Muktinath Trek or Muktinath Yatra, What should be your pick?
Muktinath Yatra is a famous religious yatra for Hindus and Buddhists alike. Pilgrims from across the world take up the yatra to visit the famous Muktinath Temple where they look forward to wash away all their sins and attain liberation.
There are two popular versions of this pilgrimage destination. One is the celebrated Muktinath Yatra that is an exclusive trip to the temple. The yatra is mostly taken up by the devotees or the pilgrims who visit the place with the sole purpose of stopping at the famous Muktinath Temple in the Muktinath Kshetra.
The other is the Muktinath Trek. As the name suggests, it involves trekking the region with the famous Muktinath Temple as the final destination. The famous Annapurna Base Camp Trek also involves visiting the religious hub as a sidewalk.
Here is a brief account of the two so you can make an intelligent choice.
There are several ways of reaching the famous Muktinath Temple, these are:
By Road: The pilgrims can take up a bus or a four-wheeler such as a Jeep. The 206-kilometer route from Kathmandu to Pokhara can be completed in about 6 hours. Take a halt at Pokhara for the night. The next day starts from Pokhara and drive to Jomsom. Drive from Jomsom to Muktinath, visit the temple and drive back to Pokhara. The entire trip by road can be completed in 4 to 8 days.
By Road and flight: If travelling by road is a little demanding for you, you can choose to travel by road and flight. Drive 206 kilometers from Kathmandu to Pokhara and stay there overnight. The next morning, take a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom which will last about 15 to 20 minutes. You can take a Jeep from Jomsom and drive to Muktinath. The jeep can only take you till a specific point from where you will have to walk the remaining distance to the shrine. It will take about 45 minutes. For those who cannot walk much, the option of renting a horse for a ride is available as well. Post the darshan, stay overnight at Jomsom. The next morning, you can fly back to Kathmandu or Pokhara, depending on your itinerary.
By Flight: Take a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara, the duration is about 25 minutes. Stay overnight at Pokhara and next morning, take a flight to Jomsom. The distance from Jomsom to Muktinath can be covered by road. On your way back, drive to Jomsom and stay overnight. The next morning, fly from Jomsom to Pokhara and finally to Kathmandu.
By Helicopter: One of the easiest ways to commemorate the Muktinath Yatra is to perform it by the helicopter. Take a helicopter from the Kathmandu airport and reach the temple only in one and a half hours. After offering the prayers, you can choose to fly back either to Pokhara or to Kathmandu.
The second best way to visit the Muktinath Temple is by taking a trek all the way to the temple. Besides the Jomsom Muktinath Trek, visiting the temple also forms a part of the famous Annapurna Circuit Trek or the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. While the first one takes about 10 days, the latter takes about 16 days.
Beni, Jomsom, Muktinath Trek
The Jomsom Muktinath Trek starts from Beni and ends at Muktinath. It is a demanding trek as it takes one to the maximum elevation of 3800 meters. Besides visiting the famous Muktinath Temple, there is much more that one can do at this Trek. Instead, if you have limited time but wish to explore the Himalayan Range, this is the best trek to do!
When you take up the Jomsom Muktinath Trek, you will cover Gurung and Thakali villages, beautiful and colorful apple orchards, Rhododendron forests, Tibetan Plateau and the world’s deepest Gorge, the Kali Gandaki Gorge, also known as Andha Galchi.
The main highlights of the trek are the mesmerizing views of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. You will visit Marpha which is not just a village but is regarded a central place in Nepal for growing apples. Take a walk around the apple orchards, taste some wine and apple products here.
The place has retained its old world charm with its modest white washed buildings and narrow streets. The village is also famous for a Buddhist monastery. Enjoy some time in peace or mediate here. Kagbeni village is another attraction of the popular Muktinath trek. The village is regarded as a gateway to the Upper Mustang region. The visitors can also visit the salt trading route that passes through this village. The route is still functional but only to some extent. The Yak caravans are another sight to behold.
The highest point of the Jomsom Muktinath Trek is the Muktinath temple itself. The pagoda style structure of the temple is definitely a treat for the historians and individuals looking for some old world charm. Not to mention, its high religious reverence for Buddhists and Hindus alike. Visitors ensure they take a holy bath under the 108 water spouts in the backyard of the temple and a holy dip in the kundas or ponds right in front of the temple.
All said and done, if you are physically fit, have a fondness for adventure trips and have some time in hand, you must take up one of the various available options of Muktinath Treks. The treks are a great way of exploring the local culture and lifestyle of a place. Instead, Jomsom Muktinath Trek is regarded as a perfect family trek because of the low altitude, its ease and the fact that it does not require any special physical levels.
Just on the other hand, senior citizens, people who have any medical issues, especially related to heart and respiration must avail the option of Muktinath Yatra to reach the temple. Most of the available options to reach the temple are convenient and time-saving.