Muktinath sees hotel construction boom as number of tourists jumpsNew hotels have started sprouting in and around Muktinath, a holy site for Hindus and Buddhists in western Nepal, following a sharp rise in the number of domestic and foreign pilgrims and tourists visiting the area.
Lal Prasad Sharma
New hotels have started sprouting in and around Muktinath, a holy site for Hindus and Buddhists in western Nepal, following a sharp rise in the number of domestic and foreign pilgrims and tourists visiting the area.
Until a few years ago, only pilgrims used to come to Muktinath. Located at an elevation of 3,750 metres in the Himalaya, it is famed for its temple, eternal flame and water spouts. After the construction of the Beni-Jomsom road, backpackers and other sightseers have also started thronging the holy place.
There used to be only a few inns at Muktinath, and visitors had to put up tents to spend the night due to the inadequate accommodation. There are now 22 hotels providing food and lodging to holiday makers. Three more hotels are under construction.
Dhamba Thakuri, proprietor of the Hotel Royal Mustang, said local hotels could now serve around 4,000 visitors at a time. “Due to the easy road access, arrivals to Mustang have increased significantly, and so has the number of hotels,” he added.
Tourism entrepreneurs have also started constructing hotels equipped with modern facilities. New hotels offer room service, and the rooms have attached bathrooms, among other amenities.
In the past, tourists travelling to Mustang and Thorong-La Pass on the Annapurna Circuit Trek had to carry their own tents as there were no hotels. But all that has changed now.
Karma Chhiring Gurung, owner of the Hotel Bob Marley, said there was no need for camping now as there were comfortable hotels.
According to Gurung, the number of domestic tourists has increased significantly. “They include visitors coming for both sight-seeing and pilgrimage.”
Muktinath lies 22 km east of Jomsom. Visitors can take a flight or travel by public vehicle from Pokhara.
The Muktinath Temple is estimated to have been built two centuries ago. It is popular among both Hindus and Buddhists. Hindus believe that the temple is associated with Lord Vishnu while Buddhists consider the place to be linked with Buddhist master Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava.