15th.Oct.18 Muktinath – Jomsom
The temple and religious shrines of Muktinath (3800m) are the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Buddhists in the Himalaya. The shrines, in a grove of trees, include a Buddhist gompa, a Vishnu temple and the Jwalamai (Goddess of Fire) Temple. This shelters a spring and natural gas jets that provide Muktinath’s famous eternal flame. It’s the combination of earth, water and fire in such proximity that accounts for Muktinath’s great religious significance.
In the morning we visited the sacred sights which at first it were rather crowded with local pilgrims. The main temple in the form of a black and white pagoda is remarkably small and unassuming but located in front of it were two holy water pools which attracted many pilgrims. Taking the plunge here is believed to rinse away your sins. Behind the temple 108 water spouts shaped like a bull’s head continuously feed holy water from the Gandaki river. Taking a shower under all these 108 Mukti Dhara is believed to bring salvation.
All around various temples, statues and stupas are distributed across the hillside and they are quite impressive set between the high mountains. The Jwala Mai Temple containing a continuously burning holy flame from a rock located inside the Dhola Mebar Gompa is just a few minutes walking distance from the main temple. We walked further across the hillside, where I even discovered some autumn gentians and some blue/white trumpet ones, to a huge colourful apparently new statue of Guru Rimpoche also known as Padmasambhava the founder of Tibetan Buddhism.
In the village afterwards we had some time which was mainly spent buying souvenirs. Then we left our hotel and drove down to Jomsom. After lunch in the lodge, where we had been before, we made an extra trip at the suggestion of the guide further down the Kali Gandaki to the next village Marpha. Here there were few tourists compared with the more well known villages nearby. This did not stop them having plenty of souvenir and other shops and of course there was also a monastery.
In the evening we celebrated a farewell dinner with our 2 Sherpas and the driver. Another guide from the South Tirol (same village as Reinhold Messner) turned up and added to the festivities. The Sherpas received their tips and some extra clothing people had brought. I had none but gave them some extra cash for looking after me when I was the last on the trek.