Muktinath is a sacred place both for 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), Mustang district, Nepal. The site is close to the village of Ranipauwa, which sometimes mistakenly is called Muktinath as well.
The Hindus call the sacred place Mukti Kshetra, which literally means the "place of salvation". Mainly the temple is with a predominant Sri Vaishnava origin and worshipped by Buddhists.
This temple is considered to be the 105th among the available 108 Divya Desam. The ancient name of this place, before Buddhist origin is known as Thiru Saligramam. This houses the Saligrama sila considered to be the naturally available form of Sriman Narayana. It is also one of the 51 Sakthi peetams.
The Buddhists call it Chumig Gyatsa, which in Tibetan means 'Hundred Waters'. 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. 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 is available in Vishnu Purana with the Gantaki Mahathmya.
Even more sacred is the water that issues from rock inside the ancient Tibetan style "Jwala Mai Temple" sound of flowing river is situated south and a short distance below the of Muktinath Temple. Inside this Gompa, behind a tattered curtain, are small natural gas jest that produce Continuously burning flame, the Jwala Mai temple has a spring and there are three eternal flames "Holy flame from soil", "Holy flame from rock" and "Holy flame from water" fed by natural gas. Currently two flames are continuously burning.
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 of Hindus, Buddhists, and Vaishnavas. It has 108 water springs and this number carries great significance in Eastern philosophy. In Hindu astrology, there are 12 zodiac or Rashi and 9 planets or Graha, giving a total of 108 combination. Also there are 27 Lunar mansions or Nakshatras which are divided in 4 quarters or Padas each giving a combination of 108 Padas in total. Access is difficult because of tough 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 forty five minutes to reach. The helicopter can be hired 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 Muktinath, Kagbeni or Jomsom.