The most renowned Muktinath Dham is a very vital as well as holy place for both Hindu as well as Buddhist pilgrims. The pilgrimage destination comes within Nepal’s Mustang district in the valley of Muktinath and is perched at an elevation of approx. 3800m above the sea level. The region bears a unique 3 tiered pagoda type temple. This temple is nestled at the foothills of the Himalayan mountain pass known by the name of Thorong La. High snow wrapped peaks paint the backdrop of the shrine which lies amid a thicket of trees. There are many tourist attractions in Muktinath and nearby.
The main temple enshrines a Shaligram of Lord Vishnu looked upon with great reverence by the Hindu pilgrims. Also, Buddhists consider the deity as a sacred one and name it as Avalokiteshvara; i.e. the Lord of Compassion. In other words, the Muktinath Dham pilgrimage destination symbolizes the most ideal paradigm of age-old spiritual wisdom spanning between Hinduism and Buddhism. The pilgrimage site exhibits a unique coexistence of numerous other Hindu temples dedicated to deities like Ganesha, Shiva etc and numerous Buddhist Chortens and prayer wheels. According to historical records towards the beginning of the 19th century, a Nepal queen had taken the initiative of setting up the Muktinath Dham shrine. A visit to Muktinath is believed to bring one Mukti or salvation from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
Tourists and pilgrims to Muktinath should not miss some of the most notable tourist attractions as listed below-
01. Jwala Mai Temple
The Jwala Mai Temple falls southward of the main Muktinath shrine. The temple site features a spring and three eternally burning flames, out of which two are still active. Pilgrims come to the site to pay their tribute to Jwala Mai, the flame goddess who makes her presence felt by burning as eternal flames. Soil, rock and water are the 3 different sources of the 3 different flames respectively. As per myths Lord Brahma had lit up these eternal flames at this spot. Buddhist pilgrims refer to the site as Dhola Mebar and pour in large numbers to pay their tribute.
Muktidhara is the name given to the 108 spouts of water flowing out of unique bull’s mouth-shaped faucets, all arranged successively in a semi-circular pattern and each spout is set one foot apart from each other. This collective fountain of Muktidhara is also located on the temple’s hind side. The waters from Gandaki River flow incessantly from out of the faucets and pilgrims make sure to bathe in this Muktidhara streams in order to free their mind and body of the bad impact of negative deeds prior to entering the Muktinath shrine. However, one requires immense piety and determination to bathe in these streams as the water is freezing cold.
03. The Kundas
Just in front of the temple of Muktinath, there are two ponds or Kundas. Lakshmi Kunda and Saraswati Kunda are the two holy ponds. The waters of these Kundas are considered extremely holy and a dip in these waters is believed to absolve one’s Karmic sins.
04. Gomba Samba
This is a relatively new monastery in terms of its age. This monastery falls to the left-hand side of Muktinath temple’s entrance gate and also enshrines the much-revered images of Guru Rinpoche, Chingresig and Sakyamuni
05. Kali Gandaki River
Once you are at Muktinath Dham, make sure to visit River Kali Gandaki. The river is an ancient river and also its waters are considered sacred enough to wash away one’s sins. Jurassic Era’s fossil fuels are found in the river bed of Kali Gandaki. And that has called forth the interest of many scientists and anthropologists. It is said that if you look for fossils in the waters of the river you may lay your hands upon one if you are really lucky or else you may keep searching for hours without any positive results.
If you get hold of a black stone Fossil called the ‘Shaligram’ you are believed to have been blessed by God. According to common Hindu religious beliefs, the Shaligram stone is a sacred one as it denotes ‘Lord Vishnu’. One who finds that fossil has to honor by placing it in his/her puja room.
06. Swaminarayan Monument
Sabji Yoga order’s revered saint and Satguru is Lord Swaminarayan. The Sabji Yoga order runs on the philosophy of service to the supreme Lord. Towards the end of 18th century, Lord Swaminarayan chose Muktinath Dham as his venue for a rigorous penance. As a result, he attained great divine proficiency in the Nishkam at. In year 2003 the disciples of Lord Swaminarayan financed the construction of a new boundary wall around the Muktinath shrine. And also constructed a monument in the honor of the saint. Visiting this monument is one of your religious duties when you are at Muktinath Dham.
07. Sri Murthy Mahatma Darshan
Pilgrims to Muktinath Dham should not miss the opportunity to pay a Darshan to Lord Murthy Mahatma and his consort, Sri Devi Thayaar. A mention of these deities is made in the sacred compilation named as Nalayira Divya Prabandham. This holy site lies in vicinity to Jwala Devi Temple and is considered to be a home to all 5 elements; I.e. air, water, fire, earth and sky that comprise life on earth.
Also, the area around Muktinath is dotted with many other attractions which you may consider visiting during your Muktinath Dham Yatra. For instance, Muktinath dham has seven renowned historical sites around it. These seven sites are as follows- Putak, Purang, Jhong, Jharkot, Chhokar, Khinga, and Ranipauwa. Pilgrims can consider visiting these sites in order to make a fascinating journey back in time. Also, there are numerous Buddhist Gompas and monasteries all around Muktinath Dham. Lighting a candle in any one of these Gompas will indeed be a soul exhilarating experience. Also, you could go around exploring the spell-bounding landscape and embark on a trek along the course of River Kali Gandaki.