Shambhala

The ancient kingdom of Mustang, in present day Nepal, mirrors stories about hidden kingdoms in Asia, like Shangri-La and Shambhala. National Geographic has an article about a series expeditions to Mustang in recent years. In caves carved into sheer cliff faces, investigators found wall paintings, religious texts and human remains.

Researcher Broughton Coburn is quoted saying that hidden valleys “were created at times of strife and when Buddhist practice and principals were threatened . . . The valleys contained so-called hidden treasure texts.” A remote location like the cliffs of Mustang could be just that kind of refuge for dangerous or threatened knowledge. The article notes that not only were Buddhist texts found, but also those relating to Bön, an earlier tradition that died out after the spread of Buddhism.

Expand and spin the facts, as role-players so love to do, and the cliffs of Mustang become not only a refuge for knowledge thought lost, but its tenders — or jailers. In fact, WitchCraft already did some work for us, detailing its version of Shambhala in The Book of Hod. Tulpas, secret masters and all that abound.

The Map to Nowhere

Alternately, the caves of Mustang could hide the details of the path to the Plateau of Leng, if you want to play fast and loose with the Cthulhu mythos. The plateau’s extra-dimensional nature makes it more likely for the unwary to stumble across it, rather than for the determined to ever find its trackless reaches. The highest, most inaccessible cave of Mustang contains — or once did, according to the lore — a scroll which explains how to reach the forsaken land. It was hidden in Mustang not to protect the inhabitants of Leng, but to keep the world at large safe from them. It’s a sort of quantum effect: if no one knows the way, then no one can know the way. As long as the scroll is read by no one, the knowledge to reach Leng doesn’t exist. And woe betide the determined linguist who uploads his translations to their online discussion group.

Five Million Years to Earth

Or maybe the mountain itself is the secret. Long ago, in some bygone geological epoch, an alien spaceship crashed to Earth. Over time, a whole mountain of material accreted around it. The locals always recognized the mountain’s otherworldly nature, using it as a repository for their own secrets and sacred texts, excavating caves towards the center of the mountain. Then, one day, someone dug too deep, striking the hull of the spaceship. And that’s when the stasis system unlocked its charges.

More pictures and info can be found at Cabinet of Wonders. Thanks to episode 213 of Mysterious Universe for the original head’s up.

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