Muktinath is a Vishnu temple, sacred to both Hindus and Budhists. It is located in Muktinath Valley at the foot of the Tharong la mountain pass in Mustang, Nepal
It is one of the world’s highest temples (altitude 3,800 m). Within Hinduism, it is one of the 108 Divya Desam, and is the only Divya Desam located outside India. It known as Mukti Kshetra, which literally means the ‘liberation arena’ moksha and is one of the Char Dham in Nepal.
This temple is considered to be 106th of the 108 Divya Deasm considered sacred by the SRI VAISHNAVA sect. Its ancient name in Sri Vaishnava literature is Tiru Shaligramam. The Gandaki river, which flows nearby, is considered to be the only source of the shaligrama shila, the non-anthropomorphic representation of Vishnu.
Buddhists call it Chumig Gyatsa, which in Tibetan means “Hundred Waters”. For Tibetan Buddhists, Muktinath is an 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 Avalokiteśvara, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.The site is close to the village of Ranipauwa, which is sometimes mistakenly called Muktinath.
Muktinath is sacred to the Sri Vaishnava tradition. The deities of Vishnu and his consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi, are regarded by adherents to offer jivanmukti to devotees, offering the epithet Muktinath to Vishnu. It is praised by Thirumangai Alvar in the compilation of the Nalayira Divya Prabandham. The river Gandaki, flowing adjacent to the temple has a kind of stone called shaligrama. The different patterns of the stone are worshiped as different forms of Vishnu. The colour white is considered Vasudeva, black as Vishnu, green as Narayana, blue as Krishna, golden yellow & reddish yellow as Narasimha and Vamana in yellow. The stones are found in various shapes with even shapes of the Panchajanya and the Sudarshana Chakra, the attributes of Vishnu.The temple is revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the 7th–9th century Vaishnava canon, by Kulasekhara Alvar in one hymn. The temple is classified as a Divya Desam, one of the 108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the book. Many devotees have contributed to it, most prominently the Alvars. Thirumangai Alvar could not reach Muktinath, but sang 10 pasurams from the nearest place, in praise of the deity. Periyalvar sang in praise of Vishnu as “Salagramamudaiya Nambi”.
The pontiff of Srivilliputtur installed the idols of Andal (Gotadevi), Ramanuja, and Manavala Mamunigal there during the yagna performed between 3 and 6 August 2009. This is considered by devotees of the tradition to be a milestone in the history of Muktinath. A large crowd of devotees visit this shrine, where the deity resides in the form of Sri Paramapada Nathan with his divine consorts of Sridevi, Bhudevi, Niladevi, and Gotadevi.
Tourism of Nepal
Muktinath, being one of the world’s most famous religious and tourism locations, receives thousands of visitors every year. According to the data provided by the Jomsom-based information centre of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), 9,105 foreigners visited Muktinath in April 2018 alone, among which Indian tourists were counted at 4,537. ACAP’s data show that the number of Indian tourists visiting Muktinath temple has been increasing every year. International tourists visit Muktinath mainly en route to the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The route to Muktinath is also popular among the biking community throughout the year.