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Muktinath Temple, Mustang Overview

Perched at the highest altitude of the earth is the holiest of holy, Muktinath Temple, standing gloriously as a symbol of religious significance for both Buddhism and Hinduism. It is located in Muktinath Valley in Mustang, Nepal. This holy shrine is close to the rural Ranipauwa, which is often mistaken to be Muktinath.

The temple's name refers to "Mukti", meaning "nirvana, or salvation", and "nath", which signifies "master, or God". Among the Hindus, Muktinath temple is also referred to as the "Mukti Kshetra", which translates to "the place where one receives moksha or liberation".
Of the one hundred and eight sacred Shri Vaishnava temples, Muktinath Temple holds the 106th rank among the Divya Desam, or 'premium temples'. This holy sanctuary is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for both Hindu and Buddhist devotees and is often taken to be an epitome of emotional as well as spiritual cleansing. In addition to religious fulfilment, Muktinath temple attracts people from all over the world for its sheer beauty and tranquillity. Even though this place receives tourists as well as locals throughout the year, the crowd of devotees is huge during festivals like Vijayadashami, Ram Navami, and Rishi Tarpani.

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Best Time to Visit Muktinath Temple

The harsh weather conditions in Mustang may create difficulties in reaching the Muktinath Temple with ease. The ideal time to visit this place is from March to June when the temperatures are relatively warm, and the overall weather condition is pretty pleasant.

Architectural Divisions

The Central Temple
One of the eight sacred shrines, Muktinath Temple, adorns the Pagoda-styled central temple which is home to the gold statue of Lord Vishnu. Even though the size of the temple is small, the main deity is almost the size of an adult man. This central statue in the temple is seen as the manifestation of Padmapani, a compassionate embodiment of all the Buddhas.

Mukti Kunda
Right in front of the temple lie two ponds, named Lakshmi Kunda and Saraswati Kunda respectively. It is a common belief that bathing in these water bodies washes off all negative forces and karma.

Mukti Dhara
The outer courtyard, or the Prakaram, houses one hundred and eight waterspouts shaped like the heads of bulls, through which the sacred water of the Kali Gandaki River flows. This water symbolizes all the Pushkarini waters that are believed to have descended from the one hundred and eight Divya Desams. Devotees bathe in these waters even during freezing temperatures, with the hope of washing away their sins and attaining salvation.

The Legend of Muktinath and Temple History

The Lord of Salvation
A significant sanctuary for both Hindus and Buddhists, Muktinath Temple adorns more than one story. Hindu devotees believe it be the salvation spot of Lord Vishnu; which is why he is worshipped as Muktinath, or, the Lord of Salvation. Muktinath temple is said to have risen on its own; therefore including it as one of the eight shrines which have supposedly existed by themselves.
Muktinath and Dakinis
Temple has one hundred and eight water springs. In keeping with this, the temple is also widely known as Chumig Gyatsa among the Buddhists, which translates to "Hundred Waters." The Buddhists consider it to be an essential place for the Dakinis, the goddesses who are also known as the Sky Dancers.
Even though the religious abode has a prominent Vaishnav origin, the Buddhists also hold it in high reverence, since legend says it is the place where Guru Padmasambhava had meditated for some time before moving on with his journey from India to Tibet.

How To Reach Muktinath Temple

Located at the base of the Thorong La mountain pass, reaching Muktinath Temple may be quite tricky at times. However, the right weather conditions can gain easy access to the place.
By Air
Some flights leave from Kathmandu to Pokhara, and then again to Jomsom Airport. From there, you can book a forty-five-minute helicopter ride to the temple.
Keep in mind:
The helicopter ride may lead to AMS, or Acute Mountain Sickness, and is ideal only for brief journeys.
By Road
Taking Pokhara as the starting point, you can go to Beni, which is a three-hour journey and then travel for another eight hours to Jomsom. From there, you have to travel to Ranipauwa and then trek to the temple via the Annapurna circuit. For those who are not comfortable with trekking, motorbikes and horses are available as well.

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