Trek to Kali Gandaki River for collecting Shaligram-shilas
Muktinath in Nepal is an important pilgrimage site for the devotees of Lord Vishnu as well as to Buddhists offering transcendental liberation from this world. There is a spot with burning natural gas. Muktinath is surrounded by two rivers – the Matsyangadi in the East and the Kali Gandaki in the West. The Kali Gandaki is famous for the shaligram shilas as well as the world’s deepest gorge.
After several years of worshiping the Lord in His shaligram shila form, last February was an opportunity to go visit a few of His homes on the Kali Gandaki in Nepal, from Jomsom, Kanbeni up to the famous Muktinath which is 1000 meters above the sacred winding tributary of millions of Supremes. Anyone who goes or has gone will remember this experience as one of the highlights of one’s life. It is so humbling to have darshan of this unequaled setting of the Lord’s virat rupa of changing skies, snow-capped mountains, and serene townships along the Kali Gandaki providing a constant abhisek of the Lord in one of His most personal and unique forms.
Everyone who visits may have a different time schedule which will determine how long and where you will go. Remember one trip will invite repeated visits. Our journey was a 12 day affair leaving and returning to Vrindavan. If one is going to search for shaligrams then 5 days or so in the mountain areas is plenty for one’s full satisfaction in finding Lords along with the demanding exercise involved in looking.
I flew roundtrip from Delhi to Kathmandu which costs $290 (I went alone… no one else could come). Foreigners pay full fares on these routes. If you have an Indian body the ticket will be around $150. We were blessed with some Maoist uprisings in Nepal, a problem just in certain areas between the government and rebels which brought no danger to tourists but in reality scared most away. This was nice – less people and more nature. Generally February to September can be busy times.
In Kathmandu is an area called ‘Tamal’ where the foreigners all go. It is protective here and provides all kinds of camping and travel accessories that you may need. The prices in Nepal are 1/3 what you find in the West with all the name brands. One can rent a warm jacket or sleeping bag for around 25 Nepal rupees a day, eliminating useless luggage. We spent a few days there which helped with altitude adjustment.
Around the neighboring temples like Pashupatinath (near the airport) and market places many shaligrams are available. Of course it is an offense to place a price or sell a shaligram but there is no harm if they are given to one as a gift.
Read the rest at: http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz/encyclopedia/muktinath.htm