On Location in Nepal, Part 2: Hit the Heights

*Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part blog post.

In our previous blog post, we shared some favorite moments from the Casana team’s video shoot on location in Kathmandu. But our fantastic Nepali voyage was far from over, and the next leg of our adventure would prove to be the most uplifting – literally!

Led by founder and Creative Director Carrie Chen, we journeyed deep into the Himalayan Mountains by helicopter. Our ultimate destination was Kobang, a remote community in Nepal’s Upper Mustang region (along the Tibetan border). The locals have built their homes in and around the foothills of the mountains, which makes for pretty great views. Here are our own special “highlights”:

Recognize this prominent peak? It’s Mt. Nilgiri, part of the world’s highest mountain range. And Carrie had a direct view of it from her window! Tourists are not allowed to climb Nilgiri, as it’s believed the mountain is holy, so this is the closest one can get to its grandeur.

In her own words, our fearless leader believes “Seeing the landscape from above is the only way to truly experience the beauty of Nepal. When I was in the helicopter, I was afraid to blink because every second the mountains, clouds, and landscape would change. It was absolutely breathtaking.”

These very pictures prove her right. Look at how different these two views of the same village are, taken while soaring over Kobang.

The Upper Mustang is historically one of the most preserved areas in the world. Formerly the Kingdom of Lo, a dependent territory of the Kingdom of Nepal, it was a restricted demilitarized zone until 1992 and has kept many traditions alive today that mix Tibetan and Nepali customs. Foreigners still need special permission to enter this region. If you travel there on foot, you can even use the same road that was a major trade route between Nepal and China in the 15th century. (Of course, nothing beats travel by chopper!)

And did you know we had a special guest along for the ride? The wonderful Asmi Shrestha, Miss Nepal of 2016 (she also competed in the Miss World pageant, placing in Beauty with a Purpose’s Top 5), was our Casana scarf model for the video shoot. You’ll see more of her in future posts. Immense thanks to our terrific crew, pictured below – we were blessed to have their hard work, dedication, and good cheer to make this project a success.

( From left to right: local production assistant Tsering Dorje, Asmi Shrestha, director Adri Berger, local guide Nobu San and his assistant, Casana founder Carrie Chen, and production photographer Yumiko Izu )

(From left to right: local production assistant Tsering Dorje, Asmi Shrestha, director Adri Berger, local guide Nobu San and his assistant, Casana founder Carrie Chen, and production photographer Yumiko Izu)

More info about this amazing trip will be coming in the next weeks, but now you have a good idea of why this beautiful country means so much to us. Not only is its land majestic, it carries a strong spiritual aura that connects to all the people and animals who live there. In Nepal, we are all truly one.

On Location in Nepal, Part 1: We Kathmandu!

*Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part blog post.

As we say here at Casana, fashion is about caring and sharing. Sometimes part of that sharing is taking old traditions and making them new (like we love to do with our handwoven scarves). So to get some style inspiration for our latest collections, we headed “home” to Nepal, where our cashmere is harvested and manufactured. We shot some cool videos on our adventure – which we’ll be sharing soon – but for now, here are some of the greatest moments from the trip!

Our group’s first stop: the big city of Kathmandu. Nepal’s capital is the cultural center of the nation, home to more people than any other metropolis in the Himalayan region. During the first day’s location scouting, we visited the historic Swayambhunath temple. Nicknamed “Monkey Temple” for the hundreds of monkeys that reside in and around the structure, Swayambhunath is actually one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world. So peaceful and majestic, it’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

See that dome-shaped structure rising above the rest of the temple? It’s called a stupa, and signifies a building designated as a Buddhist shrine. Stupas are popular in Nepali architecture, as we found out on our trip.

The monkeys living at Swayambhunath are believed to be holy, according to a legend that says they grew from the head lice of the Manjusree Bodhisattva (the embodiment of Buddhist wisdom). But one simian acted a little more like Curious George when we arrived. This fun-loving fellow stole our group’s flowers, hoping to eat them. He was disappointed when they didn’t taste as good as they looked.

After getting up-close-and-personal with Kathmandu’s wildlife, we took off on a modern magic carpet ride. For the second part of location shooting, we were heading high into the mountainous villages nestled around the Tibetan border. The best way to get there? By helicopter!

Flying over Kathmandu, we got a gorgeous overhead view of Boudhanath, the city’s largest stupa and the building that dominates its skyline. The aptly-named Great Stupa is ancient, dating back to the 500s C.E., and its history contains many myths tying it directly to Buddha. Fallout from the April 2015 earthquake badly damaged the temple’s original structure, and the reconstruction process has fitted Boudhanath with a new central pole or “life tree” at the top of the dome. Like Swayambhunath, Boudhanath has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kathmandu was incredible, but what mysteries would the Himalayan peaks reveal to the Casana team? Find out in our next blog post!