Vaishno Devi Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir is an extremely highly revered sacred Shaktipeeth pilgrimage in India. Surrounded by scenic natural beauty the journey to Mata Rani Ka Darbar i.e. the holy cave shrine is a journey which every devout Hindu and devotee of the goddess makes sure to undertake. People often team up this holy visit with a wonderful sightseeing in Jammu and Kashmir which makes the...
The temple of Muktinath which, as the name suggests, is dedicated to the lord of justice form of lord Vishnu. This ancient temple is not only important to Hindus but it also holds significance in the life of Buddhists as well. adorning the barren, expansive and surreally beautiful landscape of the valley of Mustang in Nepal, this temple makes for one of the most offbeat spiritual pilgrimages in Nepal.
People who visit this place of worship are guaranteed to achieve freedom from their sins and get the ultimate justice, especially if they take a holy bath under the water of the Muktidharas, then you shall be granted freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth or moksha / salvation.
People choose to make their way to the temple, braving the rough terrain, challenging weather conditions and other such unpredictable situations which make it one of the most difficult pilgrimages to embark upon. There are a number of ways through which the pilgrims can offer their prayer to the holy idol of the temple i.e. via shared jeeps, car rentals or even better, on foot by trekking your way up the temple and having the most spiritual experience of their life.
How to Reach Kathmandu:
The Yatra for Muktinath mainly commences from Kathmandu, which is considered to be the commencement point. Here is how you can reach Kathmandu first:
- By Air – The airport of Kathmandu is located at a distance of around 6 km from the centre of the city, it goes by the name of Tribhuvan international airport. From here one can get into buses or choose from a variety of transportation services that are widely and easily available there to go wherever you wish to travel.
- By Train – There are no direct trains available for Kathmandu. There is a train however, which originates from Jainagar in India and connects to Janakpur in Nepal. From Kathmandu this station is located at a road journey distance of 6 hours.
- By Bus – Kathmandu can be easily reached via a bus journey from India in Gorakhpur or Varanasi and leads you up to the nearest border for Nepal in Sunauli once there one can easily catch a bus going for Kathmandu in Nepal. A newly introduced bus service that connects New Delhi to Kathmandu over a bus journey of 30 hours.
How to Reach Muktinath Dham by Road / Air:
By road the journey starts from Kathmandu then goes on to Pokhara and finally to the temple via Jomsom. You shall be crossing places like Beni, Tatopani and Kagbeni before reaching your destination. Once you arrive at Jomsom you will be required to shift to jeep service that will drop you off at a distance of 25 minutes from the temple since there are no roads beyond that point. it is a relatively easy hike.
In case you go for the helicopter option then you will be fortunate to have one of the most luxurious spiritual journey in very less time. The helicopter will be flown from Kathmandu which is just 1.5 hours of flying journey and the drop off will be at the Ranipauwa helipad. Then the final 30 minutes of simple hike will commence, one can even choose to go via ponies.
How to Reach Muktinath Dham by Trek (Complete Guide):
Trekking is probably one of the best ways of experiencing the rich spirituality and cultural heritage which has been worshipped here and kept at a very high accord ever since centuries. On an average a spiritual trekking expedition to this place takes an average pilgrim around 10 days and 9 nights to cover. However if you are an avid hiker, trekker or are in anyway used to trudging the mountainous terrain then the walking travel distance can be easily cut short to 7 days and 6 nights. On an average you would be required to walk up to a duration of almost 7 to 8 hours per day.
Here is a brief itinerary of the day-wise trekking plan:
Day 1 – Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 2 – Kathmandu – Pokhara
Day 3 – Pokhara – Ulleri
Day 4 – Ulleri – Ghorepani
Day 5 – Ghorepani – Poon hill – Tatopani
Day 6 – Tatopani – Ghasa
Day 7 – Ghasa – Marpha
Day 8 – Marpha – Kagbeni
Day 9 – Kagbeni – Muktinath
Day 10- Muktinath – Jomsom
Here is a complete route map to give you an idea about the entire plan:
Kathmandu – Pokhara (6hours of drive) – Ulleri (drive of 1.5 hours and 6 hours trekking) – Ghorepani (5 hours trekking) – Tatopani (via poon hill 7 hours of trekking) – Ghasa (7 hours of trekking) – Marpha (9 hours of trekking) – Kagbeni (7 hours of trekking) – Muktinath (6 hours of trekking).
You will have the freedom of changing the itinerary according to your convenience.
Things to remember for Muktinath Trek:
- You will be trekking amidst the open wide, treeless landscape which will seem very challenging. The biggest problem here would be that of ferocious winds which may get harsher with the unpredictable weather conditions. Make sure to carry a wind cheater and layer up on thermals before heading out each day.
- Remember to cover up your ears, eyes and face, since the wind may seem very vicious in some cases. This could be done with the help of a beanie, a fleece turtle neck thermal, gloves and good quality of reflectors.
- If you think that the journey will prove to be very challenging you can avoid that by investing in a good pair of walking shoes, trekking stick and comfortable clothing which does not cause a hindrance to your trekking expedition.
- High altitude mountain sickness can be one of the most unexpected things that may hit you. So you must keep a careful lookout on all the symptoms that may cause this to trigger like – vomiting continuously, insomnia, dizziness, dehydration etc. one of the ways to avoid this is to remain hydrated at all times.
- While trekking make sure to carry a box of essentials like important medications to combat vertigo or high altitude mountain sickness, anti-fever, pain medication, anti-diarrhea medicines, pain relievers, bandages, dettol etc.
- Before going on the Yatra by trekking expedition you must make sure to do some exercise on a daily basis a month prior to the holy Dham journey. It may need not be heavy duty gym sessions but just walking, jogging, aerobics, yoga or breathing exercises for around 20 to 30 minutes.
Best Time to go on Muktinath Dham Yatra by Trekking:
Muktinath trekking trail takes you through an expansive rain shadow region of Nepal i.e. the valley of mustang which is very dry, lifeless and rocky. The weather here remains unpredictable throughout the year. It is best for you to make the trip during the months of September, October and November. During this time the weather changes don’t happen as much and it is clear most of the time however you must prepare very well for every situation that you may face.
Monsoon is another favourable and suitable time for making your way to Muktinath temple by trekking. This includes the months of June, July and August. The temperature does drop but not as much as in the winter months.
Summer is another time when one can easily cover the trek, however this is also the time when tourism and pilgrimage is at its peak. People from all over the world make their way to the holy legendary temple and offer their prayer to the lord presiding within during the months of March, April and May. The sky clears up and the temperature is also perfect for trekking all the way to the ancient temple.
Frequently Asked Questions for Muktinath Dham Trek:
- Is Permission Required for Muktinath Trek?
Due to the location of temple within a heavily protected region of the Annapurna conservative, every trekker should make sure to carry the following permits given out by the government of Nepal before commencing the trekking journey to Muktinath Dham: ACAP and TIMS. The cost of ACAP permit is around Rs, 1,000 NPR whereas the price of permit for TIMS is Rs. 600 NPR. These documentation and permits are taken care of in case you are travelling with the help of a Muktinath package via a travel agency.
- Do I have to carry these permits at all-time throughout the trek?
Yes. There are check-points created that make sure every traveler have their permit with them at all times. In case you are found without the said permits then you shall be heavily fined which will involve you paying double the fees amount.
- Are there organized travel tours available for trekking to Muktinath?
If you don’t think that you are not capable of travelling on your own then you can be a part of the several available organized tours and travels companies that offer this services. However one can easily go by themselves to some sightseeing places in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
- Is it possible to hire a porter or a guide for the trek to Muktinath?
One can easily hire the services of a porter or a guide in order to lessen he hurdle or burden that may otherwise be all dependant on you. The fact of the matter is that the porters also have a very good idea about the landscape of this region and they can guide you properly and help you out in setting up tents, carrying your luggage and lessening the burden. One can get more details on this service in Kathmandu or Pokhara.
- What should I bring to the trek with me?
A majority percentage of the things that you will need can be easily available and hired from Kathmandu and you may rent or buy them upon arriving there. Check out the list of essentials that you may require like the kind of jackets, sweaters, inners, lowers, thermals and other significant accessories like portable chargers, butane gas stove, important camping utensils, mattresses etc.
- What is to be done in case of an emergency during the Muktinath trek?
It is a very highly unlikely situation that you will be facing any sort of emergency or hardship during the trek to Muktinath but just in case you need to know, there is a Muktinath hospital and research centre. There are also air fields and health posts made available for pilgrims seeking some healthcare facility which are not that serious or don’t require that urgent medical care. If there is some unexpected emergency then you have the option of sending a word to the closest village and through radio service one can even attain the services of helicopter evacuation.
- Will I face altitude sickness during this trek?
While trekking on the trail leading to the ancient temple of Muktinath you will be going to a point which will be as high as 3,710 metres above sea level which is even higher than the elevation of the highest Jyotirlinga in Kedarnath. It is not an uncommon occurrence however you must check with your doctor before going for this journey since you may be susceptible to these symptoms of high altitude sickness that are headaches, vomiting, no desire to eat food, weakness, dizziness and dehydration are some common indicators for you to cut your trek short and make your way back to lower elevations. However this is not valid for everyone, some people may not experience any such thing and may experience a problem free trip.
- What are the services and facilities that are available in Muktinath?
The temple location itself does not have any facilities since it goes very off route but there are STD and ISD telephone facilities available for Ranipauwa and Jharkot. Yu can avail the services of hotel and lodging in these parts if your Muktinath Yatra does not get completed in 1 day. Other facilities here include police station, ACAP tourist information offices and centre, water drinking station etc. electricity has also made its way into these lesser known parts of the valley.