Muktinath Tourist Attractions
A renowned pilgrim site, Muktinath is located in the heart of the Himalayas in the northern region of Mustang. Sacred to Hindus and Buddhists alike its shrines are perched on a mountain ridge 3700 m (12,143 ft) and 3980 m (13,062 ft) above sea level.In Hindu tradition Muktinath is known as Muktichhetra ("Place of Salvation"). Here Brahma lit fire upon water and reconciled the contradictory elements thereby. An eternal flame still burns, reputedly sustained by nothing more than water, stone and earth. Muktinath became hallowed ground for Buddhists when Guru Rinpoche, passing through on his journey to Tibet, left a footprint in the rock. The 84 siddhas dropped their wooden staffs, which grew into a poplar grove, a miracle in an otherwise treeless land.Muktinath has been a place of pilgrimage for more than 2000 years. It appears in the Mahabharata epic as Shaligrama ("Place of the Schaligrams"), a reference to the black fossils found in the Kali Gandaki Valley.
The Gompa Sarwa or "New Monastery" was built only 40 years ago, though such is its condition it appears to be old. It comprises a courtyard, kitchen, some rooms and a temple, the latter on the model of Tibet's Tradum shrine. A wooden partition, interestingly patterned, separates the temple from the monastery's hall. On the altar is a terracotta figure of Buddha Shakyamuni with Guru Rinpoche to his right and Avalokiteshvara to his left. Two chorten represent the Kyirong Jowo, a devotional image from Tibet.
Jwala Mai Mandir (Salamebar Dolamebar Gompa)
The Nepalese call this temple Jwala Mai, the Tibetans Salamebar Dolamebar Gompa. Its flat terraced roof and walls of undressed stone make a striking contrast with the Nepalese pagoda. The temple's famous eternal flame burns in three niches below the altar. Appearing sustained by nothing more than stone (right), water (center) and earth (left), it is actually fed by natural gas. Above are images representing Guru Rinpoche, Avalokiteshvara and Vajradhara.
The water of a sacred spring, issuing from 108 spouts in the shape of bulls' heads, flows on through the poplar grove sending prayer wheels spinning as it goes. Pilgrims drink or bathe in the clear icy water seeking spiritual liberation and purification from sin.
Like the Jwala Mai Mandir, the Marme Lhakhang or "Temple of the Lamps" epitomizes the architecture of northern Nepal, rooted firmly in Tibetan culture. Located a little to the north-east beyond the poplar grove, the building is in a woeful state.
Pompo Yartöng Festival
The Pompo Yartöng Festival is celebrated on the day of the full moon in the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar, i.e. August/September. Much singing, dancing accompanies the daredevil horse-racing.
The Vishnu Temple, a pagoda with triple roofs diminishing in size in the Newari style, stands in a courtyard by the sacred spring. Hindus worship the image as Vishnu, Buddhists as Avalokiteshvara.