The beautiful Saligramam, or as it’s popularly known Muktinath, is a sacred pilgrimage site regarded highly in both the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. From here, at a height of 3,710 meters, the world seems to open up in all its glory with stunning views of the magnificent Himalayan Mountains. There are many legends that tell how the holy shrine of Muktinath rose up on its own accord amongst seven others, which include Srirangam, Tirupati, Sri Mushnam, Thottadri, Naimisaranyam, Pushkaram and Badrinath. The holy shrine is also considered to be part of the 108 vaishnava shrines found here.
Most people wishing to travel to Muktinath will start their journey at Kathmandu from where they will take a quick flight or catch an excruciatingly long bus ride to Pokhara. Pokhara is the starting point for the trek up to Muktinath and the climb up the mountain is incredibly beautiful and worthwhile. At the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass, you will find the Muktinath temple complete with beautiful craftsmanship and mystical aura. The holy temple features 108 different waterspouts which is probably why the Buddhists call it Chumig Gyatsa, Tibetan for ‘Hundred Waters’. The different elements of earth, fire and water are artistically combined at this sacred place of worship to create a special atmosphere where one truly feels that they can find salvation. Hence the Hindus call the temple ‘Mukti Kshetra’ which means ‘place of salvation’.
It is interesting to note that Muktinath is considered to be one of the 24 Tantric places in the Tibetan Buddhist faith. According to tradition, Guru Rinpoche, who founded the Tibetan faith, stopped here to worship the Dakinis or ‘sky dancing goddesses’ on his way to Tibet. For Hindus the importance of the shrine is a bit different. Hindu Vashanavites consider the Muktinath shrine to be one of the eight most sacred shrines on earth. They consider the Muktinath to be one of the 108 holy places where a person should worship lord Vishnu. Whatever you believe, a trip to the Muktinath temple and shrine is definitely worth a visit. It features stunning water features, breath taking views and a man-sized idol of gold. Keep in mind that the best time to visit is between March and June since weather conditions at other times of the year make travel here difficult. As if the temple itself wasn’t enough, you will also see a number of great attractions along the way. So start making your plans to hike to the Muktinath temple in Nepal