Neel Kamal Chapagain
Nepal has gone through a series of political transformations leading to policy and governance shifts over the past three decades - in the 1990s (from absolute monarchy and party-less parliamentary system to constitutional monarchy), 2000s (constitutional monarchy to abolition of monarchy and introduction of a federal system), and recent years (implementation of federalism with elected governments at three levels). What are the impacts of such shifts on heritage perceptions, programmes and prospects? This research will examine the Upper Mustang region in Northwestern Nepal - particularly its cultural capital, Lomanthang, to explore these changes and consequences. Lomanthang is a 15th century walled settlement, established as the capital of the then Kingdom of Lo and today perceived as the cultural capital of the region of Upper Mustang. The region is one of the popular but expensive trekking tourism destinations in Nepal, which of course has been hit hard in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from the policy and governance changes, the region has seen significant infrastructural changes particularly with the development of a motorable road cutting through the region. The motivation behind the research is to draw some lessons for heritage understanding and management at multiple levels including policies and public participation as well as a much needed reconceptualisation of the idea of heritage in such geo-cultural contexts particularly in the digital and post-pandemic era.