IN AND AROUND JOMSOM
Jomsom is a small town in the upper Kaligandaki valley in Nepal, at an altitude of 2770 m.Jomsom is the capital of the Mustang district and lies on the Annapurna Circuit .An excursion around Jomsom, on the bank of Kali Gandaki River, dominated by the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks gives a truly rewarding experience. It is the only area offering green landscapes, high mountains, turquoise lake, holy temples, monasteries and roaring rivers. From here one can enjoy the views of the Nilgiri peaks as well as Dhaulagiri, the sixth highest mountain in the world. The views are enchanting as the Nilgiri (7,061 m) and Dhaulagiri (8,167m) ranges reflect the golden rays of the rising and setting sun. The entire panorama is filled with a golden, glittering light, which forms a dramatic contrast.Being the district headquarters, it is primarily an administrative and commercial center with government officials and merchants rubbing shoulders with the local inhabitants of the region, known as Thakalis. A training unit of Alpine troops of the Nepalese army is also stationed there.Many visitors find their most lasting impression of Nepal from visits to places like Jomsom and its exhilarating spiritual environment. Jomsom area is not only the most popular trekking destination in Nepal but also the gateway to Upper Mustang – “Kingdom” within the Hindu Kingdom of Nepal. Jomsom is also the gateway to The Muktinath shrine that holds great religious significance to both Buddhists and Hindus. Muktinath is the most popular site in Jomsom. Visiting this sacred site, one will be able to get a complete picture of Buddhist and Hindu religious, culture, tradition and custom of local people.
Mustang: Mustang region is also known as the Forbidden Kingdom. Mustang has a long, rich and complex history that makes it one of the most interesting parts of Nepal. It lies in western Nepal and, is officially the name of the district. It is located along the banks of the Kali Gandaki River. It is divided into two parts namely, Lower Mustang and Upper Mustang.
Lower Mustang: Jomsom, the dazzling place, is in the lower Mustang and the major part is the upper Mustang River. Lower Mustang covers the part of lower valley along the Kali Gandaki River. Jomsom is the gateway to Upper Mustang and is also the gateway to The Muktinath shrine. Traveling to Jomsom will take you down to the memory lane of ancient kingdom of Mustang.
Upper Mustang: It is an ancient Himalayan Kingdom behind the mountains. Upper Mustang consists of two distinct regions the southern region with five villages inhabited by people related to the Manangis and the northern region (the ancient kingdom of Lo) where the language culture and traditions are almost purely .The house and temple are constructed of stone and mostly mud bricks that are sun baked in all over the region.
The region is geographically and culturally part of Tibet and has a long rich and complex history, thus offering the natural, beautiful desert landscape, monasteries and crumbling castles, the villages with multi -storied houses, Lho-Monthang, the walled capital of this kingdom and life styles unaffected by the outside modern world.
Muktinath: Muktinath, a sacred place both for Hindu as well as Buddhist, is located at an altitude of 3,710 meters at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass (part of the Himalayas), Mustang district. The Hindus call the place Mukti Kshetra, which literally means the “place of salvation”, while Buddhists call it Valley Chumming Gyatsa (in Tibetan language it means the place of 108 waterspouts).In Muktinath there is a rock fissure, from which water and natural gas is pouring. The gas burns in a very tiny flame, but there is natural combination of all four elements: earth, water, air and fire at one spot. Because of this, pilgrims are coming over 3000years to this holy place. .
The Muktinath temple is situated on a high mountain range. It is one of the most ancient Hindu Temple of God Vishnu.The 108 spouts, fashioned in the shape of cows’ heads, pour forth water that is considered to be holy. This water is channeled from a stream running above the temple. The temple is built in Tibetan style and contains huge brass idols of Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and Kali.
During the festival of Janai Purnima, Hindu devotees gather here to pay homage to lord Muktinath. The visitors get lodging facilities at Dharmasala and Maharani Pouwa. There are two temples of note, a dilapidated temple with the idols of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati, and a Narsingh temple where rituals are performed according to both Hindu and Buddhist customs There is also a Buddhist gompa (monastery), and a pagoda-type temple dedicated to Jwala Mai (goddess of fire) is situated about hundred meters south of Muktinath.
The trek guide was very experienced and knowledgeable. The hotels we stayed in were strategically located. The hotel’s staff were all friendly and helpful. Generally we are satisfied. Explore Himalaya’s staff were all responsible and friendly. Good!