Annapurna Circuit: 6th – Braga, Nepal

The Ancient Nepal of Braga


Buddha colors
Goat Trio
Curious goats in the stony ground of Braga, a village on the verge of Manang
Tenderness
rural affairs
Mother and Son, on the way
Rail Amulet
Buddhist Homes
Buddhist banners flutter in the wind above the stone and wood houses below the Buddhist Monastery of Braga.
Braga down there
Panoramic view of Braga from the trail that goes up to Ice Lake.
Top of the Monastery of Braga
The Annapurnas in the background as seen from the top of Braka Buddhist monastery.
Garrido Buddhist corner
Buddhist flags decorate the Buddhist temple in Braga, Nepal
Reloading yak
Yak recharges in the sun after a cold night spent in the corral.
equine kiss
Horses on the soaked meadow in front of Braga
Backlit banners
Buddhist banners flutter in the wind
Reloading yak
Yak recharges in the sun after a cold night spent in the corral.
in the sun
Braga resident on the sunny terrace of her old house.
The door
Detail of a door on the top floor of the Buddhist Monastery of Braga
Four days of walking later, we slept at 3.519 meters from Braga (Braka). Upon arrival, only the name is familiar to us. Faced with the mystical charm of the town, arranged around one of the oldest and most revered Buddhist monasteries on the Annapurna circuit, we continued our journey there. acclimatization with ascent to Ice Lake (4620m).

The New Yak Hotel's Disputed Shelter

The comfort. The well-being. The heat. It will not be the visitor-walkers who are spoiled. The need is universal.

During the Annapurna circuit, as soon as the sun disappears behind the mountains, life seems to revolve around fire. At the New Yak Hotel in Braga, the competition for places around the fire was repeated, in that case, fired on the establishment's stove.

Buddhist banners in Braga, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Buddhist banners flutter in the wind

A group of Germans that woke up with the chickens and with the day already planned from end to end, won again.

We left the room, showered and more or less tidy stuff. When we entered the inn's living and dining room, the Teutonic youths monopolized the heat.

The room was arranged under the length. There were only a few seats left at the far end of the stove, near the counter and off the kitchen.

With no alternatives, that's where we settle. We ordered dinner. Before, during and a long time after the meal, we participated in another classic pastime of the inns on the Annapurna Circuit.

The New Yak lacked room outlets. Everything that was device battery charging was concentrated in a single tower with dozens of entries.

Strange Electric Hobby

Whether or not it was on purpose, the entrances to this tower Made in China they didn't hold most of the chips. The problem would be serious with three or four chips to be connected.

But there were more than thirty competing for the tower. As soon as we put our devices there, we realized how fragile the contact we got was. If another guest tapped one of his tokens, two or three around him would turn off.

In practice, this failure meant that none of them was comfortable with the shipments. Instead of chatting quietly at the table, they kept coming and going to the food tower.

As soon as some left it, others appeared immediately worried about the possibility that the previous ones had turned off their devices.

We were sitting right next to the tower. We could even have been last in the dispute for the fire, but we made up for it in the intimacy we achieved with that capricious power station.

Another consequence of its dysfunctionality was that no one had the patience to wait until the devices were fully charged. That night, we, like the other guests, entrusted its operation to powerbanks that we brought loaded for emergencies.

Not even the owner of the inn would allow big nights out. Having made their usual profit, at the usual post-meal time, the employees of the New Yak stopped putting firewood in the stove. The room quickly turned cold. It was the sign everyone knew that it was time for bed.

The afternoon entrance to the village, he had foreseen a stunning Braga. Okay, we slept as best as possible.

Resident of Braga, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Braga resident on the sunny terrace of her old house.

New Day, New Braga

Shortly after dawn, we sat on the terrace in the company of the Turkish walking companion Fevsi. Under a sun once more radiant, we devoured the porridge with apple and honey to our delight.

German Josh, who had retreated a few miles to Chame to retrieve your permit of the circuit, it was already there. After half an hour, another group of hikers that both Fevsi and Josh knew arrived. It was Bruno and Cris, both Brazilians.

And Lenka and Tatjana, Germans, the first of Russian descent. The second, the daughter of a German father and a German mother, but half Kazakh, half Chinese.

We fraternized for a few moments. After which each one follows in the mode that they were most interested in. Fevsi was vegetating on the terrace. We, Josh, Bruno and Lenka set out to discover Braga.

As had happened the day before, a few yaks grazed the sodden grass on the gentle slope between the two limestone walls that enclosed the village to the east and west.

It wasn't just yaks. Five or six foals that had joined the herdsmanship made up the bucolic setting with which the morning held us.

The Mysticism Overlooking the Monastery of Braga

As much as the nature and geology of the place there glowed, it was the human components that made Braga special: its eccentric Buddhist monastery, embedded in the base of a miniature mountain range replete with sharp peaks, a gompa with a unique history and importance to match.

And the intriguing houses that, on sight, seemed almost troglodyte installed below and around.

Kama Chhiring, a resident, gave an online statement to the University of Virginia's Mandala cultural repositories website.

In this testimony, he explains in dialect manganese that a great Tibetan lama – Khatu Karma Lapsang, of the eleventh incarnation – passed through that area more than half a millennium ago.

After some time, this Karmapa  he had the monastery of Braga built there to house a few Tibetan idols that, today, Buddhist religious continue to protect and preserve.

These days, the temple houses many more. It houses hundreds of Buddha statues, some more sacred than others, according to their antiquity.

Thanks to the monastery, Tibetan Buddhism spread to the villages and hamlets of the region. Today, the undisputed faith is maintained, not only of the speaking populations. manganese like many other of these parts of the Himalayas.

A gompa Braga is not, however, the type of monastery that receives, every day, large retinues of believers. Despite having more than three hundred residents, Braka seems deserted to us.

We had read elsewhere that a visit to the monastery entailed a down payment. But when we ascend to the roof-terrace on its heights, we don't find a soul to pay the ticket.

A Stunning Panoramic Dome

We went up to the last floor by a small carved wooden staircase.

From up there, for a good half hour, we were dazzled by the majestic view of the Annapurna III (7.555m) and Gangapurna (7.455m) mountains to the south, with their lofty peaks still well snowed.

Top of Braka Monastery, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

The Annapurnas in the background as seen from the top of Braka Buddhist monastery.

From that top, we also examined the row of houses made of gray stone, adobe and wood, one perched on top of the other, each with its own multicolored Buddhist banner flying, all of them leaning against the opposite slope where Braka had nestled.

This was the secular and genuine Braka. The one that outsiders like us scoured in passing. There was another one, much more recent.

The one located on both sides of the Manang Sadak road, with the Marsyangdi River in sight, where the inns and teahouses succeed each other, in the most convenient positions to capture the ravaged and hungry hikers. First to New Yak.

Soon, several others, lined up in the direction of Manang, which was already less than four kilometers away. Manang is the largest of the surrounding villages.

The hikers there make the final preparations and procedures for the circuit's supreme crossing: the one at Thorong La canyon, at 5.416 meters above sea level, almost two thousand above the Braga that we continued to explore.

Passing through, through the tenuous life of Braga

We left Bruno and Lenka in a moment of contemplation and meditation that required silence. We went back down to the base of the temple. We wandered through the alleys of the village still covered with ice or snow in the nooks that the sun's rays had not yet ventured.

A few homes were abandoned. Its ruins plunged into the narrow alleys. They forced us to walk over piles of slippery stones.

These homes, like the others, had wooden lace windows and, even if without the color of other times, elegant.

Almost every house included corrals at the base. And over these corrals, there were porches that the residents stuffed with dry firewood, on which they installed their clothes racks and, here and there, small television disc antennas.

We returned to the edge of these houses, where the homes bordered on the soaked meadow that kept the pack animals occupied. In this borderline zone, we end up with some human life.

Between Goats and Yaks

One family was carrying large baskets overflowing with a dark mixture of straw and pine needles. They did it between a propped heap of the substance and a corral to which they gave a new bed.

Farther down, a herd of goats returned to their shelter.

Father, son, little goat in Braga, Nepal

Braga's father passes a furry goat to his baby son.

To the delight of Tenzin, a two-year-old Nepalese boy (or younger) who was busy trying to block the way for the little goats and whom we watched, smiling, when Sonan Tchincap, his young father, handed him one of them, brown. of course, very fuzzy, for the lap.

We came across more yaks again. Two of them, black, already almost more cows than yaks from so many past crossings, stood by a wooden fence, motionless except for their mouths that seemed to chew and taste the air.

As we realized, the owners had only recently released them from the frigid night of their rooms.

Chilled, stiff to match, the animals recharged with the morning solar heat, even more slowly than cell phones and powerbanks at New Yak.

We still turned back two or three times. We never got to see the bovines move.

Yak at Brag, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Yak recharges in the sun after a cold night spent in the corral.

In those wanderings and preparations, the day was almost halfway through.

It was time to return to the inn's logistical base.

There was so much more to explore around Braga so we extended our stay for another night. Manang and the dreaded Thorong Pass could well wait.

Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a ChameNepal

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Annapurna Circuit: 2th - Chame a Upper BananaNepal

(I) Eminent Annapurnas

We woke up in Chame, still below 3000m. There we saw, for the first time, the snowy and highest peaks of the Himalayas. From there, we set off for another walk along the Annapurna Circuit through the foothills and slopes of the great mountain range. towards Upper Banana.
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
Annapurna Circuit: 4th – Upper Banana to Ngawal, Nepal

From Nightmare to Dazzle

Unbeknownst to us, we are faced with an ascent that leads us to despair. We pulled our strength as far as possible and reached Ghyaru where we felt closer than ever to the Annapurnas. The rest of the way to Ngawal felt like a kind of extension of the reward.
Annapurna Circuit: 5th - Ngawal a BragaNepal

Towards the Nepalese Braga

We spent another morning of glorious weather discovering Ngawal. There is a short journey towards Manang, the main town on the way to the zenith of the Annapurna circuit. We stayed for Braga (Braka). The hamlet would soon prove to be one of its most unforgettable places.
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit - The Painful Acclimatization of Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

Six days after leaving Besisahar we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). Located at the foot of the Annapurna III and Gangapurna Mountains, Manang is the civilization that pampers and prepares hikers for the ever-dreaded crossing of Thorong La Gorge (5416 m).
Annapurna 10th Circuit: Manang to Yak Kharka, Nepal

On the way to the Annapurnas Even Higher Lands

After an acclimatization break in the near-urban civilization of Manang (3519 m), we made progress again in the ascent to the zenith of Thorong La (5416 m). On that day, we reached the hamlet of Yak Kharka, at 4018 m, a good starting point for the camps at the base of the great canyon.
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Annapurna Circuit 11th: yak karkha a Thorong Phedi, Nepal

Arrival to the Foot of the Canyon

In just over 6km, we climbed from 4018m to 4450m, at the base of Thorong La canyon. Along the way, we questioned if what we felt were the first problems of Altitude Evil. It was never more than a false alarm.
Annapurna Circuit: 12th - Thorong Phedi a High camp

The Prelude to the Supreme Crossing

This section of the Annapurna Circuit is only 1km away, but in less than two hours it takes you from 4450m to 4850m and to the entrance to the great canyon. Sleeping in High Camp is a test of resistance to Mountain Evil that not everyone passes.
Annapurna Circuit: 13th - High camp a Thorong La to Muktinath, Nepal

At the height of the Annapurnas Circuit

At 5416m of altitude, the Thorong La Gorge is the great challenge and the main cause of anxiety on the itinerary. After having killed 2014 climbers in October 29, crossing it safely generates a relief worthy of double celebration.
Annapurna Circuit 14th - Muktinath to Kagbeni, Nepal

On the Other Side of the Pass

After the demanding crossing of Thorong La, we recover in the cozy village of Muktinath. The next morning we proceed back to lower altitudes. On the way to the ancient kingdom of Upper Mustang and the village of Kagbeni that serves as its gateway.
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