Thakalis Of Kali Gandaki River Valley

The Thakali are an ethnolinguistic group from the Thak Khola region of Mustang District. It lies in Nepal’s Dhaulagiri zone. Thak-sat-se is the Thakali community’s traditional area in Mustang District. It lies in the valley of the Kali Gandaki river in western Nepal.

The Thakalis’ origins are unknown. But they claim to be descendants of Hansraj. He was a Thakuri prince of the Jumla-Sinja dynasty in western Nepal.

Traditional Thakali House

There are four types of Thakali people who consider themselves Thakali.
Each of the four castes is distinct. Thn Geographical location basis.

  • Teen Gauley – The Thakalis from Thini, Syang, and Chimang villages
  • Marphali – The Thakalis from Marpha village. They are further classified as Hirachan Pannachan, Jwarchan, and Lalchan.
  • 4 jaat – Sherchan, Tulachan, Bhattachan, and Gauchan
  • Thakali – Thakali from Southern Mustang Tukuche and Jomsom

They all identify as Thakali despite belonging to different castes. The customs, culture, dress, and festivals differ from one another.

Thakalis have the practice of bestowing the title of Subba. The word Subba is a generic term for an officer in Nepal. In Thakali, Subba is a word to refer to a leader. Subba’s traditional and hereditary title extends to the areas of Baragaon, Lo, and Dolpo.

This was extremely beneficial in allowing Subba and his family. It allowed them to conduct large-scale commerce in the Tibet-Himalayan regions. Thus, the Subba family and its descendants wielded political power among the Thakalis.

But, later, many Thakali merchants from Thakkhola migrated to the southern lowlands of Terai. This resulted in Thakali leaders and their families’ political influence gradually dwindling.

The Thakalis, like other Himalayan peoples, were agrarians. They engaged in local trade until the early nineteenth century.

Thakali People celebrating Festival

Thakali power began to rise in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1857 and 1858, Nepal was at war with Tibet. One of the Thakali leaders collaborated with the Hindu Rana regime. He provided valuable information about the Himalayan and Tibetan areas to the central government in Kathmandu. Following Nepal’s victory over Tibet, the Hindu Rana rulers granted Thakali some power. They ranked them as leaders of rock-salt import from Tibet.

Thakali religion is a synthesis of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism. It also amalgamates a native belief known as Dhom. Dhom is a type of shamanistic animism found throughout the Himalayas and Tibet.

These three religions—Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, and Dhom—coexist in the Thakalis’ minds. The worship of their ancestors, known as dhu-tin-gya, is central to Thakalis animism. There are recent cultural changes among the Thakalis. It indicates a preference for Hinduism over Tibetan Buddhism. But you can see Buddhism being more influential in the past.

Thakalis have three major festivals. They are:-

  • Lhafewa (Barha Barse Kumbha Mela)
  • Toranlha (ancestral worship)
  • Falo (Kumar Yatra)

Thakali Women clad in their traditional Thakali attires welcome tourists on the occasion of 12 year festival in Gharpojhang Rural Municipality in Mustang district

The Thakali priest who performs Shaman’s work has the title of Phnom.

Their primary musical instruments are the Madaal, Khaprang, and Thamken. According to the Nepalese Census,

Thakalis are among Nepal’s most prosperous businesspeople. The Thakali is one of Nepal’s wealthiest castes. They conduct business in places like Tukuche and Thaksatse. They are hotel and motel owners in Nepal. But, due to extensive trade throughout Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Tibet, many Thakalis have relocated to Pokhara, Kathmandu, and southern Nepal.

Many of the Thakalis have also survived well in the cities and towns of southern Nepal. They work as merchants, hotel owners, public servants, professors, teachers, medical doctors, etc. Thanks to their hard-working efforts and businesslike attitude.

Thakali merchants live in the Upper Kali Gandaki valley. But some agropastoral Thakalis live on the slopes of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Himalayas.

Their houses are rectangular or square in shape and were originally built in Tibetan style. The Thakalis’ houses are generally large, spacious, and clean. Houses are constructed of slate stones and have flat roofs. During the rainy season, however, the Thakalis must construct bamboo huts within Tibetan-style houses. This is necessary for humid areas such as Lete and Ghasa villages on Thakhola’s southern outskirts.

Thakali meal is made from locally grown grains such as buckwheat, barley, millet, rice, maize, and dal. Dried, ground buckwheat leaves are also used to make a type of dal. Other special pickles, gundruk, and ghee are included as well.

Thakali women dress in a Nepali-style blouse and sarong for everyday wear. They wear a saree for special occasions. In winter, they wear a woolen sweater, shawl, and a western-style overcoat or jacket.The Thakali men wear Labeda, Suruwal, Istakot.

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Ashish Niraula

Ashish Niraula is a seasoned trekker and professional tour consultant based in the country of the Himalayas. He has over seven years of hands-on experience in the sector, which has helped fortify his knowledge and expertise to craft the most iconic and memorable adventure packages in the Himalayas. Ashish’s passion for traveling and the unwavering drive that always pushes him toward excellency, have helped him earn a reputation as a trustworthy advisor in the tourism sector.

As a traveling enthusiast, Ashish has explored all the major trekking routes of Nepal. With years of experience exploring the mystical Himalayas and professional engagement in the field, Ashish honed his skills to design the most iconic adventure experiences in the Himalayas that cater to the adventure palate of every traveler. From organizing the challenging treks to the rugged Himalayas with incredible thrills to facilitating culturally immersive experiences across the traditional settlements in the country, Ashish’s commitment to excellence shines through every aspect of his work.