual
trek to Tibet to trade grain for salt - a scarce commodity
to their region. Traveling in caravans, these yak herders
represent a traditional Buddhist culture that has upheld
its ancestral Tibetan way of life since settling here ages
ago. Yet rapid change brought about by modern outside influence
signifies that soon these ancient caravans may come to an
inevitable end. This journey is an account of the events
experienced by a young Dolpa boy who, while traveling along
with his father in a caravan for the first time, finds unforeseen
enlightenment upon reaching the ancient walled city of Lo
Monthang, in the mystical kingdom of Mustang.
0:00 ~ 0:46
Dawn in the foothills of the Himalayas. An encampment of
Dolpo caravaneers begins to show activity in the early hours
of this extremely cold day. The smoke of a comforting fire
creates a trail to the sky as more and more heads appear
from beneath the layers of protective woolen coverings.
0:46 ~ 1:19
As the warm rays of the sun finally reach the camp, your perspective shifts to the massive
surroundings. The Himalayan Mountains, now glowing in sunlight, dwarf the encampment
with the majesty of a worldly deity.
1:19 ~ 2:08
At the sounding of the Sankha (conch shell), camp breaks
and the caravaneers once again continue on their journey
to the north country of Tibet. Scores of yaks follow one
another in a solemn parade across the jagged edges of a
snow-covered mountain ridge.
2:08 ~ 2:44
Skirting the desolate northern reaches of the immense Dhaulagiri
Himal, the caravan passes through the village of Tarakot,
a remote hilltop fortress. Knowing the most tortuous part
of their journey lies just ahead, the Buddhist herdsmen
pause to pay reverence to the gods as prayer flags flutter
and brass bells jangle in the relentless winds of these
impoverished yet sacred highlands.
2:44 ~ 3:40
The caravan is tested to its limits as man and beast follow
a treacherous winding course over an unforgiving terrain
of rock and ice. As a blanket of thick clouds overhead further
threatens the possibility of blizzard-like conditions, the
sure-footed caravaneers patiently traverse along an erratic
trail to cross yet another mountain pass.
3:40 ~ 5:25
Eventually the caravan reaches the Kali Gandaki river valley,
a vast gorge that has for ages provided a natural route
for salt traders making the annual trek to and from the
lakes of the northern plateau. Cutting a path deeper than
any other valley on earth, the Kali Gandaki begins as headwaters
in the upper region of Mustang and runs south to eventually
flow into the expansive plains of the Ganges in India.
5:25 ~ 6:09
Following the Kali Gandaki northward, the caravan enters
the isolated region of Mustang, an area inhabited by a people
whose way of life has remained relatively unchanged for
centuries. One of the last remaining Tibetan dominions ruled
by ancestral nobility, this magnificent landscape of rust-colored
hills and lavender snow-capped mountains blends into puffy
white clouds, seeming to form a pathway to the heavens.
6:09 ~ 7:42
At the heart of this majestic kingdom lies the medieval
capital of Lo Monthang, an oasis of green amidst ocherous
surroundings. As the caravan nears its walled perimeter,
the young Dolpo boy breaks away from the group in an anxious
sprint towards the gated entrance. The mysterious allure
of this 14th century city overcomes the young traveler as
he becomes the first to enter, leaving the caravan behind.
Drawn deep into the interior of the city, the young boy
discovers the temple of Champa Lha-Khang, a revered place
of worship by the humble residents of this community. Upon
entering, he finds a group of Buddhist monks engaged in
Being careful not to disrupt the ceremony, he moves in to
get a closer look. As his heartbeat begins to pulse with
increasing intensity, he resists a sudden shortness of breath
when, without warning, a flash of white light causes him
to momentarily lose consciousness.
8:37 ~ 9:46
As he regains his awareness, it becomes immediately apparent
to him that he is no longer standing in the temple, nor
is he even confined to his own physical body. Yet, he has
an overwhelming sensation of spiritual joy. Ahead of him,
a staircase of glistening marble appears which he effortlessly
begins to ascend.
9:46 ~ 10:56
A crystal kaleidoscope of colors and light fill his vision
with wave after wave of illumination. As the stimulating
patterns of radiance begin to swirl and liquefy, he reaches
out to touch this exquisite conception and instantly becomes
one with the transcendent image.
10:56 ~ End
At once, color and light become void and black as the young
boy awakens to the comforting smile and warm embrace of