Muktinath | Muktinath Travel Guide

Muktinath | Muktinath Travel Guide
Muktinath Temple

Muktinath is a highly recognized sacred site for Hindus and Buddhists. It is located in Muktinath Valley at the altitude of 3800 meters at foot of the Thorong La mountain pass in the Lower Mustang region of Nepal. It is also one of the world’s highest temples. You can watch high elevated fascinating mountain ranges at the south from the temple and view of Tibetan plateau to the north side. The village down from Muktinath called Ranipauwa which is also called Muktinath village is full of Hotels, restaurants, and guest houses.

Muktinath in Hindu eye

Within Hinduism, Muktinath is Mukti Chhetra which means the place of liberation or salvation. Muktinath is also one of the Char Dham. Temple is considered one of the 8th sacred places and one of the 51 Shakti Pitha. The main temple of Muktinath is the Pagoda style dedicated to Bishnu. Temple consists middle statue of Bishnu, Goddess Saraswoti, Janaki, Garuda, Lava Kusa, and the Sapta Rishi. The outer courtyard of Muktinath temple has 108 bull faces taps through which water is poured. Iced cold water from Kali Gandaki River has been diverted in these taps.  The front of the temple has two holy ponds. Devotees’ takes bath in these 108 taps and deep in these 2 ponds believes to bring salvation after death. The Hindu god Brahma is said to have lit the eternal flames that burn at Muktinath.

Down from the Muktinath temple lies Kaligandaki River, which is the source of Shaligram that require to establish the Vishnu temple. Another Hindu place Damodar Kunda Gis 173 kilometres northern of Muktinath temple. Damodar Kunda is the Source of Kali Gandaki River and the motherland of Shaligram. Damodar Kunda has mentioned in Puran. 
Devotees from India in Muntinath Temple
Devotees from India love to take a picture in front of Muktinath Temple with their Guide  

Muktinath in Buddhist Eye

Within Buddhism, Muktinath is a place where Guru Rinpoche came and meditated on his way to Tibet. Buddhist also called Muktinath as Chuming Gyatsa in Tibetan word, which meanings are a hundred springs. For Tibetan Buddhism, Muktinath is an important place of Dakinis. For both Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhism of Nepal, Muktinath area is respected as one of the 24 places where Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) practices in the 8th century on his way from India to Tibet. Guru Rinpoche built a statue in his own image at the time he leaving the place. These days, this statue lives in Mharme Lhakhang Gompa nearby the Muktinath temple.

An old Buddhist monk present in the Muktinath temple and worship is conducted by Buddhist nuns. Every day, a religious ceremony begins with a morning Puja conducted by the Hindu priest, who then handover it to the Buddhist nun. A nun takes care of the prayer services for the whole day. In the evening, Hindu priests again do evening puja to conclude the day.  Pagoda style temple was constructed around 1814 and renovated in 1929 and 2012. Muktinath is a religious place with views of stunning mountains and beautiful landscapes. This temple is an exceptional place as two different religions and different beliefs come to pray in one roof.  
Indian Prime Minister Modi in Muktinath
Indian Prime Minister Modi in Muktinath with Buddhist Nuns     

Places to visit in Muktinath

Muktinath Temple
- 108 holy taps
- Two holy pond in front of the temple
- Jwalamai temple by Hindu and named Dhola Mebar Gompa by Buddhist
- Mharme Lhakhang Gompa to the north of the main temple
- Sangdo Gompa, left from the entrance gate of Muktinath complex  
- Biggest Buddhist Statue recently built ahead of Jwalamukhi temple  
- Ranipauwa village and monasteries built in this place  

Special days in Muktinath
This area is busy throughout the year. There are some special days for Hindu and Buddhists to pray especially. Hindu festival Rishi Tarpani (Janai Purnima), Ram Navami and Vijaya Dashami (Dashain) are the day’s crowds for Hindu devotees to reach there to perform Puja. For Buddhists, Lhosar, Toranla, Bak chhap (Lama Dance festival), Yartung during August/ September are the important days to gather devotees and make special prayers.     

Best way to reach Muktinath

By 4wheel Jeep: the road to Muktinath is a rough mountain road from Beni. Beni is about 9 hours drive from Kathmandu and 3 hours from Pokhara. From Beni, it is about 7 hours drive to reach Muktinath temple via Galeswor, Kobang, Marpha, Jomsom, and Jharkot village. From Pokhara, it will be a minimum of 1 night and 2 days tour. From Kathmandu, it will be 3 nights and 4 days tour plan including the visit to other interesting places.
Jeep tour to Muktinath
4 Wheel drive to Muktinath 

By flight to Jomsom and drive: Jomsom airport is the only airport in Mustang and about 25 kilometres from Muktinath. It is 15 minutes flight with tiny aircraft. Flights only operate morning time up to 11 am. Pokhara to Jomsom flight, catch the local bus or Jeep (2 Hours) to reach Muktinath temple. From Jeep station, it is another 2-kilometre walking, horse riding, or hiring a motorbike. There is no direct flight from Kathmandu to Jomsom. One overnight in Pokhara and catch an early morning flight is only one possibility. A Morning flight from Kathmandu and catch another flight to Jomsom on the same day is not possible.  

By helicopter: Muktinath can visit by Helicopter either from Kathmandu or from Pokhara. It is about 5-hour tours both way from Kathmandu and 2 hours from Pokhara. Peoples who are looking for a luxury Muktinath tour or having a short time period can choose the Muktinath Helicopter tour. The flight is with 5 or 6 seater helicopters only able to carry 4 peoples or 250 kilogram due to windy route and landing at high altitude region. Helicopter land bit down of the main temple and walking just about 15 minutes.  Perform ritual Puja, darshan, and fly back to Kathmandu with the same Helicopter. 

Muktinath by Motorbike: Motorbike is one of the adventure tours to Muktinath also call Lower Mustang. it is a 5 days tour from Kathmandu and 3 days tour from and to Pokhara. Muktinath is one of the very suitable and famous motorbiking routes in Nepal. A well-managed tour is recommended for this area. Since there is no motorbike repairing centre and fueling, better to travel with a backup vehicle and with a mechanic. 

Muktinath by Local and regular bus from Kathmandu and Pokhara: A night bus leaves from Kathmandu every day at 2 pm from Gongabu Buspark. It reaches the next morning around 8 am in Jomsom and another 2 hours by local jeep or bus to reach Muktinath temple. From Pokhara, the bus leaves at 7 am morning and reach by evening Jomsom. Overnight should there in Jomsom since there won’t be any local transportation available in the evening time.
Local Bus to Muktinath
Local bus from Kathmandu to Jomsom and to Muktinath. The same type of bus is from Pokhara 

Muktinath by Trek: It is a week trekking plan. From Pokhara drive to Nayapool and trek to Ulleri, the second day at Ghorepani Poonhill, third-day trek to Tatopani. From Tatopani to Ghasa, Marpha, and to Muktinath via Jomsom and Kagbeni on day 6th. This is the old famous route until no vehicle in this region. Now all the dusty roads and crowds of vehicles almost collapse this famous trekking route.  Another short trekking can start at Jomsom airport. It is a day trekking from Jomsom to Muktinath and overnight. This way can explore local places, peoples and nature. 

Temperature in Muktinath
Muktinath is in wind valley at the altitude of 3,800 meters mountain region. It is a cold place. The minimum temperature in the winter will be up to minus 19. Snowfall falls normally in the month of January February. The maximum temperature is about 32 degrees centigrade in the season of summer.    

What is the best time to visit Muktinath?

Spring and autumn is the best season to visit Muktinath. It is March, April, May, September, October, and November months. Temperature is warm in the Muktinath region in these months. If you could travel Muktinath in the rainy season that is June, July, and August more beautiful with the rainfall in plateau land. More greenery and blooming flowers make the area more charming. But driving route might be blog due to heavy rain and weather is not suitable every day to fly Jomsom airport.

Permit to visit Muktinath
Muktinath is inside the Annapurna conservation area. Every foreigner other than Nepali has to obtain Annapurna conservation area permit and a TIMS card either from Kathmandu or from Pokhara. If permit issue on the spots, they have to pay double the cost. Annapurna conservation area permit cost NPR 3000 for foreigners, NPR 1,000 for Indians. TIMS cost 2,000 for foreigners and 600 for Indians (SAARC countries)

Accommodation and foods in Muktinath
Ranipauwa village below the Muktinath temple is full of hotels, restaurants, and guest houses. It is available simple guesthouses, medium ranges of Hotels and high quality too. There is now a 3-star category Hotel. Room rates at normal hotels and guest houses are 600 to 1500 Nepali rupees.
Ranipauwa Village in Muktinath
Ranipauwa village near Muktinath temple. Hotels accommodations are inside this village. Picture from wikimedia.org

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