Muktinath is considered as one of the most immense sacred places that is located at the Thorong La mountain pass’s base experiencing an altitude of 3,710 meters. A melting point for both Hindus and the Buddhists, this place carries a really high relevance especially among those who ardently follow these religions. The divine site is nicknamed as the ‘Mukti Kshetra’ by the Hindus that means ‘the place of salvation’ and thus, each and every devotee visits this place with the sole intention of attaining the utmost salvation in a serene manner. Comprised of the very beautiful tradition of God Vishnu and the Vaishnava pictured through their splendid statues, Muktinath is a majorly renowned pilgrimage site and that too from the bygone era. It unequivocally has got its name engraved amongst the 108 Divya Desam as well as the eight most sacred places
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Located in the Muktinath Valley at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass in Mustang, is Muktinath. For Hindus, it is Mukti Kshetra, which means place of salvation or moksh. There are 108 Divya Desam (premium temples) that are considered holy by Sri Vaishnava sect and this temple is one of them and also one of the 108 Siddhpeeth and is named Mahadevi. Muktinath is one of the most ancient Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is also considered to be one of the eight sacred places called Svayam Vyakta Ksetras (the other seven being Srirangam, Srimushnam, Tirupati, Naimisharanya, Totadri, Pushkar and Badrinath). It is also one among the 51 Shakti Peetha goddess sites. Shakti Peethas are holy abodes of Shakti formed by the falling body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi when it was being carried by Lord Shiva. Every Shakti Peetha has two shrines – Shakti shrine and a Bhairav shrine. In Muktinath Temple, the Shakti is “Gandaki Chandi” and the Bhairav is “Chakrapani”.
Muktinath is also considered sacred by the Buddhists and they call it Chumming Gyatsa which in Tibetan means ‘Hundred Waters’. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Guru Rimpoche also known as Padmasambhava, meditated here on his way to Tibet.
It is a revered temple for the Buddhist even though it has a Vaishnav origin. For Tibetan Buddhists, Muktinath is a place of dakinis goddesses known as Sky Dancers and also known to be one of the 24 Tantric places.
According to the Hindu Vaishnavas, the central shrine of the temple is one of the eight sacred shrines known as Svayam Vyakta Ksetras. It is a very small temple where the idol of the god is of gold and is human sized. Bronze images of Bhoodevi, goddesses Saraswati and Janaki, Garuda, Lava-Kusa and the Sapta Rishis are also present in this temple. The temple has an old Budhist monk and worship is done by Buddhist nuns. The outer courtyard or prakaram has 108 bull faces which pours water. These waters of the 108 pipes symbolizes the sacred Pushkarini waters from all the 108 Sri Vaishnava Divya Desams.
The journey to Muktinath passes through many archeological sites and temples. Tourists also visit Mebar Lha Gomba, a small monastery near the entrance of the temple. It is also known as Jwala Mai Temple. Muktinath Kunda in the front of the temple is used for holy dipping. Gumba Samba is a monastery of Tibetan origin.
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