Nepal remembers Bista, last king of Upper Mustang

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Jigme Palbar Bista, the former King of Upper Mustang, at the Tenchi Festival in Upper Mustang, 26 May 2014Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista, the former king of Upper Mustang, at a festival in the region in 2014

Ceremonies are taking place in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu to mark the death of the last king of the isolated Himalayan region of Upper Mustang.

Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista, who reigned the Buddhist kingdom for more than half a century, died on Friday aged 86.

King Bista lost his royal title in 2008 when Nepal abolished its own centuries-old monarchy.

He lived most of his life in the medieval capital Lo Manthang, acting as local spiritual leader.

He moved to Kathmandu after he started to experience health problems.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Nepalese women pray for the last king of Upper Mustang, who died aged 86
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
His body is being held at a monastery at Bauddha in Kathmandu, to allow people to pay respects

He was admitted to hospital earlier this week, the former king's nephew Tsewang Bista told the AFP news agency.

His health began to deteriorate last year and he suffered from heart and kidney problems.

"He had not been well on and off," Tsewang Bista said, adding that the former king was "having more difficulty recently because of the cold".

As a young man, Bista supported a CIA-funded guerrilla campaign to oust Chinese forces from neighbouring Tibet after a failed uprising there in 1959.

The remote Buddhist kingdom of Upper Mustang sits surrounded by canyons on the high, arid Tibetan plateau close to the border with China.