MUKTINATH, the name itself has religious overtone. Muktinath is composed of two words Mukti & Nath where Mukti mean Salvation and Nath mean God. So it holds great significance for all Hindus.
Every year thousands of devotees flock to Muktinath with a desire of attaining moksha or freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth. It is believed that a visit to the temple will help one attain Nirvana from the cycle of taking births over and over again.
It is a belief of Hindus’ that this world is an illusion, the earliest one gets out of it the better, and a visit to Muktinath will help them attain that goal. It is also believed that it is necessary to visit Muktinath once after completing pilgrimage of Chardham Yatra of India.
Muktinath is a sacred & important pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists. It located in Muktinath Valley of Mustang district and is at the distance of about 18 km. northeast of Jomsom. It lies in the central northern region of Nepal at an altitude of about 3800 meters at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass.
The holy shrine at Muktinath lies in a grove of trees and the compound houses Buddhist Gompa and the pagoda style temple of Vishnu. Hindus call it Muktichhetra or the place of salvation. The temple is one of the four religious sites and 51 Sakti peeths.
Some people called this place Salagrama. Shaligrams found here are considered to be the incarnation of lord Vishnu and worship them. According to Hindu Myth lord Vishnu turned into Shaligram because of Brinda’s Curse.
Devotees at South India call this place “Muktidham” which means holy pilgrimage place of salvation. And it is a must for them to visit this place once in their life.
Similarly, Buddhist calls this valley the “Chumig Gyatsa” which in Tibetan language means ‘Hundred Waters’. For Tibetan Buddhists Muktinath is a very important place of Dakinis, goddesses known as Sky Dancers and one of the 24 Tantric places. They believe the idol of Muktinath to be a manifestation of Avalokitesvara.
The temple of Muktinath is small in comparison with other temples but it is one of the most ancient Hindu temples of God Vishnu. The Pagoda style Muktinath Temple is a symbol of the religious harmony between both Hindus and Buddhists.
Hindu regards Muktinath as Vishnu whereas Buddhists regard as Buddha. The idol is made up of gold and is tall enough to compare with a man.
The central shrine of Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa is considered one of the eight most sacred shrines for Hindu Vaishnavas known as “Swayam Vyakta Ksetras” which is said to have risen on its own, the other seven being Srirangam, Srimushnam, Tirupati, Naimisharanya, Totadri, Pushkar, and Badrinath. It is also one of 108 Vaishnava shrines.
The temple remains open throughout the year but especially in festivals like Rishitarpani, Ram Nawami, and Bijay Dashami thousands of pilgrims gather to celebrate the festival.
The most suitable time to visit Muktinath is from March to June, and September to November as the weather conditions would not be favorable to travel in other time. The journey to Muktinath passes through many archeological sites and temples.
View of the snow-covered Annapurna range in the south or at Tibetan plateau in the north are equally mesmerizing.