A trip to Muktinath is one of the most pious pilgrimages of all as well as a great Himalayan adventure. There are several ways to visit the 3,800 m Mukti Kshetra which literally means place of salvation. While many pilgrims choose the less adventurous helicopter flight from Pokhara to Muktinath, the road traversing the deep Himalayan gorge appeals to motorists from around the world.
The Helicopter tour of Muktinath
Muktinath is in the trans-Himalayan region of Annapurna massif which consists of some of the world’s highest mountains. The deep gorge and eroding valley makes driving the most challenging and unpredictable with weather.
In such a helicopter flight is the most comfortable and time saving. 5 seat helicopters are available in Pokhara and Kathmandu for the Muktinath Yatra. A helicopter trip from Kathmandu takes about 4 hrs for the round trip while it only takes 2 hrs from Pokhara. Pilgrims will have one hour at the temple premises to pray and take a bath in the 108 sacred fountains and the two kundas.
Muktinath Heli tour from Pokhara
Muktinath Helicopter tour from Pokhara is a scenic Himalayan flight early in the morning. As the helicopter lifts, the aerial view of lush Pokhara valley with Phewa Lake and Himalayan range appears brilliant. The flight then glides along the gigantic peaks of Annapurna and then traverses it through the Kali Gandaki valley wedged between two 8000 m peaks of Dhaulagiri I (8,167 m) and Annapurna I (2091 m). Crossing the Himalayan range through the world’s second deepest gorge, we fly over the trans-Himalayan region of Mustang to the Mukti Kshetra. Muktinath is a complex of temples spread on the mountainside at the altitude of 3,800 m. temples and nunnery spread astride the flight of stone staircase leading to the pagoda style temple of lord Vishnu at the top. The helicopter waits for about one hour allowing pilgrims to take the holy ablution in the 108 sacred taps and the two kunda in front of the temple.
Muktinath Heli tour from Kathmandu
It is also popular among the people limited in time to do the Muktinath pilgrimage by helicopter from Kathmandu. It is just a longer aerial journey but the experience is the same. Flying in the Nepalese sky is always scenic with the backdrop of the Himalayas. The Himalayan peaks are considered as either an embodiment or a abode of god and goddesses. In addition to Annapurna and Dhauligiri seen from Pokhara, a flight from Kathmandu unveils views of Langtang, Ganesh Himal and Manaslu ranges as well. The total journey takes about 4 hrs.
Muktinath by fixed wing flight
There are also scheduled fixed wing flights to Jomsom from Pokhara. Muktinath trip by fixed winged flight is one night and 2 days with overnight in Jomsom. Muktinath is about 24 km from Jomsom. The drive on the newly tarred road only takes about one hour. It is possible to fly to Jomsom and then visit the Muktinath and back to Jomsom on the same day. However pilgrims have to stay overnight at Jomsom as there will be no flight in the afternoon.
The 108 taps blessed by Siddhas are the product of 12 Zodiacs and 9 Planets.
Road trip of Muktinath
With diverse landscape, gushing waterfalls, cascading turquoise rivers, charming villages and views mesmerizing Himalayan peaks; Nepal is paradise for motorists. Either rent a motorbike, 4wd or drive your own vehicle, adventure and amusement awaits at each turning of your journey. Driving tours often include the tropical jungle of Chitwan national park and Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha before heading towards Muktinath in the north of Pokhara.
The road trip to Muktinath is one of the best driving tours in the Himalayas. Within a day one can cross to the trans-Himalayan region from the lush foothills of the Himalayas. There are also many culturally rich and scenic side hikes as well as pilgrimages along the way. The Galeshwar Mahadev temple, natural hot spring, the pitra moksha stala of Kagbeni and driving along the Saligram River of Kali Gandaki make the whole journey divine. Those looking for cultural and natural immersion experiences there are several side trips to Sekong lake, Titi lake, Dhumba lake and visit typical villages and apple orchards of Marpha, Tukuche and Libra. The height of Muktinath offers a widespread view of arid trans-Himalayan regions like Tibet cut by the Kali Gandaki River with panoramic views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges.
Road trip to Muktinath
Drive to Muktinath is the most scenic journey through the world's second deepest gorge wedged between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.
Significance of Muktinath
Muktinath temple in Mukti Kshetra has been one of the most important pilgrimages in the Himalayas since the time immemorial. The holy ground is believed to be the place where Lord Vishnu turned himself into Saligram out of the curse of Vrinda.The entire area of Kali Gandaki valley and Damodar kunda is famous as source of Saligram.
For Buddhists, this is the place of Dankinies (sky dweller goddesses), where Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated on his way to Tibet. The place is also one of the 24 sacred places for Tantrics.
While Hindus worship the idol in the main shrine as Lord Vishnu, Buddhist worship it as Avalokiteśvara. A Buddhist nun is a main priest at the temple.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praying at Muktinath temple.
Best time to Visit Muktinath
Muktinath could be visited throughout the year. The rain shadow of the Himalayas make it one of the dry place to visit during the summer monsoon months as well. Strong wind and temperature drop is expected throughout the year. with clear sky and moderate temperature, Autumn and Spring months are the best time to visit Muktinath. Many visit Muktianth during winter to experience the snow.
Muktinath tour in winter is best for experiencing snow.