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Cave Interior, Nyiphu

Cave Interior, Nyiphu
51 x 106.5 cm
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The upper valley, Tsoshar, north-east of Lo Manthang, is riddled with hand-dug caves and extensive hilltop ruins. Near Nyiphu a well preserved multistorey cave system is revealed only by a scattering of head-size openings in a vertical cliff. The caves are entered via a wobbly notched log ladder through a hole in an overhang. On each level a corridor runs parallel with the cliff face from which short passages jut inwards, surrounded by cells. Holes in the floor and ceiling lead to other levels.

Some unfinished caves and the regularity of layout suggest a relatively recent excavation and usage, possibly monastic. The prehistoric cave settlements seem to show a more organic shape, but caves throughout Mustang have been used and adapted for three millennia for various functions by different people at different times: from burial chamber to dwelling, from storage to refuge, from ritual use to meditation. (7)

Copyright 1998 Robert Powell

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