Muktinath Temple (Chumig Gyatsa) is located at the laps of snow-capped mountains at Thorong-La mountain pass at an altitude of 3710 meters above sea level in Mustang district of Nepal. This temple is covered in one of the famous trekking route of Annapurna Circuit.
The Pagoda style Muktinath Temple is symbol of the religious symbiosis between both Hindus and Buddhists. Hindu believes that lord Vishnu got salvation from curse of Brinda (wife of Jalandhar) here. Therefore he is worshiped as Muktinath (Lit. the lord of salvation). The holy shrine, which is said to have risen on its own, is one of eight such shrines (the others include Srirangam, Sri Mushnam, Tirupati, Naimisaranyam, Thottadri, Pushkaram and Badrinath). It is also one of 108 Vaishnava shrines. Here in the early 19th century the Hindus consecrated a Vishnu Temple and named is Muktinath - Lord of Liberation. Against a backdrop of incredible starkness you can sit and stare to the south the snow covered Annapurna range, or to the north the Tibetan plateau.
Muktinath Temple word is derived from Mukti and Nath. "Mukti" means "Salvation or Nirvana" and "Nath" mean "God or Master". Mukti Holds grate significance for all spiritual people in the south Asian sub continent. Muktinath this Sanskrit name itself has religious overtone and a sort of emotional ring to it for the devout Hindus. The name is synthesis of two words - (the provider of salvation) has been one such holy site, where thousands of devotees flock for attaining the much sought after moksha (Freedom) from the cycle of birth and rebirth. It is an ardent wish or a dream if you may say, of every Hindu to get Mukti-Nirvana from this cycle taking births over and over again. It is belief of the Hindus that this world is "MAYA" (an illusion) and the earliest one gets out of it the better and a visit to Muktinath will help them achieve that goal. Since then it called Muktinath.The Hindus call it Muktichhetra (place of salvation) is one of the four religious sites. Many Shaligrams (Ammonite) found during Muktinath Tour over here are considered by Hindu as incarnation of lord Vishnu and worship them. According to Hindu Myth lord Vishnu turned into Shaligram because of Brinda's Curse. Muktinath Temple is opened throughout the year but especially in Rishitarpani, Ram Nawami, and Bijay Dashami thousands of pilgrims gather here to celebrate the festival.
- Mukti Kunda: Two holy water ponds known as "Laxmi Saraswoti Kunda" located in-front of the temple. Taking plung here is believed to rinse away your sin.
- Mukti Dhara: 108 water spouts (bull head shape) in the back yard of this temple where holy water (chill) from Gandaki river flows continuously. Taking bath under all these 108 Muktidhara is believed to bring salvation.
- Jwala Mai Temple: Continuously burning holy flame from rock located inside Dhola Mebar Gompa is just five minutes walking distance, situated in the south region of the temple.
- Mharme Lha Khang Gompa: Monastery located in the north region of the temple is dedicated to Guru Rimpoche also known as Padmasambhava.
- Swaminarayan: Satguru of Sabij Yoga.
- Shaligram: Fossils of the Jurassic park age that is found in Kali Gandaki River. This black stone is the symbol of lord Vishnu and kept in prayer room in the home.
- By Road: Day 1: Kathmandu to Beni - 306 km - 8 hrs. Day 2: Beni to Muktinath - 5-6 hrs.
- By Flight: Day 1: Kathmandu to Pokhara - 25 mins. Day 2: Pokhara to Jomsom - 15 mins then drive to Muktinath - 1 hr.
- By Helicopter: Day 1: Kathmandu to Muktinath - 1 hr 15 mins & return
- By Trekking: Day 1: Drive Pokhara to Nayapul - 1 hr & trek to Tikhedunga. Similarly night stay at Ghorepani, Tatopani, Ghasa, Marpha, Kagbeni then to Muktinath. Average walking 6-7 hrs.
March, April, May, September (mid), October, November are considered as the best time to visit Muktinath Temple. During these months weather used to be clear all the day and snow capped mountains will be welcoming you with big smile.
Before beginning your journey from Pokhara to Muktinath by road, trek or by flight, you shall required to collect two permits. They are:
- Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit (ACAP): This permit can be collected from Nepal Tourism Board located at Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu or at Pokhara &
- Trekker's Information Management System Permit (TIMS). This permit can be collected from TAAN located one at Saatghumti, Thamel and another at Mali Gaun, Kathmandu or at Pokhara.