On 4th of May, 2015, at around 7 am, two of us rolled out our bike from Kathmandu and headed toward Muktinath.
Muktinath is a place sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. And being located at the altitude of 3,710 meters, at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass in Mustang, it does seem a fitting house for the God.
What we sought was nothing more than the thrill of a long distance ride, without the hassles of a typical bus journey.
We had no idea that a whole lot more was in store for us in the valley of Mustang.
Rainy season had just began in Kathmandu, and light showers kicked off our journey.
The ride went slow and smooth till Nagdhunga, beyond which the roads became an hour long series of turns and swivels. Only after Naubise the highway become a bit easier. But as the entire Prithivi Highway is carved along the side of humongous hills, do expect a semi-adventurous ride.
Two hours of journey into this road, with the great Trishuli River running alongside us, we arrived at Malekhu.
Malekhu is almost a town, characterized by two rows of small shops and restaurants on the either side of the highway.
Like Kulekhani, Malekhu too is famous for its fishes, and you simply don’t pass by this place without grabbing yourself a plateful. Moreover, if you decide to eat in one of these road-side restaurants, the great taste even comes at economical prices.
So how could we not stop for a quick snack?
After savoring the taste of the fishes, we resumed our journey and, 20 kilometers later, arrived at Kurintar, famous for being the gateway to the shrine of Goddess Manakamana (Goddess Who Fulfills Your Heart’s Desires). From here, you can even take an exhilarating Cable Car ride to the temple.
Running a little short on time, we greeted the Goddess from a distance, and continued straight up the highway.
Around 10 kilometers away from Kurintar, we arrived at Muglin, which is a town similar to Malekhu. It is here that Siddhartha Highway, which takes us to Pokhara (and eventually to Muktinath), connects with the Prithivi Highway.
On Prithivi Highway, the flow of the vehicle is lesser, so we got a chance to enjoy the stunning hills and smooth flowing rivers that ran along the highway. It made our ride more pleasant and freeing, allowing us to appreciate the nature more.
Along the way, we passed the well-known settlements of Dumre, Damauli, Lekhnath Nagarpalika, and finally arrived Pokhara.
Pokhara is a beautifully city, and if you are a travel-enthusiast, chances are high you already know a lot about this place. The more of Pokhara will have to wait for later posts.
For now, we had a long road to make, so we headed straight for road to Baglung (which eventually takes us to our destination).
Enjoying the beautiful towns, hamlets, and hills of Hemja, Lumle, we rode to Nayapul, (from there, if you hit off toward North, you can reach Ghandruk-Poonhil & famous Annapurna base camp), but our destination was eventually to Beni, the headquarter city of Myagdi, where we spent the night.
After the early morning breakfast, we made for Jomsom (the headquarters of Mustang District), which is just about 70 kilometers away from Beni.
We made the journey alongside the shore of River Kaligandaki, and 21 kilometers on, we arrive at the popular Tatopani Kund (which translates to “warm water pond”), where domestic as well as foreign tourists like to take a dip.
We too gave ourselves half an hour of fun-time in the warm waters, before resuming our journey.
Hot Water Pond(myagdi)
9-10 kilometers of journey later, we arrived at Rupse Jharna (Rupse Waterfall), considered one of the most beautiful falls in Nepal. People came from various places, far and near, to witness the fall… and we could clearly see why.
There is also a restaurant located near this fall, where we took the opportunity to fill our bellies, and snap a few more photographs. After that, we were back on the road enjoying and clicking more snapshots.
Ready for the bike ride
landscape seen from the road
on the way
From thereon, the higher we went, the more the geographical environment began to change. Tall trees gave away to smaller bushes, softer soil turned into dryer, harsher mud. Even the road started getting closer and closer to the bank of Kaligandaki. We could feel getting closer to Jomsom by the second.
change of landscape(local sheeps grazing in the field)
getting closer and closer
2 hours from Rupse, we arrived at yet another popular destination of Marfa Village. Marfa Village is famous for its apples and special apple wine delicacy.
After 25 to 30 minutes of journey from Marfa, we finally arrived at Jomsom.
Jomsom is considered one of the windiest places of Nepal. Naturally, we were greeted by a ferocious wind, when we arrived there at 4 pm.
Arriiving at Jomsom
Jomsom Bazaar was a delightful place. It offers you anything from nice hotels to various shopping commodities. There even is an airport! But as the wind is too powerful after 12 o’clock (afternoon), only morning flights fly in and out of Jomsom. Strolling around such splendid places of Jomsom, we called it a day.
Jomsom bazaar(gateway to Upper mustang & Muktinath)
Next day, we woke up early and headed for Muktinath Temple to offer our prayers. Muktinath, which is no more than 23 kilometers away from Jomsom, is one of the major pilgrimages of Hindus. To reach there, you can take SUVs, Motorcycles, or even a long walk along the shore of Kaligandaki.
With bare, gray hills all around it, the Jomsom-Muktinath Road also allows for viewing the beautiful Mount Annapurna, Nilgiri and other various mountains.
Jomsom has its geographical formation similar to that of Tibet, and has a strong presence of Buddhist communities in it.
riding through kaligandaki river
highway of himalayas
ride of the himalayas
crossing river along with sheeps
beneath the mountains
45 minutes to 1 hour through this road later, we found ourselves in the pristine land of Muktinath.
For Hindus, there are few shrines holier than Muktinath. They believe that a person must visit this holy place at least once in their lifetime. They also hold firm belief that doing so shall give them “freedom” (or “Mukti”) after their death. The folklores also say that bathing in the 108 taps (dhara) inside this temple will wash away all your sins.
After offering our prayers, we sat there in the shadows of the great temple, feeling the divine aura of the place, and maybe the pure devotion of other faithful visitors rubbing off on us.
visitor filling the holy water from 108 taps
Whether you want to witness the pristine landscape, or experience divine presence among the soaring heights… or maybe you are just a travelling enthusiast… Muktinath is a place you simply cannot afford to miss.
Things to Consider(Bike Riders)
- You are going for a long ride so being physically and mentally fit is mandatory.
- You can hire bikes in Kathmandu as well as in Pokhara. Make sure they are in good condition and well serviced.
- Check the climate of the destination at least of next seven days.
- Wear a light but windproof jackets and trousers as well as better riding gears(helmet, gloves).
- Carry some spare parts such as clutch and accelerator wires, tubes, spark plugs and have basic knowledge for changing tubes and wires.
- Finally carry a medical kit(medicine for fever, muscle and joint ache, headache,cold) and HARD CASH(at least NRS 20,000 per Head).
Translated By:Sarthak Parajulee