Nepal, Trekking around Annapurna - the Manang side
Annapurna Circuit: on this page you will find information and pictures of
Muktinath and Ranipauwa. and information how you can continue your trek after crossing the Thorong la
you can enlarge most small pictures by clicking in on of the corners.
If you want to see a picture in full sizze, click additionally on F11
NATT No.40 Muktinath & Ranipauwa
Muktinath has been a pilgrim site for about 3000 years. There are two main reasons.
Firstly, from a small earth fissure water and natural gas pours out, the latter burning in a little flame. On this site all the four elements - earth, water, air and fire - are united
in a natural way. You can listen to the gurgling water and see the tiny little flame
still in the Dhola Mebar temple***. Secondly, many ammonites (called saligrams or
salagrams by the locals) are found in the Mustang region. They are already described in the Hindu Vedic texts and are not seen as stones, but rather as a true
and direct manifestation of the Hindu god Vishnu himself. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaligram#Use
Desending from Thorong la you will first pass the Temple area of Muktinath which is now completely walled with a white wall.
Your lodge will be another 15-30 minutes further in the lodge settlement of Ranipauwa, depending on the section of Ranipauwa in which it is situated.
The temple area of Muktinath ***
The whole area is now surrounded by a big white wall. Coming from Ranipauwa you will pass the red arch and climb to the main gate of the temple area. Like many
temples in Nepal, Buddhists and Hindus share the area and even many temples.
Just after the gate you pass by a huge prayer wheel (1). Ascend the path passing by
at some little temples. In a small stand of trees you will reach the famous Vishnu Lokhesvara temple, donated by Queen Subarna Prabha in the 18th century. She
also donated the big pilgrims’ house which gave the name Ranipauwa (Queen’s Pilgrim’s house) to the village.
The main purpose of the many Indian pilgrims, many coming from as far as south
India, is to bathe in the two pools near the temple. They will also walk past the 108 holy fountains behind the temple(?) and often take some holy water back home in
plastic bottles. The temple area inside the wall is restricted to Hindus and you are not allowed to take photos inside the shrine.
The Indian pilgrims are an experience in itself and worth seeing. They fly to Jomsom
, often stay there first night, and then drive the next morning by jeep to the parking lot on the outskirts of Ranipauwa. After walking to the Muktinath shrines, many of them
will be so tired that they choose to drive back on a motorcycle to the parking place. As a result there is a lot of motorcycle traffic in the morning. Many of the young guys
of Ranipauwa make a fortune driving the Indian ladies back.
(1) the entrance gate and the big prayer wheel
Signs before the Shiva temple
Bodenmalereien beim Shiva Tempel, die heilige Silbe OM und die Symbol der Swastika
The Vishnu Lokheswara Pagoda
The PAgoda is dedicated to vishnu but also a holy site for the buddhists
a wall is above the temple with 108 water fountains. 108 is a holy number for the buddhists.
Teh fountains get theri water from a holy spring and people take the wather obver
their body and head even when it is freezing. Many Indian Pilgrims will collect some of the water in plastic bottles to bring it back home
On the north eastern end of the area is the Marme Lhakang Gompa (4) gehen. Diese heißt auf der Muktinath.org Seite
Narsingh Gompa .inside is a big Statue of Phadmasambava /Guru Rinpoche
Behind this little Gompa is a little door in the wall and behind you see a threes
covered with the hair of pilgrims who cut it at the end of their pilgrimage
Go back to the Vishnu temple and continue on a path with some chörten to the
Dolamebar Gompa ( 6) which is cared of by buddhist nuns..
This is the famous temple with the natural flame:
The empole has various names
Dolamebar Gompa from do mebar = burning stone, Salamebar Gompa from sale mebar = burning soil , oder Mebhar
Lhakang Gompa. Hindus call it Jwala Mai Temple after their goddes jwala Mai, a natural flame
Old pictures of Dola Mebar Gompa
Nowadays the temple has been renovated and the statues are behind glas
Pilgrims from Dolpo or Mustang
See also the muktinath website www.muktinath.org
how long will take a visit to Muktinath temple area?
If oyu are in ahurry you can visit the vishnu temple and the Dohle Mebar temple
within half an hour and have seen the two most important places. I normally stay for one and a half hour there. In any case you should never miss a visit!
Ranipauwa seen from the Muktinath temple.
all the lodges are further down in Ranipauwa (Photo 1999)
Vishnu temple the big pilgrim house which gave the name Ranipauwa (= Queen’s Pilgrim’s house) to
the village. Actually it is a fast growing lodge settlement with many new big lodges under construction.
As already mentioned, the police check post is inside the old pilgrim house and the ACAP office is just
before it. There are many lodges in Ranipauwa. In the last 25 years I have stayed in 5 different lodges
and have all to be quite acceptable. So it does not make sense to recommend a particular one.
Ranipauwa is stretched out over a kilometre and during the day many local women will on the edge of
the main street weaving colourful scarfs with their traditional looms for the tourists. Besides some
souvenir stalls there is not very much to see in Ranipauwa apart from the great views of Dhaulagiri.
A Photo from 1999. on the right side you see the Pilgrims shelter built by the queen (rani) therefor it is
called Rani Pauwa and gave the settlement its name (1999 Photo)
The Center Court of the pilgrims house
In many jof the lodges you will find “Yak” steaks on the menu card. ‘Well there are not enought Yaks for
all the tourist and so you will normaly get either buffalo or cow meat ;-) .In Nepal it is forbidden to slaughter cows but the buddhist people dont mind so much.
Anyway, Muktinath Ranipuwa is a good place to recover from the hard crossing over Thorong la
Main souvenirs from Muktinath area are handwoven scarfs and ammonites.
There is now a new big Gompa.
Visit of a high Lama
At the end of the village is the Jeep station. The Jeeps are driving to jomsom and are alway completely
packed. Make sur oyu get a front seat if you have long western legs!
in September in November
how to continue?
1. Stay one day in Muktinath.
This is absolutely not a bad idea. You can relax, have all the time for a
visit of the Muktinath Temple area, wash your clothes and make a wonderfull daytrip to Jharkot passing
by Purang (NATT 43) or by Chongur and Jhong.. (NATT 44) The later trip is most recommendable if
you will not continue to Kagbeni showing you three very interesting and beautiful villages.
2. Taking the jeep to Jomsom. When in 2008 the road had reached Muktinath many trekkers wrote
in the internet that it is not worth anymore to continue trekking after Muktinath. Knowing that there were
still beautiful treks I started to think about the NATT project. And still trekking marvel await you on the
Kali Gandaki side so if your plane is not leaving from Kathmandu the next five days you should not
even consider to take the jeep down to Jomsom. You would miss a lot and get a rather bumpy and uncomfortable journey in a very full jeep.
3. Going to Lubra (Lupra) and then to Jomsom. Lubra is a very interesting little village and has the
only Bon Gompa in this area. You can directly take a trail after the jeep station in Ranipauwa (NATT 41)
or first visit Jharkot and then continue from there (NATT 47). jharkot is definitively worth a visit. You can
reach Jomsom in a day going by Lupra, but you will have hard wind in your face in the afternoon.
4. Walking down the road to Kagbeni or Jomsom. This would be the fastes Walking possibility. be
prepared to a rather dusty journey. You can reach Jomsom in half a day.
5. My personal recomendation: Walk to Kagbeni by the northern trail goning by Chongur,
Jhong and Putak. This will be one of the highlights of the whole Circuit! You will pass
beautiful village with tibentan bhuddist culture, have excellent mountain views and see the thorong la in all its splendour (See NATT 50).
Overview Annapurna region
Crossing Thorong la
Purang and Jharkot
NATT 50/1 Chongur, (trail to Kagbeni)
Link to the old pages
To the page
NATT- guidebook and maps