Muktinath Temple

Muktinath Temple

Muktinath Temple
Muktinath Temple
Location in Nepal
Other names Saligram
Coordinates 28°49′0″N 83°52′15″E / 28.81667°N 83.87083°E / 28.81667; 83.87083Coordinates: 28°49′0″N 83°52′15″E / 28.81667°N 83.87083°E / 28.81667; 83.87083
Country Nepal
District Mustang District
Location Muktinath (Dhawalagiri)
Primary deity Muktinath
Consort Sri Devi Thayaar
Festival deity Sri Murthy
Temple tank Gandaki River or Chakra Theertham
Shrine Kanaka Vimanam
Architectural styles Pagoda
Muktinath and Dhaulagiri (8.167 m)

Muktinath is a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists located in Muktinath Valley at an altitude of 3,710 meters at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass (part of the Himalayas) in Mustang, Nepal. The site is close to the village of Ranipauwa, which is sometimes mistakenly called Muktinath as well.

Within Hinduism, it is called Mukti Kshetra, which literally means the "place of liberation or moksha". This temple is considered to be the 105th among the available 108 Divya Desam, which are considered sacred by the Sri Vaishnava sect. The ancient name of this place in Sri Vaishnava literature, before Buddhist origin, is Thiru Saligramam. This houses the Saligrama shila, considered to be the naturally available form of Sriman Narayana[1] the Hindu Godhead. It is also one of the 51 Shakti peethams.[2] The Buddhists call it Chumig Gyatsa, which in Tibetan means "Hundred Waters". Although the temple has a Vaishnava origin, it is also revered in Buddhism.[3] For Tibetan Buddhists, Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa is a very important place of Dakinis, goddesses known as Sky Dancers, and one of the 24 Tantric places. They understand the murti to be a manifestation of Avalokitesvara.[4]

The central temple

The central shrine of Sri Muktinath is considered one of the eight most sacred shrines for Hindu Vaishnavas, known as Svayam Vyakta Ksetras; the other seven being Srirangam, Srimushnam, Tirupati, Naimisharanya, Thotadri, Pushkar and Badrinath. The temple is very small. Muktinath is one of the most ancient Hindu temples of God Vishnu. The murti is of gold and is tall enough to compare with a man. The prakaram (outer courtyard) has 108 bull faces through which water is poured. It is at freezing temperature. The sacred water that flows in 108 pipes around the temple complex denotes all the sacred Pushkarini waters (Temple Tanks) from all the 108 Sri Vaishnava Divya Desams, including Srirangam, Tirumala and Vaikunta, where the devotees take their sacred bath even in the freezing temperatures. There is an old Buddhist monk present in the temple. The worship is conducted by Buddhists.

The Muktinath Temple as a Shakti Peetha

Main article: Shakti Peethas

The Muktinath Temple[5] is considered to be a Shakti Peetha for a yatra. Shakti Peethas are sacred abodes of Shakti, formed by the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it and wandered. There are 51 Shakti Peethas revered by Shaktism, connecting them to the 51 alphabets in Sanskrit. Each Shakti Peetha has a Shakti shrine and a Bhairava shrine in the temple. The Shakti of Muktinath Shrine is addressed as "Gandaki Chandi", and the "Bhairava" as "Chakrapani". Sati Devi's temple on the forehead is believed to have fallen here. The mythology of Daksha yaga and Sati's self immolation had immense significance in strengthening Shaktism. Sati Devi immolates herself in this mythology. This mythology is the story behind Shakti Peethas.[6][7][8]


The Tibetan Buddhist tradition states that for this reason Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, had meditated at Muktinath on his way to Tibet. This temple is praised by many saints of Hindu tradition. The scripts narrating the importance of this temple are available in Vishnu Purana with the Gandaki Mahathmya.

The waterway downstream from Muktinath along Kali Gandaki is the source of all Silas or Shaligrams that are required to establish a temple of Vishnu anywhere in the world. It is considered to be one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for Hindus and Buddhists. It has 108 water springs and this number carries great significance in Hindu philosophy. As an example of the mystery surrounding the number 108, in Hindu astrology, there are mentions of 12 zodiacs (or Rashi) and 9 planets (or Graha), giving a total of 108 combinations. There are also 27 Lunar mansions (or Nakshatras) which are divided into 4 quarters (or Padas) each giving a combination of 108 Padas in total.

Sri Murthy Mahatmyam

This is probably the only place on earth where you can find all five elements from which all material things in the universe are made, according to Hindu and Buddhist traditions. According to the Hindu and Buddhist philosophies these elements are fire, water, sky, earth and air. They are all found at the same place together in their own and distinct form. This place is near Jwala Devi temple.

The entire river bed has Shaligram stones which are used to worship Lord Vishnu.

According to Sri Vaishnava philosophy (a sub-sect of Hindu philosophy), it is considered to be one of the Divya desams (108 in total) or holy places of worship of Lord Vishnu praised by Alwars in a compilation called the Nalayira Divya Prabandha.

It is said that one has to be gifted to get the darshan of Lord Sri Murthi and Goddess Sri Devi.


A local nun manages the pujas in the temple. Pilgrims who go there are expected to offer a prasad to the deity.

Darshan, sevas and festivals

The most suitable time to visit Muktinath is from March to June, as the weather conditions would not be safe enough to travel in other months. The journey passes through many archeological sites and temples.

Sri Vaishnavic reference

Sri Vaishnava tradition is a sub-sect of Hinduism, predominant in present-day Tamil Nadu in southern India. Many great devotees (bhaktas) have contributed to it, the most prominent of them being the Alvars. Thirumangai Alvar could not reach Muktinath, but had sung 10 pashurams from the nearest place, in praise of Lord Sri Murthy. Periyalvar had sung in praise of Sri Murthi as "Salagramamudaiya Nambi". The pontiff of Srivilliputtur (the most venerated Srivaishnava pilgrim centre in Tamil Nadu in India), Sri Manavala Mamunigal Mutt H.H 23rd peetam Sri Sri Sri Satakopa Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamiji installed the idols of Andal (Sri Gotha Devi), Ramanuja, and Manavala Mamunigal in this sacred place of predominantly Sri Vaishnava origin during the yagna performed between 3-6 August 2009. This is considered by the devotees to be one of the milestones in the History of Muktinath. A large crowd of Sri Vaishnava devotees visit this most sacred Sri Vaishnavaitic shrine, where the Lord resides in the form of Sri Paramapatha Nathan with His divine consorts of Sri, Bhoomi, Neela and Gotha Devis. This place is so important that even Buddhism worships this Lord Sriman Narayana of Muktinath for attaining Salvation Mukti.

Travel access

Access is difficult because of harsh weather conditions. One can fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara and then from Pokhara to Jomsom Airport. From there, one can either trek all the way or take a jeep to Muktinath. Some tourists are also known to charter a helicopter all the way to Muktinath which takes around 45 minutes to reach. The helicopter can be used only when the weather permits.

Arriving by helicopter for a longer period of stay is not recommended because of the risk of acute mountain sickness. Accommodation is available in Ranipauwa, Jharkot, Chhongur, Kagbeni or Jomsom.

See also


  2. "General Information about Muktinath".
  3. Mittal, Sushil (2004). The Hindu World. New York: Routledge. p. 499. ISBN 0-203-67414-6.
  4. Zurick, David (2006). Illustrated Atlas of the Himalayas. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 153.
  5. "Muktinath Yatra Nepal Tourism" (PDF).
  6. (Translator), F. Max Muller (June 1, 2004). The Upanishads, Vol I. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1419186418.
  7. (Translator), F. Max Muller (July 26, 2004). The Upanishads Part II: The Sacred Books of the East Part Fifteen. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1417930160.
  8. "Kottiyoor Devaswam Temple Administration Portal". Kottiyoor Devaswam. Retrieved 20 July 2013. External link in |work= (help)
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