Apple Pies and Brandy

Features Issue 101 Feb, 2011
Text by Amar B. Shrestha / Photo: ECS Media

'Mar' stands for hard-working and pha means people. One would indeed have to be hard-working to thrive here! The village of Marpha (2,650 m) is located in the Kali Gandaki Valley of the Annapurna Conservation Area in Mustang District (northern Nepal). An imposing monastery built into a cliff towers over the village of small peasant homes. Although the tiny airport of Jomsom is within a walking distance of one hour, Beni, from where begins the next nearest road, is a journey of two to three days by foot.

Marpha is home to the Thakalis. They were once salt traders with Tibet, but this business ended abruptly in 1959. Tourism and mule rearing are also important occupations. Today, however, everyone is into apple farming. Known as the ÂVillage of OrchardsÊ, MarphaÊs apples are renowned and the brandy derived from them, prized. Celebrated also are its apple pies. Small wonder then that the Jomsom Trek is known as ÂThe Apple Pie TrekÊ. Pilgrims on the way to Muktinath pass through Marpha and for them, too, its apples are soulful snacks for the road.