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Of many scared shrines spread all over the country, Muktinath is one of those, revered by Hindus as wells Buddhists. Not only the reverence for this place is high, but as Muktinath is located in high altitude, Muktinath Trek is equally coveted by the trekkers of Nepal.
Well, what lies in this spiritual land and what are the various way to scale this destination, let us take a moment to know everything about Muktinath trek and temple.
Muktinath is located in the popular trekking region of Nepal, Mustang. Situated at 3,710 meters, Muktinath altitude is pretty high, making it one of the highest altitude temple and a perfect trekking destination as well.
Its very name “Muktinath” comprises two words; Mukti meaning nirvana (salvation) and nath meaning God. While as per Hindusim, it is known as Mukti Kshetra meaning “place of liberation.” As the place is venerated by Buddhists as well, it is called Chuming Gyatsa, meaning “Hundreds Water in Tibetan.”
Worshipped by different religion group, the belief towards the shrine is unlike too. However, after completing prayers and worship at the temple, both Hindu and Buddhists pilgrims visit nearby Mebar Lha Gomba, a small monastery of “miraculous fire,” situated at the entrance gate of the temple.
It is widely believed that Muktinath arose on its own and is one of eight such shrines; Badrinath, Tirupati, Sri Mushnam, Naimisaranyam, Srirangam, Thottadri, Pushkaram, and Naimisaranyam
Build in a pagoda-style; it is one of the 108 Shakti Peethas. According to Hindu beliefs, Shakti Peethas are the sacred abodes of Shakti (primordial cosmic energy) formed by the falling body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it and wandered.
However, Muktinath is a Vishnu temple, which was consecrated in the early 19th century.
-Adhering to the Hindu belief, it is where Lord Vishnu got salvation from the curse of Brinda (wife of Jalandhar), and so, it is one of the most ancient temples of Lord Vishnu. Inside the temple resides a human-sized golden statue of Vishnu as Shri Mukti Narayan. Other deities in the temple include Bhoodevi (Earth-goddess form of Lakshmi), Goddess Saraswati, Janaki (Sita), Lav-Kus (sons of Ram and Sita), Garuda (Vishnu’s mount) and Sapta Rishis (seven sages created by Lord Brahma). Even in the Hindu scripture of Vishnu Puran with the Gandaki Mahathmya, the importance of Muktinath in mentioned.
-As Muktinath is revered by Buddhists as well, it is believed that Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), the founder of Tibetan Buddhism meditated at Muktinath on his way to Tibet. The monastery in the entrance of the temple is dedicated to the Guru Rinpoche, which has a statue of Buddhist deity Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara) and is famous for its continuously burning natural gas fire. Hindus worship it as Jwala Mai (Goddess of Fire).
-Likewise, for Tibetan Buddhists, it is a sacred place of Goddess Dakinis (Sky Dancers) and one of the 24 tantric places. The statue inside of Avalokitesvara is believed to be the embodiment of the compassion of all Buddhas.
-According to Hindu mythology, the world is a maya (illusion) of a life cycle of birth and rebirth, where everyone seeks to rid of this cycle and attain nirvana (enlightenment). So, visiting Muktinath is believed to help you achieve this goal. The 108 waterspouts in the backyard of the temple, known as Muktidhara and two kunda (ponds); taking a bath in those 108 waterspouts and two kunda (ponds) is believed to bring salvation. No matter the freezing temperature, devotees do take a bath.
-As per Hindu and Buddhist tradition, Muktinath is the only place on Earth where you can find all five elements from which the universe are made; fire, earth, air, water, and sky.
-Muktinath is also considered to be the most-scared place to worship Lord Vishnu. It is believed one has to be gifted to get darshan (divine presence) as the deity residing in the temple, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Sri Devi, and Bhoodevi is believed to give Jeevan Mukti, hence called Muktinath.
Trekking from the windy valley of Jomsom to the sacred land of Muktinath is a popular trek in Nepal. It is a popular trek in the Annapurna region and can be included in Annapurna Region.
The world’s deepest gorge of Kali Gandaki, the grandeur of the Himalayas including Annapurna peaks, Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri and the verdant forests with varied vegetation is what makes Jomsom to Muktinath trek remarkable.
Along with the striking natural beauty, the cultural exhibition in the trek is impressive as well. In the lower region of Kali Gandaki are Gurungs and Magars, Thakalis are in Jomsom and Tibetan-influenced settlements, the Lopa around Muktinath. The cultural contrast from Hinduism to Tibetan Buddhism during Muktinath trek is remarkbale to witness.
During this time of the year, trekkers from around the world flood Nepal to embark on their desired destination. It is time when weather is neither too hot nor too cold, so for Muktinath trek as well, autumn serves you the best.
As the monsoon has just ended washing off all the pollution and dust, making the trail refreshing and giving a clear view of the mountains against the contrast of the blue sky.
Another best time for embarking on Muktinath trek, when the colorful flowers of rhododendrons bloom so mesmerizing and the temperature is moderate and days are crystal clear. A great time for enjoying Muktinath trek, while witnessing the rich natural beauty.
Summer is the best season for trekking in rain shadow areas like Upper Mustang, Annapurna region, Manaslu, Upper Dolpo, Upper Mustang, and so on. You can go for these destinations in summer as these regions are out of reach of rain clouds because of huge mountains and unaffected by the monsoon.
While for Muktinath, summer season can be challening as the landslides on the way is a constant threat. Moreover, flights to Jomsom gets usually get cancelled due to bad weather.
Of course, winter is cold and bitter, and as Muktinath is located above 3,500 meters, you can certainly expect some extreme experience. However, no matter the temperature, walking will keep you warm. Also, trekking around 3,500 meters in winter doesn’t possess any futher threat exceot the cold. Another best option would be to take Muktinath tour by helicpoter.
Earthquake 2015 was devastating, which took thousands of lives and ruined many anicent heritages. Even after years of that earthquake, trekkers in Nepal are still doubtful if the destination and the trails are safe enough to walk.
Even the three major trekking region of Nepal; Annapurna, Everest and Langtang witness a devastating damage, Muktinath was spared. So, be assured, Muktinath is safe to go for.
Obviously, trekking is the best option to unravel the defined natural beauty, walking to the sacred site of Muktinath. Jomsom Muktinath Trek is a popular trek that takes around 10 days.
As the utmost altiude reached in this trek is in Muktinath at 3,710 meters, difficulty won’t be a problem. Beginners and solo trekkers can walk on this trek too.
If you are short in time and have no time for trekking, then you can go by road too. Taking a option by road, you will first reach to Pokhara, then comes Beni, Tatopani, Ghasa, Marpha, Jomsom, Kagbeni and finally Muktinath.
The road journey to Muktinath is no less an adventure, as after crossing Beni, the roads are rough and bumpy.
For more quick option, you can take a flight to Jomsom from Kathmandu and hire a jeep to Muktinath.
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