In the aftermath of the 1959 Tibetan uprisings in Lhasa, large numbers of Tibetan refugees crossed the border into Nepal. But not everyone fled the Chinese invasion. The Khampas, often known as the last Tibetan warriors, not only escorted the Dalai Lama across the Himalayas in 1959, they also set up bases in Mustang and launched a guerrilla war against the Chinese.
“They were really strange people” Shrestha remembering the time he was on assignment from the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) in Upper Mustang. “They carried grilled legs of mules, entire legs, and we saw how they ate them!”
The Khampas were trained and funded by the CIA for many years and remained active until the early 1970s. After President Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972, American support was withdrawn, and the Khampas were eventually disbanded by the Royal Nepal Army in 1974.
(c) Mukunda Bahadur Shrestha/Nepal Picture Library