If you are in Nepal, there is a high chance of being in proximity of temples, shrine or any religious sites. This scared country where religion is not just a belief, but also a way to live our life. Religion in Nepal defines scales persuasion and places the bar of freedom. As strange as it may sound, religion is what we abide to avail.
And, temples are way towards that belief, they are the ultimate door to the celestial one. Pashupatinath is the mecca of Hindu followers, while Lumbini is to Buddhists. In the long list of such sacred sites, Muktinath is one of the prominent temples which has been revered by both Hindus and Buddhists for a long, long time.
About Muktinath Temple
Along with the religious essences, its high altitude location of 3,710 meters has drawn both pilgrims and adventures from around the world.
Muktinath is also referred as Mukti Kshetra within Hinduism, which means “place of liberation or moksh.” It is considered to be 106th among the available 108th Divya Desam (premium temples), which are considered sacred by Sri Vaishnava sect.
Muktinath was called Thiru Saligramam before Buddhist origin as per Sri Vaishnava. You can find saligram shila in the temple, which is considered to be the naturally available form of Vishnu. The temple is also one of the 108 siddhpeeth and is named Mahadevi.
Although Muktinath is believed to have Vaishnav origin, it is also worshipped in Buddhism because Guru Padmasambhava mediated here for some time. In another hand, Tibetan Buddhists have another belief, and according to it, Muktinath is an important place of dakinis, goddesses known as Sky Dancers, and one of the 24 Tantric places. As per the statue is a manifestation of Avalokitesvara, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.
About the trek
Jomsom-Muktinath trek is a remarkable trek along the splendid mountain views, ancients temples, and monasteries along the windy valley. In addition, the diverse landscape and culture en route will give marvelous insight into way of life of rural Nepal.
Kali Gandaki gorge is another thing to look forward to in this trek. Walking through the gorge carved by the river of Kali Gandaki which originated in Tibetan is very chilling and thrilling.
Making the trek even more interesting, the layout of villages and design of houses are unique in this area, especially in Jomsom. As traditional the houses may look, they were designed to protect the inhabitants from strong winds that blow up the valley every day from the late morning onwards.
Attractions of Jomsom-Muktinath Trek
This trek takes place on the region of Annapurna, which is dominant in trekking in Nepal. Located in central Nepal, it homes glorious range of mountains including Annapurna I at 8,091 meters.
Along with the mountains, view of lush, fertile farmland, serene natural forest, mixture of varied ethnic groups; these all factors constitutes a diverse range of experience making Jomsom-Muktinath one of the most satisfying treks in Nepal.
Kagbeni, also known as the gateway to Upper Mustang is the medieval village which is very much influenced by Tibetan culture. The village lies at the bottom of Muktinath Valley scattered with abandoned settlements and irrigation fields. Looking at the ruins, one is compelled to think about why these places were abandoned, but the answer is yet to be known.
However, the legend suggests Kagbeni was founded when two of these villages were destroyed by a demon that had a head of lion and body of serpent. The surviving members came together and founded a village which is modern-day Kagbeni.
Kagbeni is also a historical village where a fortress was built by Muktinath Valley’s king for his son in second half of 16th century before the village was founded. Also, the village’s most recognizable landmark is a red monastery.
Well, all these history and mystery surrounding this place, make Kagbeni one of major highlight of Jomsom-Muktinath trek.
Marpha is just a regular village you encounter en route. However, Marpha is quite different and extra special. The name of Marpha itself has a very interesting derivation; mar means hard working and pha means people. What makes Marpha unique is the apples, yes, you heard it right. The apples of Marpha is famous around the country with its juicy and savory taste.
Marpha is also known as the apple capital in the Nation with Marpha brandy and jams produced from local fruits.
Jomsom-Muktinath trek is one of major trekking route in Annapurna region. With its an immense natural beauty and cultural flavor, it certainly lures thousands of trekkers.
This signature trek in Annapurna region begins from Pokhara. Landing at Pokhara, we drive towards Tatopani via Nayapul and Beni. Our trails descend towards Kali Gandaki river and moving further on the distant view of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Tukuche is just too breathtaking.
Continuing the trek along quaint settlements of variety of ethnicity, lush sceneries, and making friends with heartwarming peoples of Himalayan peoples, we will arrive at Kagbeni in five days of trek from Tatopani. En route we will get pass many villages like Ghasa, Titi, Tukuche, Thini, and Marpha.
Arriving at this point in our trek, we are very near to Muktinath. It takes some hours of hike from Kagbeni to finally scale towards Muktinath, a sacred place of salvation. As per the famous belief, bathing in waters of this temple can grant us salvation after death.
Apart from the religious essence of this place, Muktinath is a beautiful place inhabited by different ethnicity like Magar, Gurung and Tibetan roots, the Lopa. Along with the varied ethnicity the beauty to see in their traditional customs and attire is just too charming. This trek is already perfect for natural dwellers; it is also best for admirers of different cultures and customs.
To experience more, you can visit Muktinath in early September to witness one of the unique festivals of Nepal, the annual horse race known as Yartung. In this festival, you can see some serious horse racing and many joyous and vibrant event. It is also an excellent chance to know more about Tibetan style.
Leaving behind the sacred Muktinath, we make our way towards Jomsom. Jomsom, best known for airport and wind is predominated by Thakalis. The reason behind wind is the difference in atmospheric pressure between Tibetan plateaus and lower reaches of valley.
From Jomsom, we fly to Pokhara, where lies some of the most mesmerizing lakes and mysterious caves. After exploring the beautiful valley of Pokhara, we will be on our way to Kathmandu.