Muktinath – so let the wind cross your ash thoughts

16. March 2023

 

 

There was a surprise for breakfast: I wouldn’t be staying here alone after all. Half of a couple had diarrhoea and vomiting and didn’t want to take a bus for several hours. But apart from that, everyone had really left and it was strange at first to be alone again.

Later, new guests arrived who had crossed the pass and Muktinath also filled up. It seemed to me that there were already many more people (despite “our” Intrepid group) and it looked as if there would be more every day. In any case, the newcomers had little contact with each other. I thought my companion was much better. The weather became more and more modest – at first there were patches of blue sky, but at some point it was completely cloudy. And cold. And so it seemed to me that I had chosen the most appropriate best time slot. Started on the 1st sunny day, finished on the last. Lucky me!

I also thought the day’s planning with Ice Lake and then a rest day was perfect. Where you sleep the last two nights before the pass is very much up to your own preferences – for me it was good that way. In retrospect, I probably wouldn’t have really needed my horse man, but who would have guessed that it would be so nice with the others. It’s better not to rely on it. And the fact that I didn’t have to carry anything uphill was of course also very pleasant. But for the days before – I was glad that I had the choice and could go without. And you can change your mind every day, porter services are offered everywhere (also for riding horses – but I didn’t see anyone sitting on it).

 

It was interesting to see the guides and porters of the agencies. One stood out, they had a guide with 1 client and 1 guide + porter with 1 client couple on tour and they not only had oximeters but were also the friendliest with others after they had checked with clients that it was OK. Another guide, however, who was on tour with 2 women, stood out negatively in my eyes: despite the fact that he had hardly any contact with me, he approached me on the last evening and told me that I should give his agency many stars on Tripadvisor. And work with them – because I was a tour operator. I was tempted to leave a negative review, as I thought it was so stupid. But then I didn’t.

 

Often I don’t say anything on such tours that I am a tour operator – but in some situations it seems unfair not to mention it. In any case, I’m not tempted to look for someone else. Otherwise, it was quite a novelty for me to be on the road with so many other international people. Well, not just the ones from the last three days. I actually talked to a lot of very nice people – but I also had the feeling that I had hardly experienced “Nepal”.

 

That almost sounds as if the tour was already over, but there was still more to do. So one day of Muktinath in bad weather and continued frostiness. Actually, only the famous temple is called Muktinath, the place belonging to it is Ranipauwa. Since many people make the pilgrimage to the temple (and trekkers come from Thorung la), there are mainly accommodations, restaurants and shops here. Taxis and buses stop at the end of the village and you tend to move around without them. It has a wide, rather empty dust road and seems strangely deserted.

 

road

 

stalls

 

woman in front of house

 

I thought that the songline from¬†“Firebird” by Milky Chance¬†– was suiting, a song which I like to humm sometimes.

 

What was also remarkable: there was a bank where I could exchange money and the rate was better than in Kathmandu and Pokhara. However, I guess not many people did – it was very slow and everything was noted and mulled over. The best part was when he asked me about the source of my notes. Source? Well, where I got them from. I earned them at my last job, it’s my salary. Ok. Mmmhh. Well, from an ATM from Germany, that’s where I got the notes correctly! Ah so. And he thought and thought.

 

Since there is this temple here, there were also many sadhus or so-called holy men. So-called because some of them didn’t seem to be holy, but rather “gone”. One of them just lay down flat on the street. His buddy wanted to help him up, as it was also a bit too cold to lie around. But he threw himself down again halfway. Another one with a white face ran here and there as if mad.

 

So this temple. It is revered by Hindus and Buddhists alike and has buildings for both on the grounds. This site is higher up and yes well over 3,700 metres high, meaning day visitors can suffer well from altitude and also have to negotiate differences in altitude. They are mainly Indian pilgrims – and they are not always fit and have to be transported. Either on horseback or on stretchers. But they are not freshly ill, they find it a convenient form of transport.

 

Templetransport

 

Templetransport

 

Templetransport

 

The temple is a larger complex with a main Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, Buddhist meeting rooms and water flowing from 108 sacred taps. For simplicity, I’ll just link here to the Wikipedia-Article.

 

main temple

 

main temple

 

108 taps

 

108 holy taps

 

Temple and pigeons

 

buddh. meeting hall

 

Buddhastatue

 

buddh. prayer flags

 

Wall-panting

 

Mhm, the pictures aren’t that great now. But somehow I had also imagined that I would have been more impressed. I’d probably already seen too many temples and holy places.

 

I cuddled under the blankets in the accommodation and read a book by Samrat Upadhyay – probably the most important Nepali author. Info here.

 

Oh yes, the surroundings of Muktinath: great! Like Ladakh. But ugly overcast that day. I went to bed early and hoped for the next day when I would hike through there. Was a bit of a strange day after the previous highlights and excitement.