A complete Tourist Guide For Muktinath Temple - Updated 2021 - 22 Version
Muktinath Temple: 106th of the 108 Divya Desam.
Muktinath Temple is located at an altitude of 3,800 meters above sea level in the Mustang region of Nepal. It is latched by snow-capped mountains at Thorong-La mountain pass and is also called Muktidham, Muktikshetra by Hindu devotees.
Divya Desams: 108 houses of Lord Vishnu.
The term ‘Divya Desam’ stands for 108 Vishnu temples. 3 important Divya Desams where tourists can witness Lord Vishnu in three positions are,
- Kidantha Thirukkolam – Sleeping position.
- Veetrirundha Thirukkolam – Sitting position.
- Nindra Thirukkolam – Standing Position.
Muktinath Temple in Nepal is the 106th of the 108 Divya Desams, a perfect ‘place of liberation’.
Buddhists know this place as Chumig Gyatsa meaning 100 water and are one among the 24 Tantric places. Muktinath is one of the eight shines, namely Tirupati, Srimushnam, Pushkaram, Srirangam, Badrinath, Thottadri, and Naimisaranyam. The divine temple is considered to have appeared on its own and is 106th among the 108 divine Divya Desam. These premium temples are considered divinely by the Vaishnava sect and its literature goes back to 1000 BCE.
Significance of the name “Muktinath”.
“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.
This Sanskrit name, synthesis of two words, has a religious connotation with a sort of emotional ring to it. Hindu devotees take this place as a holy site where thousands of devotees flock to this solace each year to attain Nirvana. “Muktinath” holds great religious essence for people residing in the South Asian subcontinent.
The Geographical location of Muktinath Temple.
The Muktinath Temple is in the Mustang region of Nepal, which is a mountainous kingdom, located in Southern Asia. Established at a height of 3800 meters over the sea level, the Muktinath Temple has situated 24 km in the north-east direction of Jomsom. Jomsom is the nearest town has a tiny airport which has regular service to Pokhara.
You can also reach the temple after crossing the Thorong-La mountain pass, which is only possible by foot. This famous mountain pass is in the Annapurna Conservation Area which falls under the Mustang district of Nepal.
The must-visit Attractions of Muktinath Temple
If you are going on the Muktinath Tour, these are a few attractions that you must visit.
- Jwala Mata Temple: This temple is in the Southern region of Muktinath Temple and is famous for its spring and the mystical flames. The temple has three burning flames, that appear from the soil, water, and rock and is believed to be the wonder of fire and lighting offered by Lord Brahma.
- Mukti Dhara: If you are going for Muktinath Yatra, do not forget to take a holy bath under the sprouts located at the backside of Muktinath Temple. There are 108 “Dharas” (water sprouts) known as “Muktidhara” where chilled water is sprinkled continuously from the bull-headed spouts. The water comes from Gandaki River and is holy by the Hindus and Buddhists.
- Swaminarayan: This place is dedicated to Lord Shri Swaminarayan. He is a spiritual leader among the Hindus and is also considered to be the creator of Sabij Yoga, a path to attain divinity. It is believed that Shri Swaminarayan practiced sacrament in Muktinath for 2.5 months and achieved the outermost level of aptitude in Nishkamrat. Muktidham is a place to find inner peace.
- Mukti Kunda: There are two water ponds (Kunda) in the frontage of Muktinath Temple. The name of the 2 Kundas is Saraswati & Laxmi Kunda. Devotees flock to this palace to wash away past life sins and Karmas and the holy water of these Kundas adds blessings to everyone that takes a bath in this holy water.
- Pharma Lha Khang Gompa: This monastery is devoted to Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava. Located in the Northern region of Muktinath Temple, and you will be amazed to witness the astonishing clay idol with his deities surrounding the saint. If you are going to Muktidham, this place is a must-visit.
- Sri Murthy Mahatma: Another famous attraction near Muktinath is Sri Murthy Mahatma, where you can witness all the four elements of life- water, fire, sky, air, and earth, at the same place on their own.
- Shiva Parvati Temple: Showcasing pagoda-style, this temple is built at 100 meters away from the divine shrine of Muktinath. It is devoted to Devi Parvati and Lord Shiva.
- Sangdo Gompa: Located near the entrance of Muktinath Temple, this small Gompa is used by the monks and priests of Muktinath Temple for residential purposes. It attracts a huge number of devotees each year.
- Shaligrama or Salagrama: Shaligrama is a relic made of black stone. The stone symbolizes the figure of Lord Vishnu and is not far from the Shiva and Parvati temple.
- Big Buddha Statue: This is one of the most popular attractions of Muktinath Temple. There is a gigantic statue of Lord Buddha sitting and keeping a watch over the Muktinath Valley and Kali Gandaki river. It is a must-visit if you’re going on Muktinath yatra.
The impressive appeal of Muktinath Temple.
- Muktidham brings the opportunity to the devotees for all to get rid of the cycle of birth and rebirth and attain Nirvana, and a visit to Muktinath Temple is the ultimate way to achieve the goal.
- The water sprouts in the backyard of the temple sprinkling from the bullheads are believed to be the holy water that can bring salvation by taking a bath in these 108 waterspouts.
- Hindus and Buddhists believe Muktinath Yatra is a journey towards salvation.
Itinerary to the divine shrine of Muktinath Temple.
There are different ways to reach the shrine of Muktinath Temple. If you are planning on a Muktinath Tour, this article will help you through it.
Option 1: By road
The route of reaching Muktinath Temple via roadway takes around 2 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.
Beginning: The journey starts via jeep from Kathmandu to Pokhara (206 km) and it takes around 7 hours to cover the distance.
First Halt: After a 7 hours-long journey, the first halt is at Pokhara, where you can spend an overnight. Here you will find different types of hotels, malls, restaurants, and top-notch facilities. You will also witness varieties of food and live music at various cafes at Pokhara.
Second Halt: The next day, the journey starts from Pokhara to Jomsom, which is 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 highways and comfortable. However, the rest of the Muktinath Tour of the 70 km journey is off-road.
Next morning, take a jeep and reach Ranipurwa (3710m). Then hike for 25 minutes and then you finally reach the entrance of the temple (3800 meters). You can pay on the homepage on the same day and drive back to Pokhara. You can also halt at Beni if you want to visit other places near the Temple.
Option 2: 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 flight to Jomsom. From Jomsom Airport you need to reach the entrance of Muktinath Temple by driving. The nearest airport to reach Muktinath Temple 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 next morning.
Option 3: 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 20 minutes on foot to reach the temple. After worship, you can come back on the same day to Kathmandu or halt at Pokhara.
Option 4: 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 next morning take a flight and travel to Jomsom, which takes around 15-20 minutes. Then take a jeep from Jomsom to reach the shrine, which is a journey of around one and a half hours to reach the shrine.
Option 5: By trek
If you are a trekking enthusiast Muktinath Tour is an adventurous spot for you. 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 of each day.
Things you need to know about the Muktinath Temple permit.
Before starting the Muktinath Yatra from Pokhara to Muktinath, the tourist requires two permit cards if they are traveling by road or flight or trek. The permits are:
ACAP: The Nepal tourism issues Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit (ACAP). The Muktinath zone is part of the Annapurna Conversion Area and it requires a permit before visiting. The tourism offices of Kathmandu and Pokhara will help you to get the permit.
TIMS: Trekker’s Information Management System (TIMS) is obtained from TAAN which is located at two different locations, you can get the TIMS permit from TAAN offices in Kathmandu or Pokhara. You need the TIMS Permit before visiting Muktinath as it is a trekking zone and you need permission.
What is the ideal time to travel to Muktinath Temple?
Summer and Pleasant months(Summer is the ideal time to start Muktinath Yatra). March, April, May, June, September, October, and November.
Winter(These are the coldest and the roads are covered with heavy snow and fog). December, January, and February.
Rainy Season(There is heavy rainfall and the flights are often canceled). Mid-June to Mid-September.
If you are someone who loves the beautiful snow-capped mountains, then this place is nothing but heaven for you. Muktinath Yatra will offer you an innumerable number of snow-capped mountain regions at a distance all throughout the year and if you visit this holy place during winter months such as December, January, and February you’d be awestruck with the snow hovering across the zone.
However, the rainy season is not an ideal time to visit this holy place as the lower altitude area of Muktinath receives heavy rainfall which makes the yatra extremely dangerous for traveling.
Weather at Muktinath Temple.
The weather of Muktinath is extremely pleasant during summer days where the temperature sets in between 0 degrees and 20 degrees Celsius. But then, during winter the temperature falls significantly lower like minus 15 with heavy snowfalls around the area. However, during the rainy season, it does not rain a lot at Muktinath, but in the lower part of the Muktinath receive heavy rainfall which makes the entire journey extremely hazardous for the travelers.
Religious Importance for Hindus and Buddhists.
Muktidham is a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists. At 3800 meters 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
- For Hindus, 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 Temple 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 simultaneously.
- Another Hindu God connected to Muktinath Temple is Swaminarayan- the creator of Sabij Yoga- which shares the goal of realization and service towards God. Here 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 name for Muktinath is Chumig Gyatsa meaning a hundred waters. 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.
- It is considered as one of the 24 Tantric places by the Buddhists. Padmasambhava and the Mahasiddhas walked on this place and blessed it by 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.
If you are planning on a Muktinath Yatra, this is the ideal time to visit. You will be in awe of the beautiful surroundings along with the amazing weather and atmosphere. If you want salvation and get back the peace of mind, there is no better place than Muktinath.
During your yatra towards Muktinath, you would be seeing an array of snow-capped mountains hovering across the skylines, small yet amazingly picturesque villages that you have only heard in the storybooks. one of the most popular tourist attractions is the humongous Dhaulagiri mountain with an altitude of 8167 meters and it is the 7th largest mountains in the world. If you are traveling via air, you would be spellbound to witness beautiful mountain regions of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. The magical moments come when your flight will travel across the regions of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri mountains (which is at 7061 meters height from the sea level), those pictures are impossible to express in words, it’s nothing but a lifetime experience with your Muktinath Tours.