The temple of Muktinath Trekking is located in the trans-Himalayan locale of Nepal at the foot of the snow-covered ranges at an altitude of 3,800 m. The site is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. Mukti Kshetra, or where the temple of Muktinath is situated, is mentioned in the Hindu Scriptures such as the Ramayana, Barah Purana and Skanda Purana. The place partly owes its fame to the fossil stones, called shaligram – considered holy by Hindus – found along the Kali Gandaki River. The fossil stones are said to represent Lord Vishnu in stone form. The temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is simple in architecture and built in pagoda style. It is believed to have been constructed at the beginning of the 19th century.
As the idol of Vishnu is considered to date from the 16th century, it is presumed that another temple stood there at the site before the current pagoda structure. Many Hindu pilgrims from Nepal and India visit the site to worship Lord Vishnu. Buddhists worship him as Avalokiteshwar. Buddhist nuns and Brahmin priests worship at the temple. Nearby is a temple called Jwala Mai considered sacred and worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists. An eternal blue flame keeps burning in the temple. Nearby, there are 108 sacred water spouts (springs) where pilgrims take a ritual bath. Muktinath lies on the famous Annapurna Circuit trek visited by thousands of foreign trekkers every year. The trek starts from Besi Sahar and passes through Manang and Thorung La Pass (5,380 m) via Muktinath to Jomsom.
Access: Regular flights connect Jomsom with Pokhara. It is then a five-hour walk from Jomsom to Muktinath. Regular buses running between Pokhara and Beni in the Kali Gandaki valley complete part of the journey. A road connecting Jomsom with Beni has recently been constructed. It is likely that regular bus services will start between Beni and Jomsom soon.
4.4 Kagbeni, Mustang
Kagbeni at an altitude of 2,804 m is situated along the Kali Gandaki River at its confluence with the Kag River, west of the ridge where Muktinath is located. It has a number of carved mani prayer stones and chortens, or small Buddhist shrines in the mountains. The confluence is a popular religious site for Hindus for performing the shraddha, or rituals in the name of the deceased ancestors and family members.
Access: Kagbeni is accessible via Jomsom. It is an hour’s walk from Jomsom which is accessible by air and land both.