A Trip to Jomsom & Muktinath

Jomsom is a small town located in the discreet region of Mustang district. The Muktinath temple in the outskirts of Jomsom is major attraction of the region. A tourist destination, Jomsom is also an important economic and geographic hub connecting Nepal with Tibet.


Jomsom

Jomsom is the district headquarter of Mustang region. It connect Upper Mustang with other important cities in the South. Also known as Dzong-Sampa or New Fort,  it is located at the altitude of 2,700 meters; and covers Kali Gandaki river on both sides.

Kali Gandaki Gorge
Kali Gandaki Gorge

The Dhaulagiri and Nilrigi peaks are clearly visible from the town, along with the northern side of Annapurna mountain range.

It is 67 km away from the tourist city of Pokhara. You can choose to take a short flight, bus or jeep to Jomsom from Pokhara. The road can be treacherous throughout the year due to its poor condition. It goes along the side of Kali Gandaki until Jomsom, and passes through important towns of Beni, Parbat, Lete and Marpha.

The region is also popular for its unique apples and locally produced wine. Marpha exports most of its apples and wines to nearby towns.

It also forms a section of the greater Annapurna circuit trek and Upper Mustang trek. One must reach Jomsom to access the discreet Upper Mustang region, however, you aren’t required to obtain ‘restricted area’ permit to reach until Jomsom.

Muktinath

Muktinath is a temple located at the Muktinath town in the outskirts of Jomsom. Located at 3,710 meters on the foot of Thorong La pass, it is mostly visited by both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims.

In Hinduism, the temple is considered to be 106th among the available 108 Divya Desam (premium temples) considered sacred by the Sri Vaishnava sect. The Hindu pilgrims must visit the temple one their lifetime and offer prayer along with holy bath under the 108 stone taps available inside the temple premise.

In Buddhism, Muktinath is considered an important place of dakinis, goddesses known as Sky Dancers, and one of the 24 Tantric places. They understand the statue to be a manifestation of Avalokiteśvara, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.

It is believed that, Guru Ringpoche (the founder of Tibetan Buddhism) mediated at Muktinath before heading towards Tibet.

The temple is located 22 km away from the Jomsom town. One must take a locally available jeep, mule or bus to reach Muktinath. You can also choose to trek. The area is flourished with newly opened hotels, restaurants, shops and other services.

Due to its sheer altitude and geographical proximity, the temple remains inaccessible throughout Monsoon and Winter.


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The Highest Mountain Pass in the World

Thorong La is a mountain pass located at Damodar Himal in the mid-western region of Nepal. At 5,416 meters, it is known as the highest mountain pass in the world. The access to the pass is only possible on foot, unlike Zatwar La Pass of Ladakh which is accessible through road.


Overview

Thorong La or Thorung La is situated at the elevation of 5,416 meters in the Damodar Himal and inside the Circuit trail. The pass connects two different villages, Manang and Mustang.

It is the highest point you may reach during the Annapurna Circuit trek. It is advised to start the treacherous hike early morning to avoid any worsening weather at the pass. It’s easier to cross the pass from east to west because its safer and you can stay overnight at Thorung Phedi before approaching the highest point.

The western side of the pass, Muktinath, is drier compared to the eastern side, mainly because the massive Annapurna mountain ranges blocks the monsoon clouds from reaching the area.

Due to its sheer elevation, trekkers are recommended to acclimatize properly before crossing the pass. The safest time cross the pass are March-April and September-November. The weather at the pass is likely to worsen during other seasons, and may bring avalanches, snowfall and storm. The altercation in weather can prove to be fatal to your life.

The Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna Circuit spanning over 200 meters encompasses into one of the longest treks in Nepal. It may take well over 2 weeks to complete the trek and covers a great sparse of geography. You will get to cross 4 different districts during the trek, namely; Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi.

You will witness people of varying tribes and ethnicity. The villages, settlements and lifestyles found along the trail may differ in every 30 km.

Along with the Annapurna Base Camp, the circuit receives over 130,000 trekkers annually.

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The Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna circuit is a 200 km long trekking trail located at the mid-western region of Nepal. A lengthy trek, it is mostly opted by the tourists seeking to enjoy their time traversing through the remotes of Nepal.


Overview

The Annapurna Circuit encompasses into one of the longest treks in Nepal. It may take well over 2 weeks to complete the trek and covers a great sparse of geography. You will get to cross 4 different districts during the trek, namely; Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi.

Lamjung and Myagdi at the lower elevations are both predominantly Hindu regions with lush green subtropical valleys. Manang and Mustang at the higher elevations are predominantly Tibetan Buddhist region.

Manaslu, Langtang, Annapurna I, II, III and IV, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhare and Dhaulagiri are few of the major peaks you will get to see. The trek goes anti-clockwise, starting from Besi Sahar and ending at Ghorepani, mainly because, you will gain the daily altitude much slower and will get cross the Thorong La Pass with much ease and through the safer route.

Annapurna Massif Panorama

You will get to witness people of varying tribes and ethnicity. The villages, settlements and lifestyles found along the trail may differ in every 30 km. Choose anytime between March-June and September-December  for trekking the circuit, mainly for the good weather and ease of access.

Along with the Annapurna Base Camp, the circuit receives over 130,000 trekkers annually.

Thorong La Pass

Thorong La
Thorong La

Thorong La or Thorung La is a mountain pass located at the elevation of 5,416 meters in the Damodar Himal and inside the Circuit trail. The pass connects two different villages, Manang and Muktinath.

It is the highest point you may reach during the Circuit trek. It is advised to start the treacherous hike early morning to avoid any worsening weather at the pass.

Muktinath

Muktinath is a sacred place revered by many Hindus and Buddhists. Located in Muktinath Valley of Mustang, the ancient temple of Muktinath is dedicated to the God Vishnu (Hindu-Trinity). It is considered to be the 105th among the available Divya Desams (108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the works of the Tamil Azhvars). Hindus call the sacred place ‘Mukti Kshetra,’ which literally means the “place of liberation or moksha.”

The courtyard of temple has 108 Bull-faced spouts and pouring out cold Himalaya water. Pilgrims, making a visit to the temple, must also consider taking a shower under every spout for the ‘soul cleansing’.

Ghorepani

Ghorepani at the Myagdi district lies within the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP), and is one of the most popular local places to trek. It serves as an important stop for the incoming tourists and traders. Most trekkers stay at Ghorepani and trek up to the Poon Hill to enjoy the mesmerizing sunrise and sunset.

It also links to the important Ghandruk village, which is a part of the greater Annapurna base camp trail.


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