Konju Gurung lost a chunk of his nearby apple farm, which used to earn him Rs100,000 a year. Today, there are only huge boulders and sand where there used to be fruit trees.
Flash floods, which used to be rare in this part of the Himalayan rain shadow, are becoming more frequent as weather patterns become more erratic. In the past decade, the people of Mustang suffered winter droughts, unseasonal snowfalls and cloudbursts.
The geology of the area is made up of pre-historic deposits of sand and boulders, and with no trees to hold the topsoil together, these are easily dislodged by heavy rains.
It was 1 Jun 2015 when it started raining heavily in Marpha village along the Kali Gandaki. The monsoon rains were not due for another three weeks, but the freak storm dumped a huge amount of rain in the surrounding mountains, sending a wall of liquefied mud down a tributary of the Kali Gandaki.
“It had been raining heavily, and all of a sudden there was this thunderous noise as rocks the size of houses were washed down in a sea of mud,” recalls Bhakti Hirachan, 77. The flood damaged 25 houses in Marpha and the scar of the flood can still be seen from the village.
A few months later in August, floods came again and destroyed houses and fields in Jong village. Indeed, floods have become commonplace in what used to be arid Mustang.