|Saligramam popularly known as Muktinath, a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists is situated at an altitude of 3,710 metres in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal — the summit of Dhaulagiri in Himalayan Mountain Ranges in Mustang District. Hindus call it Mukthi Kshetra or the Salvation Valley, whereas Buddhists call it Valley Chumming Gyatsa (in Tibetan language it means the place of 108 waterspouts) and believe that Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) the founder of Tibetan Buddhism meditated here on his way to Tibet.
The holy shrine, which is said to have risen on its own, is one of eight such shrines. It is also one of 108 Vaishnava shrines.
Only those who are willing to undergo physical discomfort and rigour can go to Muktinath. Above all, one should have the Grace of the Lord to visit Muktinath. The most convenient route to Muktinath from India is to fly to Jomsom via Kathmandu & Pokhara. Jomsom is a large village on the way to Muktinath where the trek begins.
The main shrine of Muktinath is a pagoda - shaped temple dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. In the walls around it are 108 waterspouts. The Jwala Mai temple nearby has a spring and an eternal flame fed by natural gas. It is believed that one should visit this temple after completing pilgrimage of four special religious sites in India . That is "Chardham Yatra". Once Pilgrimage journey made to this holy Muktinath, holy dip in the Kunda and bath beneath of 108 Dhara is believed to bring about salvation (Moksha).
Muktinath can be reached either take a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom and then walk for 7-8 hours from Jomsom or trek all the way from Pokhara through Kali-Gandaki valley, which takes 7/8 days. Helicopter services are also available from Pokhara & Kathmandu. The trekking route from Pokhara to Muktinath is very scenic as the sight of Annapurana and Dhaulagiri ranges will enchant you as you go along. The next morning when you discover the clear sky and views of mountain, you then discover you are on your special journey to the Muktinath.
Helicopter is ideal for women and the aged as it lands near the temple. One can return to Pokhara on the same day after taking a holy bath in the 108 waterspouts and worshipping the Lord. There are flights between Pokhara and Jomsom during the day. Few airlines operate daily flight during season between Pokhara Jomsom Pokhara between 6 to 10 a.m . There is no other flight after morning hours due to the strong winds that set in around 10 a.m.
Jomsom to Muktinath is about 21 km (250 m to 3700 m altitude) and it takes about 7 to 8 hrs. As the path goes upward, the trail becomes increasingly difficult to walk for more than 10 minutes without resting. Strong winds blow at a speed of 40 to 50 km from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For half the distance to Muktinath, one has to travel on the Gantaki riverbed after which the route branches off. From there the path slowly winds up dusty mountain ridges with hardly a blade of grass. At the end of the 21 km route, there are three villages. Ranipauwa village is close to the temple and as it has boarding and lodging facilities, pilgrims generally stay here.