Muktinath Temple: An Updated Guide for 2021

106th of the 108 Divya Desam, the Muktinath temple is located at an altitude of 3, 800 meters above sea level in the Mustang region of Nepal. “Muktinath temple” holds great religious essence for people residing in the South Asian subcontinent.  It is latched by snow-capped mountains at Thorong-La mountain pass and called Muktinath Dham and Muktikshetra by Hindu devotees. The term ‘Divya Desam’ stands for 108 Vishnu temples. Of all the Hindu devotees coming here, at least 20% of them embark on this journey for the thrill of it - the rugged terrain, beautiful scenery and spirituality attract them. As Divine Kailash keeps your safety a priority, our team maintains proper COVID-19 safety and precautions throughout your yatra.

Three important Muktinath temple's Divya Desams where tourists can witness Lord Vishnu in three positions are:

  • Kidantha Thirukkolam – Sleeping position.
  • Veetrirundha Thirukkolam – Sitting position.
  • Nindra Thirukkolam – Standing position.

The Muktinath Temple in Nepal is considered to be a perfect ‘place of liberation.’ Buddhists regard this place as Chumig Gyatsa, meaning 100 water. It is one of the 24 Tantric places. The Muktinath idol is one of the eight shrines, namely Tirupati, Srimushnam, Pushkaram, Srirangam, Badrinath, Thothadri, and Naimisaranyam. The divine Muktinath mandir is considered to have appeared on its own. These premium Muktinath Dham temples are considered divinely holy by the Vaishnava sect, and their literature goes back to 1000 BCE. The significance of the name “Muktinath'' has a religious connotation with a sort of emotional ring to it. This Sanskrit name is a synthesis of two words- Mukti Nath. “Mukti'' signifies Salvation or Nirvana and the term “Nath” signifies “master or god.” According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that the world is “MAYA” or the illusion of a life cycle of birth and rebirth. Hindu devotees consider this place as a holy site. Thousands of devotees flock to visit here to find solace and nirvana in Muktinath each year.

Holy Muktinath Temple with Two Mukti Kundas

Muktinath Temple with Mukti Kund
Muktinath Temple with Mukti Kund

Muktinath Temple History

The Muktinath Temple history finds various connotations from different stories. According to one Hindu belief, Lord Vishnu converted into Shaligram due to the Curse of Brinda. Lord Vishnu found his salvation in the Muktinath Temple location. That is why Lord Vishnu is worshiped by the Hindus here. On the other hand, the Buddhists adore Lord Vishnu as Avalokiteshvara (Buddha). Muktinath is a very old Hindu Temple of Lord Vishnu. The temple also has a religious link with Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva.

A significant event in the Muktinath Temple history is the instigation of the structure of this temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Chenrezig at Chumig Gyatsa in 1815 by Queen Subarna Prabha. The queen measured Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa as Salagrama. As per old myths about Muktinath Temple, Salagrama was a sacred site linked to the Gandaki River. At different times, various saints such as Padmasambhava and Mahasiddhas blessed the places with their visits and meditation. The Tibetan Buddhist nuns are the customary concierges of the Muktinath Temple. Tibetan Buddhists believe that the Muktinath Temple location houses twenty-one Taras and female goddesses like Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswati, and more. The temple is also believed to be the home to loads of Dakinis. The Dakinis are recognized as Sky Dancers- vigorous and lively female beings who are considered to bring the movement of power and vigor in space.

A Little Bit About Muktinath Temple

The central shrine of the Muktinath Temple God Sri Muktinath is one of the eight most sacred shrines for Hindu Vaishnavas, known as Svayam Vyakta Kshetras. The Muktinath Temple is considered a Shakti Peetha. Shakti Peethas are the holy abodes of fallen body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi. The body parts were scattered at different locations when Lord Shiva carried the burnt corpse and wandered. The “Shakti” of Muktinath Mandir shrine is addressed as “Gandaki Chandi” and the “Bhairava” as “Chakrapani.” Sati Devi’s forehead temple is believed to have fallen here.

Though small, the Muktinath Temple is one of the most ancient Hindu temples of God Vishnu. The statue of the Muktinath Temple God Lord Vishnu is enormous, made up of real gold, and is often compared with a tall man. The outer courtyard or the prakaram has 108 bull faces. Water is poured through these bull faces. The sacred water that flows through 108 pipes around the temple complex depicts the sacred Pushkarini waters or Temple Tanks from all 108 Sri Vaishnava Divya Desams. There is an old Buddhist monk present in the temple. The worship rituals are conducted by Buddhists.

The Geographical Location Of Muktinath Temple

The Geographical location of Muktinath Temple is in the Muktinath Valley at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass in Mustang. Mustang is a mountainous kingdom in Nepal in Southern Asia. The height of the Muktinath temple from sea level is 3, 800 meters. The Muktinath Temple is situated 24 km northeast of Jomsom. Situated so high above, the Muktinath height from sea level makes it one of the world’s highest temples.

Religious Importance of the Muktinath Mandir

The Muktinath Temple holds immense religious importance for Hindus and Buddhists. The Muktinath Dham is a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists. With 3, 800 meters altitude of the Muktinath Temple, at the Annapurna Circuit of Nepal, this religious Dham is the ideal example to showcase how two religions can share the same sacred spot with mutual respect and understanding.

  • Importance for Hindus: The Muktinath Temple is the place to attain Salvation or Nirvana. Besides natural fire representing Brahma and the holy waters, Lord Vishnu is worshipped at Muktinath Mandir in the form of ammonites (shilas) known as Salagrama Shilas. You will find many folks on how Vishnu turned to stone and how everything is related to the holy Kali Gandaki River, also known as Salagrama. Here you will find all the elements of life - fire, air, water, earth present together. Another Hindu God connected to Muktinath Temple is Swaminarayan- the creator of Sabij Yoga- which shares the goal of realization and service towards God. At the Muktinath Temple location, Swaminarayan practiced severe penance for two-and-a-half months. This penance helped him to attain the ultimate degree of dexterity. Here you will find small monuments dedicated to him and a place where thousands of devotees flock every year to witness and connect with the mystic of this place.
  • Importance for Buddhists: The common Buddhist name for Mukti Nath is Chumig Gyatsa. The Tibetan Buddhists are the traditional caretakers of Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa. According to Buddhism, Muktinath- Chumig Gyatsa is the haven of 21 Taras- female deities. It is also the residence of Sky Dancers (Dakins). They are dynamic beings in fecund form, reminiscent of the movement of energy in space. The Muktinath Mandir is considered one of the 24 Tantric places by the Buddhists. Padmasambhava and the Mahasiddhas walked on this place and blessed it with their presence. Shabkar, the famous Tibetan yogi, has also visited and connected to this place. The statue of Narsingh Gompa and Padmasambhava is the holiest object in Muktinath for the Buddhists.

A visit to Muktinath Temple is the ultimate way for the devotees to get rid of the cycle of birth and rebirth and attain Nirvana. The Muktinath Dham brings the opportunity to fulfill the goal. The water sprouts in the backyard of the temple sprinkling from the bullheads are believed to be holy. Bathing in this sacred water of the 108 waterspouts is considered to bring salvation. Hindus and Buddhists believe the Muktinath Temple tour is a journey towards redemption.

108 Mukti Dharas in Muktinath temple

108 Mukti Dharas in Muktinath temple
108 Mukti Dharas in Muktinath temple

How To Reach Muktinath Temple?

There are different ways to reach the Muktinath Temple.

1: Muktinath Temple By Road

The Muktinath Temple tour via roadway takes around two nights. The journey starts from Kathmandu while traveling through Pokhara following the Prithvi Highway to Jomsom via Beni, Tatopani, Ghasa, and Marpha and finally reaching Muktinath Temple. The journey starts via a jeep from Kathmandu to Pokhara (206 km), and it takes around 7 hours to cover the distance. After a 7 hours-long journey, the first halt is at Pokhara, where you can spend an overnight. Here you will find different hotels, malls, restaurants, and top-notch facilities. You will also witness varieties of food and live music at various cafes at Pokhara. The next day, the journey starts from Pokhara to Jomsom, 170 km ahead of Pokhara. It usually takes 8-9 hours to reach Jomsom while passing through Beni, Tatopani, Ghasa. The roads down to Beni (100 km) are comfortable. However, the rest of the Muktinath Temple tour of the 70 km journey is off-road. After Beni, the road goes alongside the Kali Gandaki River till Muktinath. The following day, take a jeep and reach Ranipurwa (3, 710 meters). Then hike for 25 minutes, and then you finally reach the temple entrance (3, 800 meters). You can pay the homage on the same day and drive back to Pokhara. You can also stop at Beni if you want to visit other places near the Temple.

The same tour also starts from Gorakhpur UP, India which takes 4 days. On day 1 you travel from Gorakhpur to Pokhara which is 280 KMs and stay overnight. On day 2 you travel to Jomsom by Road or Flight based on your budget. On day 3 you visit Muktinath Temple and return to Pokhara. On day 4 you return to Gorakhpur for your onward journey.

2: Muktinath Temple By Flight

To start the journey, you must fly from Kathmandu to the airport of Pokhara, a journey of 25 minutes. From Pokhara, you take another 25 minutes flight to Jomsom. From Jomsom airport, you need to reach the entrance of Muktinath Temple by driving which is 25 KMs. The nearest airport for your Muktinath Temple tour is Jomsom. There are only early morning flights from Pokhara to Jomsom, only if the weather permits. Therefore, you must halt at Pokhara for a night to board the flight the following day.

3: Muktinath Temple By Helicopter

It takes 1.5 hours to reach Muktinath Temple by helicopter. You must board the helicopter from Kathmandu Airport or Pokhara then reach Muktinath. The helipad is located near the Temple. From there, you need to cover 10 minutes on foot to reach the temple. After darshan, you can come back on the same day to Kathmandu or halt at Pokhara.

4: Muktinath Temple By Road and Flight

The next best way to reach Muktinath Temple is by road, then boarding a scheduled flight. The pilgrimage starts from Kathmandu to Pokhara and takes 6 hours by road (206 km). You can halt at Pokhara overnight and then the following day take a flight and travel to Jomsom, which takes around 25 minutes. Then take a jeep from Jomsom to reach the shrine, a journey of approximately one hour to reach the shrine.

5: Muktinath Temple By Trek

If you are a trekking enthusiast, the Muktinath Temple tour is an adventurous activity. The trekking starts from Nayapul (which is a 1.5-hour drive from Pokhara). You must make an overnight stay at a few places before finally reaching Muktidham. It takes 7 nights to complete the journey to Muktinath Temple by trekking with a duration of 7-8 hours each day. Alternatively, you can take the Annapurna Circuit Trek route to reach Muktinath temple by crossing the Throng La Mountain Pass, it takes 8 to 9 nights to complete the trek.

Buddha Statue in Muktinath Temple

Buddha Statue in Muktinath Temple
Buddha Statue in Muktinath Temple

Altitude Sickness at Muktinath Mandir

The height of the Muktinath Temple is 3, 800 meters above sea level. Not only is the altitude of Muktinath that high, but the market is also situated at an altitude of 3,750 meters. With such a Muktinath Temple altitude, acute mountain sickness (AMS) can be a problem if you arrive directly at Muktinath and spend overnight here. We generally suggest staying at Jomsom, which is 2, 800 meters of altitude for the night, and do a day visit to Muktinath. Many people have headaches, body pain, and vomiting during the night when they directly arrive at the Muktinath Temple location and sleep in a hotel nearby the Temple. If you want to stay in Muktinath, you must stay a night in Jomsom before staying in Muktinath to acclimatize with the height of the Muktinath Temple from sea level properly. AMS symptoms may include headaches, vomiting, tiredness, trouble sleeping, and dizziness. If you have similar symptoms, then you must return to a lower altitude.

Magnificient View from the Muktinath Temple

Magnificient View from the Muktinath Temple
Magnificient View from the Muktinath Temple