At the foot of the throng La mountain pass, Mustang, Nepal, in the lap of the greatest Himalayas at an elevation of 3710 meters lies the sacred temple of Muktinath. It is situated near the village called Ranipauwa.
Muktinath is known as Muktikshetra in Hinduism, which literary means “a place to attain salvation”. This temple is considered to be sacred in Buddhism as well. Before the Buddhist origin the place was known as Thiru Saligramam due to the shaligrams- a sort of holy stones that are used to build the temple of The Lord Vishnu- that are found in the Gandaki River flowing nearby. For Hindus, particularly Vaishnavas, this place is considered to be one of the 108 Divya desham – holy land. It is also said to be one of the 51 Shakti peethams. The Buddhists call the place Chuming Gyatsa, which in Tibetan means ‘hundred waters’.
The central shrine of Shree Muktinath is considered to be one of the eight most sacred shrines for Hindu and Vaishnavas. This is one of the oldest Hindu temples of The Lord Vishnu. The god’s idol is of gold and as tall as a man. The outer courtyard has 108 bull faces through which water is poured. Devotees take their sacred bath even in the freezing temperature. The worship is conducted by the Buddhists in the temple.
There are two kundas (water ponds) in front of the temple, which are generally used for holy dipping which is believed to be washing away all the sins.
A little away is the Jwala Mai temple which is of a Tibetan style. Inside this temple there are small natural gas jets that produce continuously burning flames. There are three such eternal flames. They are considered to be holy.
There is a monastery of Tibetan origin which is called Gomba Samba. The main deities here are Sakyamuni, Chingresing, and Guru Rimpoche. The monastery is situated on the left of the entrance of the Muktinath temple.
One of the Hindu Guru Lord Swaminarayana is also believed to have stayed here during the end of 18th century. A small monument for Him is also raised at Muktinath.
The waterway downstream from Muktinath along the Kali Gandaki River is the source of all the shaligrams- black stones- that are required to build a temple of lord Vishnu. This is considered to be an important place of pilgrimage for both Hindus and Buddhists.
Along with these attractions around, the place bears the mythic reference of shaktism as well. It is believed that when goddess Sati (Parvati) immolated herself in the yagna made by her father, and The Lord Shiva carried her along with, variously bodily parts of the goddess fell down at various places. out of all that her forehead temples fell at the place where Muktinath is situated.
Access to this place is difficult because of tough weather conditions. One can fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, and from Pokhara to Jomsom airport. From the airport, jeeps are available for Muktinath. nearest accommodations are at Ranipauwa, Jharkot, Choongar, Kagbeni, or Jomsom.
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