There are two ways to get to Muktinath from either take a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom and hike for 7-8 hours from Jomsom or trek all the way from Pokhara through Kali-Gandaki valley, which takes 7/8 days. It is believed that one should visit this temple after competing pilgrimage of four special religious sites in India . This temple held sacred by Hindus as well as Buddhists. The Jwala Mai temple nearby contains a spring and an eternal flame fed by natural gas underground. Jomsom is a major center in the Annapurna region.
Muktinath Temple (Chumig Gyatsa) is located at the laps of snow-capped mountains at Thorong-La mountain. Located at altitude of 3710 meters above sea level in Mustang district of Nepal. Muktinath is a place where the great sage Buddhist guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) came to meditate. It is a perfect place to find fossilized ammonites, known locally as Shaligram, which are found all along the upper parts of Kali Gandaki.
This part of Nepal is inhabited by Gurungs and Magars. In the lower regions of the Kali Gandaki, Thakalis around Jomsom and people with obvious Tibetan roots, the Lopa, around Muktinath and up to Mustang.
Their customs, attire, distinct and this trek is ideal for observing the diversity among the people and their customs. Hinduism dominates the lower parts while as one climbs further up, Tibetan Buddhism predominates.
If you happen to be in Muktinath in early September, you are likely to be in time for one of Nepal’s unique festivals, the annual horse race Yartung.
Most of the route along the Jomsom trek has been described as part of the Annapurna circuit and Annapurna foothill treks. Starting point is Naya Pul on the Pokhara to Baglung road and from there, via Ghorepani and Tatopani, into the gorge of the Kali Gandaki.
Between Tatopani and Lete Khola, you can see dramatic change of scenery. Pine forests crowd in on the trail and the villages take on a quite different appearance.
The layout of the villages and the design of the houses are unique to adapt the environment. The houses are designed to protect the inhabitants from the strong winds that blow up the valley everyday from the late morning onward.
The stone flagged streets with efficient underground drainage system and the flat-roofed houses with a central courtyard make an attractive spot to spend day resting. Taste apple products of this region from the lush orchards up in the valley.
Jomsom is best known for its airport that offers a quick entry or exit to the valley with regular daily flights from Pokhara. The strong winds that blow up the valley prevents flights from taking off from Jomsom after 11 a.m. Jomsom can also be considered a place to use as a base for exploring the upper part of the Kali Gandaki region. There are numerous accommodation options including a high-class resort complex.
An alternative to Jomsom as a base for the trek is the village of Kagbeni which lies a further two-hour walk up the valley. Kagbeni is not as commercialized as Jomsom and certainly much quieter place. This is the furthest trekkers are allowed to go towards Upper Mustang without a special permit and an accompanying Environmental Officer.
For details see the description of Upper Mustang treks. From Kagbeni to Muktinath is a three to four hour trek and trekkers can choose to do this as a day trip or stay at one of the many teahouses available at Muktinath.
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