Nestled amongst the mighty Himalayas of Nepal is the small yet very powerfully revered temple of Sri Muktinath. “Mukti” literally means moksha or liberation or Salvation. This temple has importance in Hinduism and Buddhism, the trek up to Thorong La pass and the view of the Himalayas makes it a tourist hotspot.
Location of Sri Muktinath Temple
The famous temple is located at the base of Khatang Kang(Thorang Peak) in Baraha Gaun in the district of Mustang in the north-central part of Nepal, and it is about 20 km’s northeast of Jomsom at an altitude of about 3800 meters from the sea level. It is a gateway to Mustang from Manang’s infamous Annapurna Circuit Trek route.
As per Hindu beliefs, Sri Muktinath Temple stands for masculine as well as feminine divinity. On one hand, it is considered the most ancient temple of the God Vishnu and the Vaishnava tradition in Nepal as well as one of the 108 Divya Desam, or holy places of worship of Lord Vishnu and, it is also one of the 51 Shakti Peetha goddess sites.
According to Tibetan Buddhism, Chumig Gyatsa is a sacred place of the Dakinis goddesses known as Sky Dancers, and also one of the 24 celebrated Tantric places. Additionally, the site is believed to be a manifestation of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and Virtue. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition states that Guru Rimpoche, also known as Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, meditated here on his way to Tibet.
Inside Sri Muktinath Temple
Sri Muktinath temple contains a human-sized golden statue of Sri Vishnu Bhagwan as Sri Mukti Narayana. In addition to Mukti Narayana, the temple has bronze images of Bhoodevi (the Earth-goddess form of Lakshmi), the goddesses Saraswati and Janaki (Sita), Garuda (the mount of Vishnu), Lava-Kusa (the sons of Rama and Sita) and the Sapta Rishis (Seven Sages created by Lord Brahma
The 2 kundas or ponds in front of the main temple offer the pilgrims a dip which is believed to be able to wash away negative karma, the results of one’s past negative actions.
Around the temple is a wall from the temple where 108 waterspouts (Dhara) name of “Muktidhara” are placed. The 108 faucets are cast in the shape of bulls’ heads, closely arranged in a semi-circle with a gap of hardly a foot between the faucets, are watered by the Kaligandaki river which is ice-cold.
Jwala Mai Temple
The Jwala Mai temple has a spring and there are three eternal flames “Holy flame from the soil”, “Holy flame from the rock” and “Holy flame from water” fed by natural gas. Currently, two flames are continuously burning. The Hindu believes that this miracle of fire lighting was offering made by Brahma himself, (the creator of the universe) set water on fire. Hindus worship the fire as Jwala Mai (Lit. Goddess of fire). The Buddhist believe that Padmasambhava, the great Indian master who inducted Tantric Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet, meditated at this place. The Buddhist living will show footprints which they say are those of the great master. They called it Dhola Mebar Gompa.
Mharme Lhakhang Gompa
After completing prayer and puja at the temple a visit to Mharme Lhakhang Gompa is situated to the North of Muktinath Temple. Mharme Lhakhang is translated as thousand holy lamps. As this monastery dedicated to Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) with his huge clay image is placed center of altar along with bon deities: red Trakpo at right side and blue Singe Doma at left side. Since Singe Doma is a lion-headed deity, Hindu worships as Lord Narasimha and name of monastery Narsingh Gompa.