Muktinath is a pilgrimage destination for both Buddhist and Hindus .It is situated at a height of 3750 mtrs. Though originally it was a Vaisnhav (worshipers of Lord Vishnu or Narayana) but the temple is managed by Buddhist nuns from Lama Domar family. It is a great example of how two religions can share the same holy spot with mutual respect and support. The local name is Chumig Gyatsya or Hundred Waters.
Furthermore the temple complex holds one of the 58 Shaktipeethas, which are considered to be of enormous importance for all hindus worshiping Goddess Durga, Kali or their other avatars. Here the peetha is named Jwalamayi. There are some eternal flames burning on inflammable gasses seeping through the ground.
Tibetan Buddhists Muktinath-Chumig Gyatsa is a place of Dakinis, goddesses known as Sky Dancers. It is of great importance for Buddhists that Chumig Gyatsa is one of the 24 Tantric places. Padmasambhava plus the Mahasiddhas blessed it with their visit. The famous Tibetan yogi Shabkar visted Muktinath in 1818 and stayed for several days to 'connect to the place', as his autobiography tells us.
The Padmasambhava Statue in Narsingh Gompa can be considered the most holy object together with the Chenrezig statue. Muktinath area is the veneration of the god Vishnu in the form of ammonites (stone fossils) called Salagrama-Shilas. There are many stories which tell of Vishnu turning into stone and all of them are closely connected to the holy Kali Gandaki River. This river, also known as the Salagrami, is a few hours walking from Muktinath.
The detailed description of the travel route is hard to find and hence this blog.
Many people who know nothing about the place write many things about it in their blog. This is the state of Muktinath in 2012 and will remain like this for the next couple of years at-least. Muktinath is situated in the Mustang District of Northern Nepal. It is near a village called Ranipauwa. Previously i.e. even a few years back the road to Muktinath was a trekking route. It was a 7 day long and tiresome trek. People from foreign countries still traverse the road on foot, to get a first class view of the striking sceneries along the way.
How to reach Pokhra from Kathmandu is very well known and there are various options too, so I am not going into that.
Season: Unlike the other destinations in Nepal which are normally traveled (eg. Kathmandu, Monokamona, Pokhara) Muktinath is a strictly summer destination, in winter the road remains closed. And in the rainy season and post monsoon the roads all over Nepal are dangerous and the road to Muktinath being a kachcha road prone to landslides, this road is by no means to be under estimated.
Route: Pokhra to Beni direct cars can be reserved, but they cost more (you have to bargain as it can be anything from 1000 inr to 3500 INR or more.) You can go to Baglung bus stand via shared taxi from Pokhara. Then from Baglung there are busses to Beni. Beni is a small town near the river kaligandaki. From Beni a separate set of smaller busses (and Mahindra maxx ) go to Jomsom directly or breaking at Tatopani or Ghasa. Jomsom is the ultimate destination via bus, from here to muktinath only a few jeeps are available.
Muktinath and Jomsom bus stand is divided by the river Kaligandaki, only two bridges connect them and none of them is motorable. The bus fares for foreigners and Indians are unbelievably high (1000-1500 Nc = 600 - 750 INR per person ), the condition of the dangerous road to some extent justifies it, though the breathtaking scenery compensates everything. The bus will halt at Tatopani for lunch, but don't eat heavy meals because its hard to eat and keep it in in the turbulence of the bus (believe me its very rough).
You can stay in Tatopani, because as the name suggests there are a few hot-springs here. After Tatopani there are Dana, Ghasa, Kalopani, Larjung,Tukche respectively. These are small villages. Then there is the village Marpha, aka the "apple capital of Nepal", well known for its world class apples and apple made items (apple brandy, dried apple). Summer is generally not the season for apples so don't expect much.
The bus should reach Jomsom at the end of the day, spend the night there. Now Jomsom has an airport, flights to and from kathmandu and pokhra are available. If the bus journey is too much for you plane is a viable option if you are not short in budget. It costs 6300 NC ( 100 INR = 160 NC ) to go to and from for one person.
Jomsom is called "the Windy Valley" and for apt reasons. The fierce winds shaped the landscape here. At noon the wind is so strong that you will feel that it will sweep off your feet while crossing a river-bridge. From Jomsom you can have clear view of Dhaulagiri snowpeak (8167 mtrs), its psectacular.
The next morning wake up as early as possible and go to the jeep stand, it will be closer if you stay near it, crossing the river. Do not stay near the airport because it is far from the jeep stand and they are costlier. Try to make friends with at-least 12 person and reserve a jeep, otherwise they will take 14 persons in a jeep and it gets real crammed inside. The jeep service starts from 6 in the morning. The jeep fare is 600 NC per Indian for one side. The jeep will go through riverbed terrain, the air corroded landscape looks spectacular in the morning sun. The small villages like Kagbeni look stark in contrast. Finally you will reach Ranipauwa and after that the jeep stand which is also called Muktinath. From here you have to walk upto the temple.
Muktinath temple may be small in size but thousands of people come here every year, thanks to the road and air-route. It is a temple of God Vishnu though it is considered as a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists also. There is a nearby temple of Goddes Jwalamayi, its one of the shakti peeths. The place is spectacular, you can see the valley surrounded by air corroded hills, though it flows the river kaligandaki. Here you will feel that all your hard work and pain has not gone in vain. Its still a good place for trekking, especially the route from Jomsom to Muktinath is full of pristine scenes, and in most places untouched by humanity. You can stay in Muktinath, kagbeni or Jomsom for the night and get back in the same way or via plane,but getting plane tickets for oneway may prove to be difficult.
HOTELS: Hotel Jomsom Paradise : Jitendra Shrechan =9847640911. Hotel Lete Mustang : Beni - near Beni bus-stand. in other places there are many hotels to chose from.
Warning: Do not go to Nepal in the monsoons, its dangerous, and post monsoon is also dangerous in Muktinath. only the previous year (2011) a bus went down with 22 passengers. Try to avoid noon and afternoon flights, because the weather becomes windy and cloudy in jomsom. Early morning flight is the best. This year (2012) an Agni air flight crashed near Jomsom Airport, killing 15 people.
NOTE: Don't forget to get the ACAP permit from Pokhra or Kathmandu before entering the Annapurna Conservation area, which starts from Beni. It costs 200NC per person (they don't accept dollar, INR or any other currency). It requires one copy of photograph and filling of a form. Once you enter the Conservation area the cost of permit goes up by two-fold. Don't get all worked up because of the warnings, these are incidents and can happen anywhere to anybody.
Overall Muktinath is a very beautiful journey, you will get lots of experience. There are lots of trekking route in the vicinity like Annapurna Sanctuary, Around Annapurna etc. Best of luck when you go there. Feel free to ask anything regarding Muktinath tour.