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Nepal Travel Destination

Nestled in the Northern Himalaya, along the Annapurna Conservation trek route, Muktinath is both a town and has a very beautiful sacred temple. Sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus its elevation is near 4000 meters and it is a pilgrimage site for the followers of these two religions. As close as a days journey from Jomsom, the administrative center of the Mustang District, a visit to Muktinath is on many a tourists itinerary. It is the first town after the Thorang La Pass (5410 meters) and the area produces some of the most spectacular mountain and high desert viewsin Nepal.

Muktinath is one of the few places on earth where elements of fire and water exist together in harmony. Besides the sublime and humbling scenery found along the trek up to Muktinath, its elevation changes instill a sense of spirituality to even the most skeptical of visitors.

Muktinath’s significance as a famous pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists is not unlike that of famous sites of the Bible. The antiquity of Muktinath is unknown but can be guessed to be ancient from its appearance in Puranic literature which dates to even before the Mahabharat Epic era (more than 1000B.C.).

Believed to have super natural power, its temple houses two uniquely special sites. The more popular of the two is the 108 natural springs complex. This is a small courtyard that has chilled water dispensed out of fountains shaped like cow mouths (a sacred animal). The source of the fountain water is said to be unknown, but believed if you wash yourself with the water from all of the fountains your sins will be washed away. Being such a sacred religious site, you are not allowed to take video or photos within the temple perimeter.

The second secret of Muktinath that most people do not know they have to ask to see is the Jwala or three continuous flames burning under water. A small temple has been constructed over this sacred site and devoted to Jwaladevi or Goddess of flame, and for a small fee (donation) you can see the unbelievable flames bubbling up through the running water. To both Hindus and Bhuddists the location where the life elements of fire and water come out of the ground marks the sacred destination. Because of this, followers of both faiths regard Muktinath as a highly important pilgrimage site. For the Hindus, the belief that the creator of the universe, Lord Brahma, set water on fire here. To the Buddhists, the great Indian master and pioneer of Tantric Vajrayana Buddism in Tibet, Padmasambhav, journeyed to Muktinath and meditated here.

Muktinath is a Sanskrit name itself and is of religious significance. The name Muktinath is actually a compound word of the two words Mukti and Nath. Mukti means salvation or Nirvan and Nath means Master, so a pilgrimage this site provides its patron with salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. It is the burning wish, if it can be said so, of every Hindu to get Mukti-Nirvan and be released from the cycle of being born over and over again. To achieve this, the Hindus adopt various means such as fasting, participating in religious gatherings and/or going on pilgrimages to various shrines. It just happens to be that Muktinath is called “the shrine of all shrines” and as such the belief is: if one goes on a pilgrimage to Muktinath, that he need not go on any other, as this journey alone will suffice. This is the reason why some 150,000 Hindus visit this remote part in Nepal every year.

Those visiting Nepal and doing the entire Annapurna trek route will most certainly visit Muktinath. For those on a limited time schedule wanting to visit Muktinath, the easiest way to do so is to take a mountain flight from Pokhara to Jomsom, and trek 1-2 days (depending on ability and reaction to the sudden and extreme elevation changes). From Jomsom, it is now a possibility to arrange a jeep to drive you to Muktinath or depending on availability a pony ride.

Because Muktinath is on the tourist-conscious “round Annapurna” trekking circuit, it has multiple choices of guest houses for accomodations and is said to have some of the best food available in trekking destinations of Nepal, as well.

To view pre-designed Nepal travel packages, see our programs page or the encyclopedia for more Nepal Travel items.