Hey you all,
So after extensive painstaking planning and re-planning, I finally visited Nepal along with my lifelines, my mom and dad. My parents are special, so special that they love traveling (just like me) however will put the need for traveling in the name of “spiritual awakening”. Most of the time, I accompany them solely for their amusing company (they are the best and the worst). Its not like I do not believe in God, but I call myself “spiritual” rather than “devotional”. I do not quite understand the requirement of going to a worship place to connect with God. However I do like visiting age old temples and places of worship for the beauty of architecture. Some of the places of worship itself is serene and filled with positivity, that you can feel happier and more peaceful just by being at that location. So, in short I decided to tag along with them on their “spiritual” journey to Muktinath and as part of the deal that I struck with them, they agreed to visit Sarangkot and Nagarkot along with me.
In this post, I would be taking you through my experience in Muktinath. Separate post to follow on top 5 must visit places in Nepal.
So, on how to reach Muktinath. We took a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom (INR.6,000 one way), also there are flights/ buses from Kathmandu to Jomsom for people who want to just visit Muktinath. The flight experience is something I seriously recommend to not miss out on. The 15 seater flight glides across the Himalayas and the view is something to behold. The service is only available in the mornings since after 11am heavy winds blow in Jomsom making the air travel impossible. Look at these pictures and see for yourself what I am talking about.
About the stay. The Jomsom village is extremely minuscule and I think there are only a couple of hotels. We stayed at Hotel Majesty which was right opposite the airport and th stay was cosy and cute. The hotel staff was extremely friendly and cordial and their tea is something I fell in love with.
Next, the travel from Jomsom to Muktinath. The fastest is by helicopter but I would recommend you hire a jeep instead. If you are accompanied by elderly people, then helicopter would be better option as the path is Muktinath is purely off-roading and might not sit well with elders. However for youngsters and middle aged people, strongly suggest to hire a jeep (INR.2000 per round trip). The 1.5 hr ride to Muktinath is an experience. The off-road ride through the Himalayas with only the sound of the engine around, strong winds, Annapurna mountains stretched out with it arms wide open. Simply poetic. Our driver was a Nepali who could a speak bit of Hindi, so we somehow struggled to understand what he was saying. We went through the Kagbeni village and he stopped for us to enjoy the scenery and collect Saligrams.
After the ride, we reached Muktinath village which is atop 12,000 ft above the sea level adorned by Hindu-Buddist culture and heritage. From the village, you need to climb up to the temple which has approximately 500 steps. One can either hire a mule (INR 350 per round trip) or can enjoy the beauty and walk.
On the way, there is a Jwala Mukhi temple which I would suggest you visit however tired you are. This temple was what fascinated me more than the Muktinath temple. The idol situated in this temple is beneath the ground and you need to bend to see the idol. What you see is a pair of glowing substance which looks like pair of eyes, which is why the goddess is called Jwala mukhi (Glowing face). Fascinating is the word. The architecture of this temple was also far interesting than the Muktinath temple, even the drain from which the water from the temple flows out was built with artistic touch.
After visiting this temple, we continued to ascend to the main temple. There are two small pools constructed outside the temple for pilgrims to take a dip before entering. The idol now. I have been to almost 80 odd temples out of the 108 divya desams and by far this idol has been the most interesting. I have seen standing, reclining, yogi pose, sleeping, all kinds of postures of the Lord vishnu but this has been the only one with Mongoloid features which made this the most peculiar Lord vishnu idol. Inside the temple there are 108 taps constructed which gathers water from a small waterfall and drips down. Even if we were 12,000 ft above the sea level and the temperature was around 10 degrees, the water was considerably warm and soothing which is another wonder.
Places like this is where you would be able to appreciate the power of God, the Nature itself. It is travel like this, that makes me concrete my belief. I recall a similar wonder in Rameswaram, where there is a sweet water pond on the sea shore called “Villondi theertham”. How the water is sweet amidst being on the sea shore is a mystery but sure is a joke that Nature throws at us but isn’t it something that makes you enforce your belief on a higher power? For me, it indeed is.