Jomsom Muktinath Trek – On a Pilgrimage
Nepal is a nation gifted with religious and spiritual wonders, rich mythical stories and graced with either residence or visit of some legendary and widely revered spiritual figures. The unmatched synchronization and harmony between several religions and cultures add to the rich legacy and treasure that this beautiful Himalayan nation enjoys since ages. Apart from the breathtaking mountains, valleys and gorges, cultural and scenic diversity, Nepal also is abode to two of the world’s ancient religions- Hinduism and Buddhism. The place of Jomsom and Muktinath are one of few places in Nepal that offer the visitors with natural beauty and spiritual experience, with the thrill of adventurous trip and the soul-soothing feel that makes the march on the rough terrain worth the effort.
What awaits at Jomsom and Muktinath?
Jomsom (Dzongsam in Tibetan), is located in Mustang District, Nepal. Extending over both the banks of the Kali Gandaki River, it also serves as the District Headquarter of Mustang. The town of Jomsom has wide, sun-soaked and granite-flag stoned street having stone-walled and stone-roofed buildings on the either sides. Stacks of firewood fill up the attics of the houses as the source of energy for household purposes. The rain-shadow area of Nepal has rough terrain and desert like landscape. Another popular destination, Kagbeni, is also located near Jomsom, lying on the trail to the Royal Capital of Lo Manthang.
Muktinath 3,710 m (12,172 ft) is a holy place for Hindus and Buddhists, alike. Also in the Mustang Valley at the foot of the Thorong La pass, this ancient temple is built in the pagoda style dedicated to Lord Vishnu or Avalokiteshwara as the buddhists call him. For Hindus, Muktinath is one of the most important places of piligrimage. Hindus know this place by the name of ‘Mukti Kshetra,’ meaning the “place of salvation.” Similarly, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition consider this place a holy one due to the legend that Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, had meditated at Muktinath on his way to Tibet.
The courtyard of temple has 108 spouts pouring out ice-cold water under which the pilgrims take shower to purify their soul. Around Muktinath are many monasteries such as the Fire Gompa, along with temples dedicated to Hindu deities.
Wandering on the trail for Jomsom Muktinath Trek takes the traveler to such heavenly place where they can behold and be amazed at the marvelous mountains, rugged yet beautiful landscapes, World’s deepest gorge formed by the mighty Kali Gndaki river, diversely beautiful rhododendron forests and cultural schemas and emblems.
Jomsom Muktinath Pilgrimage: Homage to the Land of ‘Religious Harmony at its best’!
The shrine of Muktinath is one of the few places that has stood the test of time in terms of people embracing different faiths with open arms and spreading the message of religious acceptance. Among the religious heterogeneity that exists in the Mustang, the reverence by Hindus and Buddhists alike makes this land the Land of Religious harmony at its best.
Jomsom Muktinath trek on the rough terrain deepens the understanding of religious harmony through the live display of the same since centuries. This holy trail of western Nepal is the pilgrimage to the revered holy site besides being test of one’s inner grit. Meditation by an 18th century Indian sage Swaminarayan for penance and by Tibetan Guru Rimpoche are some of the examples that shows the importance of the place to both the religions.
With snowy mountains at the background, the temple of Muktinath hosts the Buddhist prayers flag as well representing the paradigm of century-old harmony between the two religions. There is smaller metal statues of the Buddhist deities Hopagme, Chepagme and Vajrasattva around the main shrine. The Hindu bells on the one side of the main entrance at Muktinath and the Buddhists prayer wheels on the other side of the entrance is the exemplary display of religious harmony. There is Dhola Mebar Gompa, a Buddhist monastery which is known as Jwala Mai or Goddess of Fire by the Hindus.
Wonderful religious unity is seen in the worship to the main temple. While the Hindu priest starts the day with morning Puja, a Buddhist nun takes the charge for the rest of the day. In the evening, the Hindu priest returns to call the day off with an evening puja and the lamp offering. The festivals celebrated around the Muktinath temple include the Hindu festivals such as Janai Purnima (full moon day of the sacred thread), Ram Nawami (a festival celebrating the glory of Lord Rama), Vijaya Dashami (celebrating the victory of the gods over demons) along with the Buddhist festivals of Lhosar (New Year), Toranla (the archery festival) and Bakchhap (Lama Dance festival).
The Jomsom Muktinath region is a true evidence of cultural and religious synergy, where Hindu temples and Buddhist gompas and chortens coexist. The local Bhotia people follow the tradition of Buddhism, but Muktinath is also one of the most sacred Hindu religious site. The two religions have coexisted in the area displaying mutual respect and support for each other yet maintaining their own identity. This understanding and adjustment to the spirit of the other religion at Muktinath is remarkable indeed. However, due to its remoteness Muktinath dosent see piligrims by the thousands.
Trekking on Jomsom Muktinath trail
Rice terraces and villages inhabited by the indigenous people, opportunity to relax in natural hot spring at Tatopani, Kagbeni, the entry point of upper Mustang Region and the gateway to the “Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang” for a glimpse of the ancient traditions still in practice are some of the major attractions of this trail besides the captivating natural scenery. In Jomsom Muktinath Trek route are typical Mustang village such as a Tukuche, Marpha and Jharkot with its medieval king Palace and Bonpo gompa where the modern civilization and the ancient traditional and archeological values rug their shoulder.
We, at Euro Asia Trek, offer the celebrated march on the valley of Jomsom for the Jomsom Muktinath Trek to experience the blend of pilgrimage and adventure.